After-the-storm calf care

So we survived the blizzard! Now, what’s next…

We need to watch for

• Frostbite

• Overeaters

• Bloat

• Scours

• Respiratory / Diphtheria


Frostbite might not be deadly at the time, but severe infection can set in and cause problems later on down the road. Extra care needs to be taken if you think a calves hooves are frostbit.

When it’s not possible to bring calves out of the weather, duct tape ears to the calf’s head. Take care to not make it too tight. Big trash bags work for the body just make sure you have leg and potty holes made. Cheaper bags rip easier, but are safer if the calf is not going to be checked again.

After the calf is warm, antibiotics, steroids, and aspirin are something to help keep your calf comfortable.

*Overeaters, bloat, and scours

Through the storm sometimes cows get separated from calves or calves bed down in a shelter through the storm. A lot of times when they find Mom again, Mom has a full bag of milk and the baby is more than willing to drink her dry. This can lead to bloat, overeaters and/or scours.

When calves overeat, they fill their stomach and then the milk “overflows” to the rest of the calf’s underdeveloped stomach. This part is not ready to process food yet, so the milk ferments, grows bacteria and sometimes even produce extreme amounts of gas. This can lead to enterotoxemia, bloat or scours.

The best thing to do is vaccinate calves at birth with Alpha CD or Alpha 7 and/or First Defense and/or Pili+C – Cow vaccine given before calving.

Even vaccinated calves can get overeaters, so always have a treatment plan.

Our must-have-on-hand list includes:

• CD Antitoxin

• Antibiotics

• Anti-Inflammatories

• Probiotics – Probios

• Electrolytes – Daique

• Multimin 90

• Lactated Ringers

If calves have sunken eyes, can’t stand, are extremely gaunt, or can’t maintain body temperatures, they NEED to go to the vet ASAP. Calves can die from dehydration, well before overeaters or scours.

If you are TREATING more calves for scours then what you feel is normal for conditions, it’s never a bad idea to take a fecal sample to the vet clinic.

Calves that survive the blizzard may still have a rough road ahead, especially if cold temperatures and high winds continue. Photo by Ruth Wiechmann.


Anytime calves are put through extreme weather changes, stressful situations, or are stuck in an area with poor ventilation, like a calf shelter for 2 days during a blizzard, respiratory infections are a possibility.

If your calf is lethargic, depressed, off feed, droopy ears, snotty nose, rapid breathing, or you can hear it breathing, treatment is necessary.

In a perfect world claves would be treated before a storm with a Nasalgen product.

Our go-tos are Nasalgen 3 PMH and Multimin 90.

Our must-have-on-hand for treatment are:

• THERMOMETER (YES! We want a temp if you call us)

• Antibiotics (2 types, for re-treatment if needed)

• Anti-Inflammatories

• Fusogard Vaccine

• Probiotics – Probios

• Multimin 90

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