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An epidemiologic study of mortality in veal calves subsequent to an episode of zinc toxicosis on a california usa veal calf operation using zinc sulfate supplemented milk replacer



An epidemiologic study of mortality in veal calves subsequent to an episode of zinc toxicosis on a california usa veal calf operation using zinc sulfate supplemented milk replacer



Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 190(10): 1296-1301



Ninety-five 3- to 6-month old male Holstein veal calves were evaluated after an episode of zinc toxicosis, to describe clinical signs and to identify management and/or host-related factors that may have contributed to death. Clinical signs appeared 23 days after feeding of milk replacer commenced. Of 85 calves examined, 64 had pneumonia (75.5%), 62 had ocular signs (72.9%), 46 had diarrhea (54.1%), 34 were anorectic (40.0%), 15 were bloated (17.6%), 8 had cardiac arrhythmias (9.4%), 3 had convulsions (3.5%), and 3 were polydipsic/polyphagic (3.5%). Clinical signs began to appear when calves each were being fed approximately 1.5 to 2.0 g of zinc/day and exposed to a cumulative zinc intake of 42 to 70 g, from a milk replacer containing 706 .mu.g of elemental zinc/g of milk replacer. Of 95 calves studied, 1 died before zinc was supplemented, 16 died during the episode, 12 were euthanatized, 1 was lost to follow-up evaluation, 1 was culled, and 64 were slaughtered. Deaths attributable to zinc toxicosis were observed between 25 and 53 days after the milk replacer was supplemented with zinc. Calves died while being exposed cumulatively to 30 to 66 g of zinc. The factors of previous pneumonia severity, age, cumulative daily exposure (g) to zinc, and calf location within a bay were examined for possible associations with mortality, using stepwise logistic regression. Though younger calves tended to have a higher mortality than older calves, neither age category nor severity of pneumonia, before zinc supplementation, accounted for a significant mortality. Calves located in the front of a bay and fed first were 6.88 (95% CI = 1.41, 33.72) times more likely to die than were calves in the rear of a bay. When the variable location was included in the saturated logistic model, calves cumulatively exposed to 45 to 65 g of zinc were 60.87 (95% CI = 8.07, 458.58) times more likely to die than calves exposed to less than 45 g and were 362.12 (99% CI = 48.04, 2,729.00) times more likely to diet than calves exposed to the than 65 g of zinc. High mortality of the intermediate (45 to 65 g) group was attributed to that group accumulating zinc at the highest rate, and having exceeded a threshold of toxicosis near 45 g.

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