Journeying in Hell

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10 years 5 months ago #36426 by Short Plank
Our Jersey house-cow Chloe calved last Tuesday morning. When we found her she clearly couldn't stand up so we lifted her with a hip-clamp and she walked with her healthy bull-calf a few yards onto the flat. We gave her a bag of Glucalophos and a shot of antibiotic, checked out the afterbirth which seemed all there, and left her to rest. But nearly a week later she still can't rise on her own, and seems to have given up trying. We can put her on her feet with a sling and tractor, and she'll walk around, graze, drink and let the calf suckle quite normally. Sitting down she looks bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, alert and with a wet nose, but just can't/won't get up on her own meaning that ever few hours I have to pick her up with a neighbour's tractor - when she'll walk around for another two-three hours before lying down again - and leave her supported in the sling from it overnight. She's had three more bags of Glaucalphos over the week, plus a bag of the one containing boron - all scrounged from neighbours - and two anti-inflammatory injections in the rump as I suspect a damaged obturator nerve. She's old and fat but still has good teeth and is a great milker. Our vets are a 2.5 hour drive away and will only come out for two or three jobs at a time. How long do I give her? How long should I leave her down before trying to get her up - and getting her up with sling and tractor if she can't on her own? I'm beginning to despair.

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10 years 5 months ago #475128 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic Journeying in Hell
is that glucalphos the magnesium based one? I ''think'' its the yellow packet colour?

Reason why I ask is we went through a similar sounding thing with one of our older jersey girls a couple of years ago. We were getting the brown packet stuff IV'd into her ok, but we should have been using the magnesium one instead and we should have continued treatment for more than we did.

The stuff we were giving her was ''keeping her going'' but not enough to get her back on her feet and living a normal life.

We had our vet out to her, but ultimately it went too far (milk fever??) and we had no choice but to shoot her.

Can you take photos of her and email to vet, I found this a very helpful thing to do when I am unsure and it gives the vet a better idea rather than a verbal description.

good luck!

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10 years 5 months ago #475129 by cowvet
Replied by cowvet on topic Journeying in Hell
Unlikely to be metabolic this far down the track as she is OK once you lift her. Keep doing exactly what you are doing and lift her as often as you can. The longer she spends down on the ground the less likely she is to get up so you need to keep her mobile and minimise tissue damage from long periods of recumbancy.
Is her calf with her? Sometimes the psychological effect and the motivation of having a calf to look after makes a big difference.
Keep going - the fact that she can move around for hours once helped up is a good sign. Anti-inflams will help.
Don't leave her unsupervised in a soft sling overnight. The damage she can do hanging in one of these is worse than what she will get lying down overnight. best to lift her first thing in the morning and last thing at night to minimise her down time.


I love animals...they're delicious

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10 years 5 months ago #475130 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic Journeying in Hell
I'm beginning to despair. I'm mentally exhausted from lack of sleep worrying whether I'm doing the right thing, properly. I know it's foolish, but I'm spent many happy hours with the old girl in the byre hand-milking, and now I'm being eaten away with doubts as to whether I'm doing what needs to be done for her, or indeed whether anything can be done. It was the Glaucophos - Bowmac in a brown bag. We used up all we had, which was two, andf scrounged two from neighbours plus one I recall had boron in it. Thanks swaggie - I'll talk to the vet about sending 'photos. But to look at her sitting or standing she seems perfectly fine.

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10 years 5 months ago #475134 by spoook
Replied by spoook on topic Journeying in Hell
We had a similar instance here 6 years ago. One of my favourite girls went down over night and would not/ could not stand.
Many, many hours of lifting her in hip clamps and a home made sling, feeding her buckets of grass and willow, one time she was lifted up over a fence to put her in the best grass we had. She was not at all perturbed by the unusual mode of transport, as she swung past the willow tree she was reaching out to grab as much as she could. :D It was a really amusing sight.

She was worked on for weeks, under vet supervision and treatment, but in the end sadly she had to be put down. I understand she had a hernia, part of her gut was bulging out.
We had tried enough so she was "released".

Luckily I was in and out of hospital at the time so the grief was masked with my pre-occupation of myself.

Sorry it is not good news but I do know the longer she is down, the worse the prognosis [B)]

There are no bad questions only those that are not asked.
"You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed"

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10 years 5 months ago #475143 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic Journeying in Hell
Thanks spoook. She isn't actually down at the moment. We lifted her with sling and tractor about an hour ago and she's been ambling around eating grass and fussing over her calf ever since. Looking at her now you wouldn't think there was anything wrong with her. But we needed the tractor to get her up - even some applied sadism resulted in only a token effort to rise on her part. She had been standing all night, in the sling in her stall hung from the roof so perhaps she was just tired. She might, too, be a bit sore and bruised from the hip-clamp we were using on her and just need time to recover from that - our vet is sending out some pain-killer by Rural Mail tomorrow. My next big worry? Do we sling her overnight in the stall and risk her slipping on the floor again tomorrow morning, sling her from the tractor forks in the paddock or leave her be to lie down all night if she wants, risking nerve and muscle damage to the limbs she lies on, I understand?

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10 years 5 months ago #475146 by tonic
Replied by tonic on topic Journeying in Hell
If she were mine, I would do as Cowvet suggested and lift her in the evening and agin in the morning but leave her down over night. The risk of somehting going wrong in the sling while I was not there would keep me up at night! I think the fact that she is up during the day will help her minimise the damage form lying down at night, it is not the same as if she was down for a full 24 or 48 hours.

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10 years 5 months ago #475149 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic Journeying in Hell
Thanks Tonic. You've confirmed my own gut feeling. She was standing in the sling all last night and didn't come to grief but it seemed I lay abed staring into the darkness imagining all the ways she could get into trouble - cows aren't very bright and Chloe isn't a very bright cow - so I think leaving her free will be better for me even if it isn't for her! Sent a short movie of her to my vet who suggested that her udder was big and hanging low, (and that after I took a gallon off her first thing) which might be causing her grief, so the next time she lay down - after a couple of hours on her feet - I lifted her in the sling and took the best part of another two gallons off her - all she'd let me have. And the front of her udder still looks a bit swollen. I've sent a pic of that back to the vet for her opinion, but I've always believed that the more you milked 'em the more they produced, and that just after calving that can be bad as it just strips them of more calcium and &tc. Perhaps that's wrong?

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10 years 5 months ago #475157 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic Journeying in Hell
With Daisy who is 10 years we milked her as soon as we could get her and the calf to the shed as her udder gets so big and low its impossible for a new calf to find a teat.

Apart from the fact that it must be extremely uncomfortable.

this year because she is older, we only took 10 litres the first day, 10 litres the second and then built it up each day so we didn't cause her body to work overtime to replace all her milk.

With the 4 week old calf still on her 24/7, we generally get 20 litres on the older pasture, but when we had her grazing on the new fascinate grass, we were milking 25+ litres and calf.

Great that you are getting the photos to the vet. It certainly helps for them to see what you are seeing and saves that travel time and cost for both parties. [^]

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10 years 5 months ago #475160 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic Journeying in Hell
Thanks swaggie.

A couple of pics: One of her udder AFTER I'd taken 7+ litres out of it, the other of Chloe lying down, as she is at the moment.

Since she calved last Tuesday I've taken milk from her to ease her, but not large amounts. Also Junior has been suckling but not taking much, I suppose. So perhaps she has a build-up of milk to get rid of, tho' she's not letting it down for me.

The vet after seeing these and similar photo's has suggested a bra for her. She said it was half-serious but in fact we have used bras on her in previous lactations, with holes cut in it to 'free' the front two teats while we milked out the rear quarters twice a day - plenty of milk for us and the calf, so everyone happy. Unfortunately we sourced the bras from Denmark and they are no longer made there, and by the end of her lactation (two years for us) the thing is usually in strips held together by bailer-twine. We haven't been able to find a source of them in NZ. Can anyone help?

As you can see from the 'photo she looks like she could get to her feet any time she chose. All she has to do is do it and I shall be a happy, very relieved man.

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10 years 5 months ago #475163 by Barclay
Replied by Barclay on topic Journeying in Hell
I'd be interested in her blood phosphorous levels. There's been a bit hypo-phosphataemia around, apparently due to the drought earlier (don't ask me to explain that). Bright animals that can't stand, but walk when lifted is a common description. It's usually fairly rare. Certainly she doesn't sound like a calcium or magnesium deficient animal.

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10 years 5 months ago #475164 by Cigar
Replied by Cigar on topic Journeying in Hell
About 12 years ago we had a cow down for 14 days post-calving who eventually came right (back in the herd and milked for the whole season, so there is definitely still hope.
Even longer ago a neighbour was grazing stud dry cows and one fell in the river. By the time we got her out she was pretty well knackered. The owner said to shoot her, but the neighbour paid cull cow value for her and spent many, many days lifting her. She improved eventually (can't remember how long, but it was weeks rather than days), and the neighbour sold her subsequent calf to the original owner for much more than he paid for the cow. She still limped a bit, so probably wouldn't have handled being in a commercial herd, but was fine living the quiet life.
Good luck!

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10 years 5 months ago #475166 by Iniuk
Replied by Iniuk on topic Journeying in Hell
My late sister-in-law persisted with her favourite cow for (I think) several weeks because otherwise she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as you described, just unable to get up after calving. The locals were very scornful but she made a full recovery. I think the condition of the cow would be a big factor for me.

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10 years 5 months ago #475167 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic Journeying in Hell
I wouldn't give up. She looks bright. Our Maisy didn't look so bright/interested when we had our issues (as previously mentioned).

I think its just going to be one of those things, and you are dealing with a senior citz to boot. (who make fantastic house cows and are just so irreplaceable).

Keep going with the vets advice and keep sending those photos. Its gotta help!

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10 years 5 months ago #475169 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic Journeying in Hell
Thank you all for your messages of hope and encouragement.

After the vet suggested that her bag might be causing her grief I milked her out thoroughly and she does look more comfortable now.

She's wearing a sling from Te Pari Products, and I have to say I'm somewhat unimpressed with it. Admittedly it seems intended for 'one-time' use - ie lifting a downed cow back onto its feet and supporting it for recovery - but how you'd get it on a downed cow baffles me. We certainly couldn't get it on Chloe when she was down and while fat for a Jersey she's not a big cow. The 'instructions' say that the cow might have to be 'rolled' into it - which might be possible for a few beefy blokes on a billiard table but for a woman on her own or with the cow on a slope or in a dip it would be impossible.

In Chloe's case we had to get her to her feet with a hip-clamp and then put it on her, and even that took two as it's all underneath her so one person is needed each side. It also claims to be for 'any cow' but it's a hopeless fit for a jersey and there is no way to adjust the main support while the straps at the front are far too long while the 'brisket support is hopelessly short while the straps at the back - clearly intended for a deep-bodied friesian - are too long for a jersey and place them in entirely the wrong position on her flanks when the strain is taken up.

Perhaps worst of all are the rather cheap clips indended for setting the length of the straps. Simple snap-closing types they snap-open at the slightest tug in the wrong direction.

Finally, the basic plastic sheeting of the sling itself is terrible hot for the animal with no ventilation or 'breathing' possibilities.

We've managed to cobble together a system of hopefully keeping it on her which has worked so far, and has made picking her up several times today a breeze - just trundle the tractor up to her, hook her on and up she comes relatively easily and painlessly. But with just a little more thought and a lot more quality Te Pari could have come up with something a lot easier to use and friendly to both user and animal. But hey, us country folks don't go in for sophistication, right?

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