Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Lifting cows: overview

Contributor(s): Graham Duncanson , Mark Burnell

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Introduction

  • There are a multitude of causes of recumbency, including:
  • Hypophosphatemia.
  • Traumatic injuries:
    • Dystocia Dystocia.
    • Slips and trips – particularly on concrete.
  • Toxic mastitis.
  • Toxic metritis.
  • Acute salmonellosis Salmonellosis.
  • Acute acidosis.
  • Abdominal catastrophy (eg uterine rupture Uterine rupture, right side abomasum displacement (RDA) Right displace abomasum: surgical correction, cecal torsion, small intestinal torsion, peritonitis, colic of unknown cause).
  • Acute babesiosis Protozoa: babesiosis.
  • A ‘downer cow’, is the term used to refer to a cow which has been in sternal recumbency for 24 hours or more, with no systemic signs of illness and no known ambulatory disorder”.
    • These cows are often suffering from compartment syndrome The downer cow.
  • Both dairy and beef cows are very heavy animals, often over 800 kg. If they become recumbent it is vital that farmers and their veterinarians give them every assistance to regain their feet.
  • It is imperative that cows remain recumbent on a hard surface, such as concrete, for as short a time as possible.
    •  It is likely that in most cases muscle damage (compartment syndrome) will start to occur quickly.
    • The reviewer’s rule of thumb is to move before 30 mins.
    • For both clinical resolution and for animal welfare reasons, cows should be lifted ASAP.
    • As ever, the vet’s primary responsibility is to the welfare of their patient. Work with your farm clients to find immediate solutions to these issues, so that the cow can be treated promptly, even on the busiest units.

Welfare

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Moving the recumbent cow

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Methods of lifting cows

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Summary

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Cox V S et al (1982) The role of pressure damage in pathogenesis of the downer cow syndrome. Am j vet res 43 (1), 26-31 PubMed.


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