December 4, 2013 by dairycarrie
So I talked about delivering a calf from a cow with a twisted uterus on Monday. Today I am going to talk about the second part of the story.
Everybody say hello to heifer calf 697, the calf that 408 had after her ordeal.
Because of the complications with her birth, this calf was born with an injured ankle joint. Right after her birth Dr. Jen checked her legs out and determined that she had a severe sprain on the joint.
So what do you do when a calf has an injured leg?
You do the same thing as a human, you splint the joint to provide stabilization to the leg while it heals. Dr. Jen had the genius idea to use pipe insulation as a splint on a friend of mine’s calf and it worked great for her, so we tried it.
We put her leg into the pipe insulation and wrapped it with vet wrap. We had to change the splint out every 2-3 days to keep it clean and make sure her leg was still straight.
After a few days I added some support to the sides of the splint because I noticed that the pipe insulation was giving too much flex. This heifer was a pretty big girl and I think if her leg had been just a little smaller it would have worked without the extra support.
After 2 weeks of using the splint our heifer’s leg still wasn’t gaining strength. We weren’t positive that the leg was going to heal. We talked with Dr. Jen about our options. We could try to cast the leg. It would be expensive, possibly painful for the calf and there were no guarantees that after the cast came off our heifer’s leg would be fixed. Our other option was to euthanize the heifer. We talked about out options and decided to try to cast her leg.
After the first week we noticed that because her leg was swollen when we put the cast on and the swelling had gone down over the week the cast seemed loose. Dr. Jen came out and took the cast off and we discovered that the cast had rubbed her leg and we now also had a sore to deal with. So now we would have to take the cast off every week, clean the wound and recast the calf.
Again we had to make a decision. Was it better to put the calf down so she wouldn’t be in pain? Did it make economical sense to continue to pour money into a calf that may never get better? If this heifer’s leg did heal, when she was older and bigger would her leg support her weight or would we end up having to cull her because she just couldn’t get around very well? A three legged cow simply doesn’t work. We are a business and as much as we love our animals we also have to consider what makes financial sense for our business. After talking it over some more we decided that since we were already this far, we would keep trying.
After 6 weeks of being in a cast and lots of extra babying 697’s leg has healed pretty well. We still don’t know if she will remain sound on that leg as she gets older but I guess we will have to cross the bridge if we come to it. She is now the most expensive heifer we have on our farm.
Her mother’s name is Candy so when we had to come up with a C name for her we decided to name her Crooked. We hope that she will be known as Crooked the cow in about a year and a half.