including cleft palate, prognathia and brachygnathia are rare and
most lesions affecting the mouth are caused by trauma and
infection. Cattle with lesions of the mouth usually present with
profuse salivation and poor abdominal fill due to impaired feeding.
Lesions affecting the cheek result in obvious firm swellings.
Infected lesions of the cheek and/or tongue may cause
Prognathia and brachygnathia
defects can be managed by careful husbandry ensuring an adequate
concentrate component of the ration to maintain growth rate to
slaughter. Calves with severe cleft palate are typically recognised
by the presence of milk at the nostrils when sucking and are
euthanased for welfare reasons.
Cattle have 32 permanent
teeth with a dental formula of 2(incisors 0/4, premolars 3/3, and
molars 3/3). The temporary incisor teeth erupt sequentially at
approximately weekly intervals from birth. The three temporary
premolar teeth erupt within two to six weeks. The first permanent
molar erupts at eight months. The second permanent molar erupts at
nine to 12 months, and the third permanent molar and permanent
premolars erupt from 24 months. The first (central) pair of
permanent incisors erupt at 18 months and are fully in wear by 24
months. The second (medials), third (laterals) and fourth (corners)
incisor teeth erupt sequentially at six months' intervals; 30
month-old cattle having four broad (adult) teeth.
Bovine papular stomatitis
Bovine papular stomatitis is
caused by a parapoxvirus virus which also causes pseudocowpox.
Spread occurs by direct contact between calves and/or contaminated
feed buckets with entry through abrasions in the mucosa.
Calves one to 12 month-old
are most commonly affected with most infections causing few
clinical signs such transient anorexia, salivation, and mild
pyrexia. The lesions comprise expanding papular rings on the
muzzle, nostrils and in the mouth.
Fig 1: One month
old calf with bovine popular stomatitis
No treatment is required as
spontaneous recovery occurs within 4-7 days. Disease transmission
can be reduced by avoiding group housing and use of shared feeding
buckets/teats, and strict hygiene and disinfection of feeding
Calf diphtheria results from
abrasions in the mouth with secondary infection by the bacterium
Fusobacterium necrophorum. An outbreak of disease in dairy
calves is typically traced to unhygienic conditions with dirty
feeding equipment. Lesions may also follow trauma to the buccal
cavity caused by oesophageal feeders used to administer oral
electrolyte solutions, and dosing gun injuries.
Fig 2: There is
obvious swelling of the calf's cheek.
Fig 3: The
calf's lower jaw is wet caused by drooling of
The calf's lower jaw is wet
caused by drooling of saliva with obvious swelling of the cheek.
There is halitosis and the rectal temperature may be
Fig 4: Lesions
may be caused by eating fibrous feed such as
Fig 5: Calf
diphtheria lesion caused by stomach tube.
Infection may extend to
involve the larynx causing frequent harsh coughing and obvious
roaring or honking sounds on inspiration. Death may occur in severe
cases due to asphyxiation when necrotic debris occludes the
Fig 6: Laryngeal diptheresis: Click picture to play
Fig 7: Infection extending onto the larynx
obvious roaring or honking sounds on
Calf diphtheria is often
treated with daily procaine penicillin by intramuscular injection
for at least seven to 10 consecutive days as directed by your
veterinary surgeon. Veterinary attention is essential when
infection causes respiratory distress; relapses are
Calf diphtheria is prevented
by strict hygiene.
lignieresii, is a commensal of the bovine upper respiratory
and alimentary tracts which gains entry through breaks in the
buccal mucosa causing wooden tongue. Outbreaks of wooden tongue may
follow the feeding of hay containing fibrous stalks or thistles.
The tongue protrudes and there is profuse salivation and affected
animals are unable to eat/swallow resulting in a gaunt appearance.
Examination reveals a very firm, painful and swollen
Fig 8: Profuse salivation in an early case of
Cattle with wooden tongue
should be isolated. Prompt treatment with 5-7 consecutive days'
penicillin and streptomycin combination or potentiated sulphonamide
should achieve a good response.
Actinomycosis (Lumpy Jaw)
Infection with the bacterium
Actinomyces bovis occasionally causes osteomyelitis in the
maxilla (cheek) and mandible (jaw) of adult cattle, most often beef
cattle. The organism may gain entry to the bone associated with
permanent molar teeth eruption or traumatic buccal
There is marked enlargement
of the mandible and often one or more discharging sinuses. Pain and
physical deformity cause problems with masticating fibrous food
with consequent rapid loss of milk yield and body
The treatment is similar to
actinobacillosis but prognosis is poor even with prolonged
antibiotic therapy. Realistically, the aim is for temporary
remission with slaughter of the animal when there are no antibiotic
residues in the carcase.
Fractures of the jaw
Jaw fractures occur most
commonly after a tractor wheel hits the animal when it has its head
through a feed barrier.
The animal does not feed
because of pain and difficulty with masticating food leading to a
gaunt appearance. The tongue may passively protrude from the mouth
and continuous drooling of salivation is common. There is swelling
around the fracture site.
Veterinary attention is
essential to establish a definitive diagnosis. Mal-alignment of the
dental arcade can usually be palpated at the fracture site. The
displacement at the fracture site is often slight and best
appreciated by running a finger along the lingual aspect of the
premolar and molar teeth. The fracture site can be demonstrated
radiographically but such examination is not always undertaken in
Slight displacement of the
fracture is treated conservatively by isolating the animal and
feeding soft/soaked feedstuffs at shoulder height. Prolonged
antibiotic therapy may be considered necessary to prevent infection
of the healing fracture. Displaced, open and pathological fractures
necessitate emergency slaughter for welfare reasons.
Jaw fractures can be
prevented by careful operation of farm vehicles especially when
feeding cattle from elevated central passageways.