One evening, NP noticed that one of the steers had scours. Nothing too concerning given the weather and recent pen change. However, definitely something to keep an eye on. The next evening at chore time, we were shocked to see one of the steers laying flat out with a distended belly. We couldn't convince him to get up and based on that and several other factors, I made the decision to put him down. However, when we went back to do so, he was up and eating. Although still terrible looking, I was encouraged by the fact that he was eating. I decided to give him a chance and called the vet first thing the next morning. The vet quickly determined that the steer had developed water belly, aka a blockage caused by bladder stones. There is a surgery that can sometimes help (not cure but temporarily help) this problem, our steer wasn't a candidate due to age and advanced state of the problem so in the end we still had to put him down.
While this outcome was hard to deal with, it was a relief to know that this calf did not have something contagious and after talking to the vet and doing some further research, it seems that this was a fluke thing and largely out of our control. However, we are now armed with knowledge of early signs and will be adjusting some of our management practices just in case.
Having a good vet that you can trust is so important and we are grateful for the knowledgeable vets at AMVC in Audubon. I appreciate that they not only care for our animals but also take the time to answer my (sometimes extensive) questions.
I'm not about to tell anyone to 'enjoy every moment' because some things just stink. The ups and downs of farm life can be hard BUT we learn from the bad days and they make the good days that much sweeter. I think the good days are still worth it.
Brun Ko Farm