News & Advice

Down Cow Care

Jul 31, 2019 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Minerals

Remember these facts? 

Muscle damage in a down cow starts as early as 6 hours after going down. 

Move her from side to side if she is down for a while and provide her with some ‘padding’ underneath. The best would be to move her to a sheltered shed on a deep bed of hay/straw. Soil is actually quite solid! If it’s not, it’s mud which means she’ll get cold quickly. 

Hypothermia (low core temperature) can have a significant impact. 

A down cow eats less, moves less and starts to struggle to maintain her core temperature, especially when it’s wet and cold outside. When core temperature drops significantly, internal organs start shutting down. PREVENT THIS WITH A COW COVER! Make sure a cow cover fits properly and will not restrain a cow when she is trying to rise. Ideally it should also be waterproof. Covers with both these features can be purchased at your clinic. 

Hip clamp rules:

  • the hip clamps should be padded and applied firmly to prevent slipping and bruising. 
  • The rear end of the animal should only be lifted to a point where the feet are touching the ground so that weight bearing can take place. Use a chest strap to help with this which will also provide extra comfort for the cow. 
  • If, after taking the weight of the animal on the hip clamps, the cow cannot be persuaded to take weight on the forelegs, the use of the clamps should be discontinued. 
  • If an animal has failed to respond initially, she should be allowed to rest for a period before hip clamps are tried again. 

Nursing care:

  • A soft, clean and dry bed at least 30cm deep in a sheltered place (straw/hay) 
  • Confinement → a cow will easily crawl away from her perfect bed if she isn’t confined (NB confinement doesn’t mean isolation!). Crawling causes (more) nerve damage. 
  • Enough space to stand but not walk 
  • Plenty of fresh water and food 
  • Frequently roll her onto her other side 
  • Anti-inflammatories (e.g. Flunixin) for max 3 days 
  • Cow cover to maintain body temperature 

A cow that is not up after 48 hours needs veterinary attention! 

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