Rib fractures among calves
As part of a study about respiratory infections 215 female calves were examines on 3 dairies in southwestern Ontario Province, Canada. They found; 123 cases where lung consolidation had occurred. In addition they also found 14 rib fractures (7%).
While rib fractures among this population were not common, still 7 percent should be considered significant from the point of view of those 14 calves. Other work at the University of Illinois suggests that these fractures occur most commonly with difficult deliveries.
Thus, best management practice suggests that in cases of difficult (and, prolonged) deliveries we routinely check the rib cage for abnormalities.
With my own calves I tagged a suspected rib-fracture calf's hutch for extra careful handling, close observation at feeding times for slow drinking and/or incomplete consumption of milk, and any symptoms of respiratory illness.
Reference: Dunn, T.R. and Others,"The effect of lung consolidation , as determined by ultrasonography, on first lactation milk production in Holstein dairy calves" Journal of Dairy Science Vol 100, Supplement 2, Abstract 192, page 194.
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