What is the cause of these conditions? Premature delivery (8 months) of an Angus calf (50 pounds) with absence of sucking reflex and 60% alopecia. Herd was fed two-year-old hay with 28% hi-pro mineral supplement.

It is not surprising that a premature delivery calf might lack a sucking reflex. If you can keep the calf alive, it may begin nursing on its own with time. In normal fetal development, the unborn calf should be covered with fine hair by 8 months of gestation. The hair continues to grow to a “normal” length by the end of the normal gestation period. You may be seeing normal but early hair development in this premature calf. However, it is also possible that the hair loss is part of the disease process that caused the early birth. We cannot give you a definite diagnosis, but fungal infections or bovine viral diarrhea virus are examples of diseases that might cause hair loss or skin lesions and premature birth or abortion.