Spring calv­ing may lead to downer cows

Shepparton News - Country News - - COBRAM HORSE TRIALS -

The spring calv­ing sea­son is upon us and you may find a downer cow in your herd.

The prompt, cor­rect di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of the con­di­tion could help save you cows, time and money.

There are a num­ber of po­ten­tial causes, in­clud­ing:

Phys­i­cal injuries Calv­ing paral­y­sis is usu­ally, but not al­ways, associated with heifers and a dif­fi­cult calv­ing.

Dur­ing calv­ing a cow’s nerve, known as the ob­tu­ra­tor nerve, may be crushed be­tween her pelvis and the calf.

A cow with calv­ing paral­y­sis will ap­pear bright and alert but have no con­trol over one or both of her hind legs.

The only treat­ment is care­ful nurs­ing and time; an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory drugs are use­ful if used early.

Calv­ing paral­y­sis needs to be distin­guished from injuries such as dis­lo­cated hips and back injuries.

Such injuries can oc­cur in any aged an­i­mal of­ten af­ter an ac­ci­dent such as slip­ping.

A cow with these injuries will also be bright and alert and usu­ally eat and drink nor­mally.

A vet­eri­nar­ian should be called to as­sess these an­i­mals. Meta­bolic dis­eases Meta­bolic dis­eases can be distin­guished from phys­i­cal injuries by the pres­ence of other clin­i­cal signs.

Milk fever is seen in older, high pro­duc­ing, fat­ter cows. A cow with milk fever will show fine mus­cle tre­mors, stag­ger­ing and weak­ness.

Grass tetany is seen dur­ing times of stress such as bad weather on short grass dom­i­nated pas­tures. An af­fected cow will be­come ag­gres­sive, ex­cited, go down and pad­dle and con­vulse vi­o­lently.

Both milk fever and grass tetany should be treated ur­gently with 4 in 1; ad­di­tional cal­cium or mag­ne­sium may be needed into the vein and should be ad­min­is­tered by a vet­eri­nar­ian.

Preg­nancy tox­aemia or ace­tone­mia is an en­ergy de­fi­ciency prob­lem seen in cows los­ing weight or calv­ing in poor con­di­tion. Be­havioural signs will be seen be­fore the cow goes down.

Cases may in­di­cate a di­etary de­fi­ciency be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by the whole herd.

Tox­aemia Masti­tis, metri­tis or any other gen­er­alised in­fec­tion causes tox­aemia or blood poi­son­ing.

A cow with tox­aemia will ap­pear de­pressed, with a dry nose and sunken eyes.

It is im­por­tant to check the ud­ders of downer cows for masti­tis, and the uterus for tears or se­vere in­fec­tions. Care of the downer cow

Prompt treat­ment with ap­pro­pri­ate vet­eri­nary drugs and good nurs­ing are the keys to suc­cess­fully treat­ing a downer cow.

The first step is to try and de­ter­mine why the cow is down and to treat ap­pro­pri­ately.

Cows should only be nursed if they have a re­al­is­tic chance of re­cov­ery. Oth­er­wise they should be hu­manely de­stroyed.

When nurs­ing a downer cow move her to a dry shel­tered shed and pro­vide her with com­fort­able, dry, soft bed­ding on a non­slip sur­face.

Sit her on her chest, po­si­tion her cor­rectly, and roll her from side to side at least two times a day. Pro­vide her with feed and wa­ter.

Use hip clamps only for a few min­utes to get her on her feet. ■ For fur­ther ad­vice con­tact your lo­cal vet­eri­nar­ian or Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria vet­eri­nary or an­i­mal health of­fi­cer, or in NSW your Lo­cal Land Ser­vices.

— Dr Jeff Cave dis­trict vet­eri­nary of­fi­cer

Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria

Get it right . . . The prompt, cor­rect di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of a downer cow could help save you cows, time and money.

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