After a very busy couple of weeks at Auburn and hosting the 66th Annual Reciprocal Meat Conference, the boss lady cleared me to go home and relax for a week. That lasted about two minutes because the family put me to work as soon as I arrived. The most interesting and nerve-racking job of the week came from my uncle Brian.
I was out with my mom and stepdad and we had just decided we were going to dinner at Fat Paddy’s when Mama (ma’am – aw) called. She said she needed to talk to the vet … mind you I am not a vet but know enough to avoid calling the vet for a lot of things. Anyway, mama continues to describe the situation, the conversation went something like this:
Me: What happened?
Mama: Don’t know. Cow came in and her bag is all torn up.
Me: Cut? Ripped? A coyote get hold of her? Fence? Give me some details.
Mama: Can’t tell. She’s bleeding pretty bad and there is meat hanging down.
Me: (To mom and Dennis) I think we need to change our dinner plans. Mama, if it is bad call the vet. Do you have sutures?
Mama: No. Can we make some?
Me: Sure, we need fishing line. Um, I don’t sew. I’ll be there in a few minutes.
Needless to say, we grabbed drive-thru food and went home. Mom made fun of me because I was out of the car and pulling on my barn boots before the car came to a complete stop. I get to the barn and it looks grim. Meanwhile, Brian has called the vet who said there wasn’t much they could do. The vet suggested hosing her down and keeping her in the barn. (No kidding!? I was a little irritated at this point.) I get in the stall with the cow and start crawling around on my hands and knees looking at her udder area (DO NOT do this at home! Cattle kick and it hurts when they kick you.). After a few minutes of pulling together the usual medical supplies: vaseline, betadine, saline, distilled water, scalpel, blades, scissors, alcohol, lighter, towels, peroxide, etc., we had a game plan.
We moved the cow into the chute, tied her legs (so if she kicked, she couldn’t extend her leg all the way … this is a safety precaution so my head stays on my shoulders). I get my light set up and start cleaning her up with saline, then peroxide, repeatedly for about 10 minutes. At this point her udder was cleaner and I could see what I was working with better. We decided to cut two large pieces of flesh away because they were hanging down and pulling her teats down. Once these were cut away, her teat pulled back into place (a VERY good thing). Then I repeated the saline and peroxide regimen. We mixed the betadine with vaseline and made an ointment. I sprayed her with betadine then applied the homemade ointment. Also gave her penicillin to help fight infection.
Next day, cow was doing better and would stand and let us tend to her without going into the chutes. She is still recovering but doing better each day. We don’t know if she will have a fully functional udder but right now we’ll take the daily improvement. I feel better getting a calf out of her and bottle feeding it than I do having to put her down.
Fast forward a couple days, the bull comes in with a huge cut to his left hind leg, right above the hock. At this point you can imagine there were a few explicative phrases thrown about. Brian walked the entire pasture and finally found what we think is the culprit: an abandoned gas line which is broken and full of bolts. (Gas company is removing the line next week.) The short version is that we had to do the same thing for the bull we did for the cow. He lost a decent sized piece of hide but other than that was just irritated he had to stay in the barn away from all his ladies.
Just wanted to share my experience at home with you and offer a few pieces of advice for anyone who has animals of any kind.
- Check pastures, pens, crates, whatever at least once per week. This will help prevent any injuries to you or to your animals.
- Keep some basic medical supplies on hand. This is good practice for you, your family, and your animals. Things to keep on hand include alcohol, peroxide, antibiotic ointment, gauze, tape, etc. A good place to start is with the first aid kits available at Target, WalMart, etc. Take these kits and build up from there.
- Call the doctor or vet. Chances are you can handle the situation but it is best to get a second opinion.
- Be safe whenever working with animals, particularly if they are injured. I don’t suggest crawling around underneath them trying to get a better look at the injury.
- Keep the animal’s safety in mind, but your safety comes first.