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What is a dummy calf?


March 19, 2021

What is a dummy calf? This condition refers to a newborn calf that has no voluntary muscle movement. Legs are stiff and unbendable. The calf is either born dead or presents with labored breathing and dies soon after parturition. This is due to the heart muscle being affected. Calves are often pre-mature in appearance with significantly lower birth weights than expected.

Premature calf showing classical pose of selenium deficieny inutero.

To read more about this selenium deficiency caused condition, that can occur in other livestock newborns, click here:

For more information on how weather can lead to vitamin E deficiency and forage quality issues check out this article I authored in Progressive Forage in August of 2018.


For an indepth look at how climate change and extremes in weather are impacting forage quality see my abstract on Recent Extreme Weather Events: Animal Deaths Linked to Toxic Plant and Pest Outbreaks presented at the 2021 Northeastern Plant Pest Conference. Please email me at for a recording of the presentation.