Ask the Vet

Calving in the Rain

Wet weather combined with a longer hair coat, can set calves up for external parasites and skin problems.(PF photo by Karl Wolfshohl)

QUESTION

Early spring, I had several calves born during a week of torrential rains. They developed a skin rash that resembled eczema or psoriasis. One calf had it all over his body; some even had it inside their ears and between their toes (hoofs). It was very red and almost looked like they'd been scalded. My veterinarian told me to deworm them, and also gave them a shot of Nuflor. They all healed and look like normal calves now. Any idea what this may have been?

ANSWER

This is a very common problem under these conditions. Lice and mange are more common in cooler seasons, while flies and other biting insects become more prevalent as the weather heats up. Any of these pests can cause increased scratching, which often leads to skin irritation and infection.

Wet weather combined with longer hair just makes everything worse. In addition, cattle concentrated into smaller areas for feeding or protection from cold weather means increased direct contact between infected and noninfected animals. So, you may have had a "perfect storm" for this to occur.

Many dewormers do help control external parasites, which could have been what initiated the problem. Nuflor probably helped control any secondary infection, and improved weather and shorter hair helped the calves continue to improve. Also, the calves' immune systems became more active as they aged, which is always a good thing. Here's hoping that next season you won't see a repeat with the rash; but, if you do, you know what to do.