Homesteading Forum banner

Help me to help this cow! (Diagnostic advice sought)

2232 Views 33 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  willow_girl
OK, here's all I know about her (yeah, it's sketchy at best). (Mind you, this is a cow at the dairy where I work, not one of my precious mamas!)

She's been in the calving pen for about 2 weeks now. Farmer brought her over from the dry cow barn. I'm not sure when her due date was, but it must have passed because he said he induced her 2 days ago. No calf! :confused:

Now he thinks she might have aborted or had a stillborn calf out in the pasture when she was down at the other barn.

This morning when I went in, she was down, with her back legs splayed out like a frog's (bent at the hock joints, but behind her, so she couldn't get up).

He hadn't gotten around to picking her up with the tractor when I left (we were doing ET today) so I don't know whether she is able to stand on her own.

(It seems to me that it might be more likely for a cow to slip and go down this way right around the time of delivery, when all the pelvic ligaments are loosened up.)

Any help/advice would be appreciated. Gosh, I hate to lose one of my girls! :(
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Lube your hand and arm lift her tail and do a rectal exam. Shouldn't take more than a minute to see if she has a calf. This is not as bad as it seems to check her. If she is with calf it may be dead and causing some of the prob. Is she springing and making ''bag''? Could she have milk fever if she has had the calf? She needs to be up on her brisket and chocked with hay bales or her lungs will fill up and she will be in big trouble! Keep us posted.
Mr. Wanda
Thanks Mike, I will know more tomorrow and post more then ...
Good advise here, except to ad that if she is diallated do a vaginal exam and look for a malpresentation.
Well, my boss doesn't let me do that kind of stuff (I am just the milker, although I am trying to learn more of the health care stuff, especially since I have cows of my own now) but I will ask him tomorrow if he's done this ... sometimes a gentle nudge works wonders, if ya know what I mean. ;)
Talked to my boss yesterday and he thinks she has a dead calf in her. I asked whether we should palpate her to find out and he said it was too late. So I guess she is just gonna lay there and die. :(

Damn, I hate it when stuff like this happens. :(
How can he leave her there so just die? That is so awful? I'm sorry I don't mean to sound critical of your boss, but it is so heartbreaking to think that nothing is being done for this poor girl, maybe I'm too soft or something, but there must be something that someone could do, what about the vet?

Carol K
willow_girl said:
Talked to my boss yesterday and he thinks she has a dead calf in her. I asked whether we should palpate her to find out and he said it was too late. So I guess she is just gonna lay there and die. :(

Damn, I hate it when stuff like this happens. :(
At the price of replacement cows that is an unbelievable attitude!!!!!!!!!! Maybe you should work a deal on his soon to be down cows. These cows are worth $1500 min healthy and less than nothing down, how does he justify this? He should be able to give you a nice bonus on the ones saved, if not trying to save them he should put them down at the first chance. A bullet would be a blessing in this case.
Mr. Wanda
Unregistered said:
How can he leave her there so just die? That is so awful? I'm sorry I don't mean to sound critical of your boss, but it is so heartbreaking to think that nothing is being done for this poor girl, maybe I'm too soft or something, but there must be something that someone could do, what about the vet?

Carol K
WHY?? Because in the owners eyes- its a 'factory'. Whether it's cows-'milk/baby/meat factory'; pigs-'meat/baby factory', etc. They don't make 'parts'--they make a consumable product. They don't see the animal--they see $dollar$ signs. Literally! We were always told by the big boss/owner that we were in care of his MONEY while we were working (hog farm). :( Oh sure, they care...only to a point. It ALL boils down to the almighty dollar as to how/why something does/doesn't get treated. It's a "It's served it's purpose" attitude. Problem is--that attitude carries over to people--I messed my shoulder up (because of work), once the doc put me on part-time all I did was literally train my replacement & then was told I was 'permanetly laid off'. Thank God they had insurance & paid for fixing it. (Long story made short!) :) But the nice part is: For 3 years I learned ALOT about (and got paid to do it!): birthing/treating/feeding/dieases/cleaning/breeding/weaning/meds/sutures/casterating/birth assiting...OK you get the 'whole 9-yards picture'! The experience/knowledge is invaluable as far as I'm concerned. Makes one better prepared & make 'educated' decisions on a variety of things....
See less See more
I don't really want to get into the above issues because this is a public board.

Suffice to say that my boss is a very nice guy who took me on even though I knew absolutely nothing about cows, and has taught me a lot in the months I've been there, and has been extremely patient with my screw-ups, of which I'm sure there have been many.

So I owe him some loyalty.

I will say that I did buy a first-lactation heifer that he sent to the sale barn because she was a maniac in the parlor. She wouldn't quit trying to kick the snot out of us ... otherwise she was a nice little cow ... and her dam is something like a 36,000 lb lifetime producer, huge cow, real good looking -- good feet, great udder attachment. :)

After a little lovin', my girl got with the program, and now I milk her by hand, in the pasture, with only a bucket of grain to distract her ... I don't even have to tie her up or use a stanchion. :) I also bought a sale barn calf and put him on her, so she is raising a nice little steer for my hubby's dinner plate.

I did have to pay a premium price for her at the sale barn, because some a-----e slaughter buyer got wind of the fact I wanted this cow really really bad, and ran the bid up on me. :(

So my boss got twice what she was worth as a slaughter cow, and I paid half what she was worth as a dairy cow. You might say it was a win-win situation for both of us ...
See less See more
Willowgirl, give the myrter act a rest. You were at an auction. The guy bidding against you was bidding based on the value of the cow, as were you. He was not trying to p1$$ in your beer, he was trying to obtain a valuable dairy animal. Please everyone stop trying to paint the entire agriculture industry as an evil empire trying to thwart your lifestyle.
Tinknal, I don't know what I did to deserve your invective (for one, I WORK in the ag industry, plus have my own farm, so it'd be kind of silly for me to paint it as an evil empire, now wouldn't it?) but you were not at the auction and obviously had no idea what went on.

For one, she wasn't being sold as a dairy cow, she was being sold with the old, sick and lame cull cows at the slaughter auction. For all anyone knew, there was something majorly wrong with her ...

While most of the cull cows garnered 2-3 bids, we had quite a fierce bidding war going on, she sold for half again what any of the other cull cows were going for. I don't think it was a coincidence that the gentleman (I use that term loosely) that I was bidding against was sitting with the other auctioneer, who was taking a break. The dude obviously caught on to the fact I wasn't going to drop out, and had a little fun at my expense. The auctioneer who was doing the selling had a good time dramatizing the whole thing (hey, that's his job) and after the bid closed, he asked, "Young lady, just how much were you willing to pay for that cow?" and I just smiled and said, "Whatever it took."

They were all laughing at me, but I figure I got the last laugh because I paid $800 for a cow that is probably worth $1500. ;)

(And BTW, I have been to hundreds of auctions, so yeah I know how these things work, and how to bid so as to generally not pay more for something than I have to.)
See less See more
Well it's been 5 days now, and she's still alive. :confused:

If she DID have a dead calf inside her, wouldn't she be dead by now? :confused: She doesn't appear to be feverish and doesn't have a nasty infected smell ...

She's eating and drinking (I haul food and water to her every day), she just can't seem to get up. I'm not sure if she injured herself when she went down and her back legs splayed out, or what ...

She has been trying to get up ... I can tell by the way the ground is dug out around her.

Pneumonia hasn't set it yet, so there is still some hope, I guess!

I'd really like to try to pick her up, but I don't know how to do this ... maybe I will mention it to my boss tomorrow.

I hate hate hate to lose a cow ... :(
See less See more
I find this very hard to believe. I've had downed cows before and I was pretty sure they were going to die, but I still brought them feed and water and kept them comfortable until they did. If the situation had gone on longer or the cow was suffering, I would have killed them. I do not know of a single cattle farmer who would simply leave a downed cow to die with no care at all.

Did your boss say he was going to leave her there to die? Are you taking feed and water to her at his request or on your own? Are you perhaps exaggerating the situation just a bit?

If he has indeed said he was just going to leave her to die, then he needs to be reported to the humane authorities. I am not a "treat livestock like pets" kind of person, but leaving a cow out to die from thirst (if nothing else) is criminal and ought to be reported. It's not that hard to shoot a cow!

Jena, I have answered your message privately.

This is the only farm I've ever worked on (besides my own :) ) so I don't have a whole lot of perspective on how things are done in the industry. I guess I'm surprised (certainly glad) to hear that things might be different elsewhere.

However, I don't really want to get into a discussion about farming practices or ethics here, what I'm looking for is practical or medical information on what I might be able to do to save this girl, and thank you to everyone who has responded with suggestions.
People are concened that this cow is not getting proper treatment, if any at all. So you need to understand that this sort of neglect gets peoples hackles up, to put it mildly. If he won't do what is right by the cow, report him to the proper authoroties, Willow Girl, if you ignore his neglect you are condoning it, you have to do right by the cow.

Carol K
Carol, there are no "authorities" that are going to do a darned thing in this situation. Trust me on this one, OK?

I AM trying to do right by the cow, that's why I'm here asking questions and trying to get information, OK? Thanks.
Willow Girl,

You just keep right on caring and trying to do right by that cow. Don't be distracted by thoughts that you're not doing enough.

Even the smallest act of kindness is a good thing, and it shows the goodness in you.

Paradise Farm
Getting back to the cow, that legs splayed back position is a symptom of milkfever/ calcium deficency. Does she startle easily, or have trouble swallowing? Just a couple more symptoms of milk fever. To lift the cow you need a sling and either lifting frame or a loader of some sort. She'd need an IV of calcium and an AD shot (and a proper diagnosis!) Anyone taken her temperature? No vets in your area? Maybe if you show some interest in treating this cow your boss will get a vet to work with you on her. If he's not going to do anything constructive the cow should be destroyed.
Thank you Gene for your kindness! I was about to ask Ken to delete this thread, but your reply made me stop, and I decided I'd wait to see if more helpful advice came in, and now it has. Thanks Ross. No, I didn't realize the legs-splayed thing could be a sign of milk fever! She doesn't seem to startle easily or have trouble swallowing ... also her ears are normal body temperature, not hot or cold. My boss usually lifts cows by putting a sort of clamping thing on their hips, then picking them up with the tractor. Unfortunately he was not there today, and I have tomorrow off, rats! I did talk to the feeder, who will be milking tomorrow morning, and asked her to make sure the downed cow was taken care of while I was gone, and she agreed to look after her for me.

It may have been my imagination, but she seemed a little stronger today ... she was really trying to get up. It doesn't help that her back end is in kind of a mucky spot, so she can't get much traction. :(

She is lying with her head up, though ... alert ... and she starts eating and drinking as soon as I haul her some stuff. I know if she's down for too long, the pneumonia will get her, though. Maybe I can talk my boss into trying to pick her up on Saturday. I was wondering, though, if she injured herself when her legs splayed, might it do more harm than good to try to lift her?

I don't think she actually fractured her pelvis, because on the day she went down, he was trying to get her up, and she was sort of pulling herself along ... but she was on concrete, slanted (right by the feed bunk) and so it was slippery ... I think if she had been on dirt, she might have been able to get up. :( Could it be just a pulled muscle, or something? Like if we gave it some time, it would mend itself?

I hope so ... she is a nice little cow. This was only her second calf, she gave 26K lbs in her first lactation. You'd think that would be worthy of some veterinary care, but, well, I don't call the shots. :(
See less See more
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.