Symptoms and diagnosis of rickets in calves, treatment and prevention

Symptoms and diagnosis of rickets in calves, treatment and prevention

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Young cattle require care and attention from the moment they are born. Improper care or feeding causes metabolic disorders and often leads to rickets in calves. Problems can arise at different stages of offspring development. Studying the causes of the disease, identifying the disease at an early stage and timely prevention will save farmers from serious consequences.

Causes of rickets in calves

Calf disease is caused by a lack of vitamin D, which is involved in the exchange of phosphorus and calcium. A deficiency of beneficial trace elements interferes with the proper formation of bone tissue. As a result, signs of developmental delay are observed in the offspring of cattle. The main causes of rickets:

  1. Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
  2. An imbalance in the acid-base environment.
  3. Unbalanced diet leading to vitamin deficiency.
  4. Lack of sunlight.

Often, rickets occurs in calves while still in the womb. This is caused by a poor feeding ration, which causes metabolic disruptions in a pregnant cow. Most often, the disease manifests itself in calves during the first year of life. Cases of mass diseases are noted in winter, if the livestock is rarely allowed out for a walk.

Expert opinion

Zarechny Maxim Valerievich

Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.

And even after successful treatment, young animals need constant monitoring. Side effects do not appear immediately.

Symptoms and Signs

Rickets is characterized by slow development. Over time, symptoms appear:

Stages of the diseaseSigns
Early stageThe appearance of a perverse appetite in calves
Disruption of the gastrointestinal tract - bloating and diarrhea
Loss of shine and elasticity of the coat
Lameness and weakness of the limbs
A month after the illnessLumps appear on the chest ribs
The joints increase in size
The shape of the skull changes
Curvature of the trunk
The height of the diseaseTachycardia
Labored breathing
Decreased hemoglobin levels
General weakness

In sick calves, teeth begin to stagger and fall out. As a result, the animals begin to lose the gained weight. When moving, a characteristic crunch of bones is heard. Fractures often occur.


A veterinarian is invited to clarify the diagnosis. It is difficult to independently determine the nature of the disease. Symptoms similar to rickets have ailments:

  1. Rheumatism.
  2. Joint pathologies.
  3. White muscle disease.
  4. Copper deficiency ailments.

The doctor examines the diet of feeding the calves, examines the animal, palpates painful areas of the body. To finally confirm the presence of rickets, a biochemical blood test is done. Specialists also prescribe x-rays or ultrasounds.

Treatment methods

Sick young animals are immediately separated from healthy livestock and placed in a dry and warm room. The conditions for keeping calves are being revised:

  1. Straw bedding is placed on the floor of the pen.
  2. As they become dirty, the layers are removed and replaced with fresh ones.
  3. Check the ventilation system.
  4. In winter, UV lamps are turned on indoors to make up for the lack of sunlight.
  5. Provide regular physical activity. In the summer, the calves are released to the pasture, in the winter they are walked in the barn.

Animal feeding is also subject to reassessment. Youngsters are given food rich in protein, vitamins and other useful substances.

The diet includes:

  1. Fresh herbs and vegetables. Carrots are especially useful.
  2. Alfalfa, dandelions or clover are added to hay.
  3. Yeast Supplements.

During illness, the calves are fed with whole milk for about 2 weeks.

Intramuscular injections of "Tetravit" and the drug "Ergocalciferol" help well in the treatment of rickets. Inside daily give up to 10 drops of "Trivitamin". The duration of the course is determined by the veterinarian. Sick calves are prescribed fish oil fortified with vitamins. The dose is calculated based on the weight of the animal - 0.5 grams of the drug per kilogram of weight.

Can the problem be avoided?

For the prevention of rickets, a set of activities is organized on the farm. To prevent the onset of the disease, you must:

  1. Conduct regular veterinary examinations of animals.
  2. Pregnant cows should be injected with vitamin-containing preparations a month before giving birth.
  3. Donate the blood of newborn calves for analysis.
  4. Avoid keeping animals in cold, damp rooms.
  5. Observe the rules of hygiene.
  6. Ensure regular walking of the livestock.
  7. Install UV lamps in the pen.

The diet of animals should be balanced not only during illness. They pay constant attention to feeding, monitor the freshness of products, use useful additives and recommended dosages.

Following the advice on keeping and feeding calves will save the animals from many diseases. Rickets and other pathologies negatively affect the productivity of the herd. And this causes serious damage to the entire farm.

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