Field investigation of perinatal mortality in Friesian cattle associated with myocardial degeneration and necrosis

Murray, R and Williams, A and Sheldon, I M (2008) Field investigation of perinatal mortality in Friesian cattle associated with myocardial degeneration and necrosis. REPRODUCTION IN DOMESTIC ANIMALS, 43 (3). pp. 339-345.

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Abstract

Perinatal mortality and stillbirths were investigated in an extensively managed herd of Friesian cows and heifers calving over a 2-year period: 504 cows were calved and 215 heifers. Cows were bred to Friesian and Jersey bulls using natural service. The perinatal fetal mortality rate was 7.5% for cows and 30% for heifers. An experienced stockman managed these calvings and veterinary assistance was required only on nine occasions. All stillborn fetuses were examined post-mortem by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Carmarthen and no infectious agent was identified on any occasion. Thyroid hyperplasia was found in two fetuses. In blood samples taken from 10 late pregnant heifers, mean glutathione peroxidase values were 7.9 +/- 1.7 IU/ml Packed Cell Volume (PCV). Tissues from eight fetuses were submitted to the University of Liverpool for histopathological examination; all presented lesions consistent with myocardial degeneration and necrosis of the left ventricle. Following treatment of 205 late pregnant heifers with sodium selenite and vitamin E, the overall perinatal mortality rate in these cattle fell to below 11%.