Calf Constipation Symptoms and What to Do, Treatment and Prevention Methods

Calf Constipation Symptoms and What to Do, Treatment and Prevention Methods

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Indigestion is a common problem in ruminant pets. This is especially true for young animals. This is because the feeding system of young calves is not yet well developed to cope with adult food. Consider what to do if a calf has constipation, its causes, characteristic symptoms, how to diagnose and treat it with drugs and folk methods.

Causes of constipation in cattle

Constipation in a newborn occurs from the fact that he does not drink colostrum or drinks it later than necessary. Colostrum contains substances necessary to activate and normalize digestion, strengthen immunity. Among them there are acids that stop the development of pathogenic microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract of calves.

The calf then switches to milk. If it is raised without a cow, constipation can occur due to non-compliance with the feeding scheme, when overfeeding milk, if it is cold or too warm, sour. All such cases are the result of the inattention of the owner of the animal.

Expert opinion

Zarechny Maxim Valerievich

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

The cause of long-term constipation in a small animal can be the stress that he experiences when weaned from his mother.

But much more often the cause is an infection that enters the baby's body from the outside, if the cleanliness of the bedding, inventory and equipment is not maintained in the barn. Constipation can be caused by helminths that live and reproduce in the intestines of calves.

Symptoms and signs in cows and calves

A retention of feces in a calf for more than a day is an alarming symptom. Prolonged non-removal of waste products leads to intoxication of the body, and may even result in the death of the animal. The first signs of constipation in cows can be seen a day after the disorder. Before that, the animal does not yet experience severe discomfort and reacts little to what is happening in its body.

Since the intestine is clogged, and there is no exit of feces, the calf feels discomfort, his belly swells a little, becomes dense, defecation is rare or absent. The animal is depressed, lies a lot, when it tries to defecate, it hums, its temperature rises. But the main sign of constipation is hard stool or its absence due to stopping the movement of intestinal contents. Deficiency of fiber and especially water is also a prerequisite for its appearance.

In this case, the feces are formed dry, cannot move through the intestines due to poor motility.

Constipation can develop from clogging of the book with food lumps and their drying out between the leaves of the organ. Blockage from feed occurs due to prolonged feeding of cattle with roughage, grazing on poor pastures, eating dirty or too finely chopped root crops. Blockage of the digestive tract occurs due to atony of the proventriculus, poisoning, infectious diseases.

Diagnosing the problem

Despite the obvious signs of a problem, the veterinarian must determine the diagnosis and the cause. He will need information about what the calf ate before the problem appeared, how it behaved, whether it was active.

At home, a preliminary diagnosis can be made according to characteristic signs, palpate the stomach, if it is tight, slightly swollen, and the animal is unpleasant to touch, it tries to escape, kicks, hums, then it may be constipation.

The blockage can also be detected with a rectal examination - a plug from solid feces will be visible in the rectum.

How to treat constipation

Treatment depends on the severity of the constipation and its duration. You can fight with folk remedies if the constipation is mild, or give the calf special laxatives if they are ineffective.


From medicinal antibacterial drugs, the calf can be given "Syntomycin", "Norsulfazol", "Levomycetin", "Phthalazol". Laxatives are available in powder or tablet form. It is not difficult to make a medicine for cattle out of them at home, you need to dilute a certain amount of the product with water.

Dose drugs strictly according to the instructions and give them also in the amount indicated in it, since improper treatment can easily lead to the opposite effect. Give laxatives 0.5 hours before meals 3-4 times a day. If the bloating is severe, doctors advise rubbing the animal's abdomen with turpentine diluted with water to enhance its work.

Traditional methods

As soon as constipation is detected, you need to stop giving your baby milk. It is processed in the stomach to form gas, which only makes the situation worse. In order for the calf to be emptied, it is given castor or vegetable oil (100-150 ml each), a decoction of flaxseeds.

He is given an enema with warm soapy water. After that, the calf is massaged the abdomen to start the digestive processes and intestinal motility. Movements should be soft, smooth, strong and sharp pressure on the stomach should not be. Calf massage is carried out in a standing position, if it lies, there will be no effect. Instead of a massage, you can simply take the calf out into the yard and make it move for at least 0.5 hours in a row. Movement stimulates the stomach and intestines. If these methods do not work, you need to contact your veterinarian, who will select the solution necessary for each case.

Preventive measures

It is still necessary to start the prevention of constipation in cattle when the cow is pregnant. She needs to be well fed, because a calf develops in her, which pulls a huge amount of nutrients. Remove litter as soon as it becomes dirty. Do not use old, moldy straw or hay as bedding, as animals will eat them off the floor as well.

To prevent constipation in a newborn, you need to leave him with his mother so that he drinks colostrum. Make sure that the calves do not drink more milk than necessary. A hungry baby can drink more milk at a time than usual, but instead of remaining in the stomach, it will spill into the rumen, where it will turn sour, since there are no bacteria that process it yet. Therefore, you need to calculate how much food the calf needs, how often to feed it with milk and drink it according to the scheme. The same goes for feeding on formula milk.

It is also important to monitor the psychological state of the baby. If it is necessary to separate him from his mother, then this should be done not abruptly, but gradually, so that the calf can get used to the new conditions. Otherwise, in nervous individuals, stress is reflected in the work of the whole organism, and in particular on the digestive system.

Feed with new foods gradually so that the stomach can get used to unfamiliar food, cut root crops and vegetables into pieces so that the calf can swallow them. In autumn, when frosts begin, make sure that cows and calves do not eat frozen grass and wet from dew or rain.

For the prevention of intestinal blockage with feces, the calf is given 1 glass of yogurt on acidophilic bacteria immediately after birth.

To prevent constipation from developing in calves from an infectious disease, you need to remove the bedding in the barn in time, lay a new one. Wash and disinfect equipment and dishes. Disinfect the premises 2 times a year. Disinfection of materials is the best way to avoid infectious diseases of livestock.

To feed, especially small calves, feed with a balanced composition, so that all nutrients enter their body in the amount that is necessary. The diet should include grass and hay, root crops, vegetables, feed. Be sure to give a lot of water, as much as the calf can drink. You need to let him go for a walk with the cow every day. The movement has a beneficial effect on intestinal motility, makes the contents move towards the exit.

Constipation in a calf means that a digestive disorder has occurred, which is a symptom of certain diseases, poisoning, overfeeding, and improper feeding. In most cases, constipation does not go away on its own; the calf needs help to get rid of the problem. The breeder has at his disposal effective folk methods and preparations of traditional veterinary medicine. As a rule, with the correct application, the treatment gives a good result, the digestion of calves is normalized, they feel much better.

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