Cow can’t get up after birthing

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Five days ago, one of the oldest cows we have calved. Later in the day she cleansed, that is passed all the afterbirth with no problems. The calf suckled and all looked well. Then over night the cow went down. Nothing dramatic.

She had not crushed her calf as ewes are liable to do when they decide to lay on one of their lambs; just lay down and has not been back up since.

John called the vet immediately as he suspected the cow had milk fever and his diagnosis was confirmed. The vet took blood samples, ringing back later in the day to say she was deficient in calcium and phosphate. This is despite the fact that licks are available to the cows for both of these minerals. Off I trotted to the vets, picked up the required mineral jabs, John administered them, all should have been well. As the calf could not get at his mum’s udder, John stripped the cow for her milk and fed the calf. We waited then for the cow to get up and get on with the job. But she didn’t.

So the vet came back and took another blood test. She was still short of phosphate. John went to pick up another mineral jab. Luckily he checked before administering as this time the vet’s dispensary had put out a different medication that did not indicate it was for treating a mineral deficiency.

At first the duty vet, as by now it was evening and the vets was shut, tried to argue that was maybe what was needed as the cow’s muscles may have cramped after being down for so long. “But the blood test said she was short of phosphate and that was what she required,” I explained. By the time we met up at the surgery he had looked at the computer read out and agreed. And apologised.

Meanwhile, John had cunningly constructed a hoist out of split fertiliser sacks, spread them out and we rolled the cow onto them.

By hooking the ends of the sacks through the tractor fork lift it pulled the cow onto her hoofs. She paddled away in the air but them gently sank back into the straw when released.

So what to do. She has moved a little by herself. Makes occasional attempts to get up. Eats and drinks with gusto. John has created a pen around her and the calf in the fold yard and the rest of the herd mill around unconcerned.

The calf is now totally fed on milk powder replacement as there is no way he can drink from his mum as her udder is inaccessible to him. She is bright, feeding well, quite content to lie there whilst her meals are brought to her. “What’s not to like?” seems to be her attitude.

Even if we can get her up she will struggle to raise a calf who has grown used to being fed from a bucket. More next week.

Mrs Downs Diary