Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Down cow (Farmer Factsheet)

Contributor(s): Phil Poulton , Kristina Mueller

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  • A down cow is defined as a cow that is recumbent and unable to stand.
  • A downer cow is a cow that has been recumbent for more than 24 hours, and is bright and alert.
  • The best practice for managing down cows is to not have any!.
    • Preventative measures to reduce the risk of down cows should be a high priority, ie good transition cow management to reduce milk fever cases, good nutrition, good housing, walkways, appropriate bulls etc etc.
    • Discussion of these factors is beyond the scope of this factsheet.
  • The cause or causes of recumbency in a down cow can be difficult to determine because of the interplay between the primary cause of the recumbency and the secondary effects from the recumbency.
  • There are many reasons why a cow will become recumbent, which can be broadly categorised into 4 groups:
    • Metabolic: such as milk fever, grass tetany, pregnancy toxaemia etc.
    • Musculoskeletal: such as calving paralysis, back injury, brachial/radial nerve paralysis, hip dislocation etc.
    • Per-acute illness: such as severe cases of mastitis, diarrhoea, grain poisoning.
    • Miscellaneous: such as cast, prolapse uterus, calving, misadventure etc.

The importance of acting quickly

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Initial response

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Euthanasia

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Treatment

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Moving down cows

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Nursing

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Lifting

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Daily cyclee of nursing

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Conclusions

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