Sometimes things go smoothly. Sometimes we hit some speed bumps like I talked about in last week's blog. We hit another one of those with one of our steers. We checked on him a few days before this and he was a good-looking, healthy steer and the next time we went up there he wasn't.
He had become quite thin and developed a large lump under his jaw. This sometimes happens from getting seeds stuck in the jaw (especially cheatgrass), but that makes a lump that develops slowly and eventually the infection can grow to this size. This one was sudden and came with quick weight loss.
I gathered him up into the corral and hauled him down the mountain so I could watch him more closely. Once down, I got him in the chute and took a closer at the steer. The lump was soft, which tells me that it is filled with fluid. The steer seemed to be having just a little bit of trouble breathing. It wasn't particularly labored, but it seemed like the swelling was pressing on something and making it a slightly difficult. I decided to "lance" the lump to relieve the pressure.
There was a lot of fluid that had to be drained and there was some infection in there. After letting it drain, I decided to give hime some antibiotics to fight the infection and prevent it from spreading. He seemed to do well over the next several days. He was fed hay in the corral. I couldn't tell that he was having any problems breathing and he had a good appetite. He is now out in a small pasture close to the house so that I can still watch him.
This steer seems to have been bitten by a rattlesnake. From time to time we see this. It wasn't enough to kill him, but it had a big impact in a short amount of time. He lost a lot of weight and he will always have a little bit of a lump. Since he was given antibiotics, he is out of the Big Trails Beef program. He won't be sold in any "All Natural" program and, after the withdrawal period for the antibiotic, he will be sold through the sale barn in Worland. It's simply an unlucky story, but it looks like it will have the best possible end. He is recovering well and hopefully will be back to being fat and happy soon.
by Brandon Greet