In a three-month period, a Belgian Blue beef herd was confronted with three unexplained mortalities in neonatal calves, characterised by the development of a marked cervical swelling. A fourth case was referred for closer examination. On clinical examination, the animal showed a diffuse cervical swelling with oedema and crepitation, depression, anorexia and muffled lung sounds. A barium contrast-enhanced radiograph showed diffusion of contrast liquid from the oesophagus into the surrounding tissues, consistent with oesophageal perforation. Postmortem examination showed a fibrino-necrotising (peri)oesophagitis, tracheitis and myositis, pyothorax, pneumomediastinum and pericardial emphysema. A perforating tear was present in the ventral oesophagus, 15 cm caudal from the larynx. The cause was an inappropriate tubing technique of the farmer and possibly the use of an oesophageal feeder with metal end-piece.
- Colostral immunity
- Oesophageal feeder
- Contrast radiography
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