The last cow into the dairy on Friday morning had Wayne stumped. It had been an uneventful milking, she’d gobbled up her ration of grain for breakfast but, when Wayne turned to spray the teats, there she was calmly sitting underneath her neighbour. No matter what we tried, there she stayed, refusing to budge. This little cow is only five years old, six months in calf and in great health. We didn’t want to lose her.
Sarah the vet was duly called but could find nothing wrong. We figured she’d just slipped and was gathering her nerves before trying to get back up. She didn’t. She wouldn’t, even to follow a tempting trail of wheat.
When the time for afternoon milking came around, Wayne had to slither her along the platform and then lift her over a fence with the hip clamps. We sat her in the shade with grass, silage and water. She ate well, looked bright and feisty but her legs just wouldn’t work. It was an enormous relief to see her up and about at daybreak on Sunday morning, pushing against the gate to get back with her herd mates.
She still looked a bit tottery yesterday afternoon, so we let her have the afternoon off but felt really confident she was going to be alright.
So when I had to move the cows unexpectedly at lunchtime and saw her being pushed backwards down a slope towards the gully by a big bully cow, my heart leapt into my mouth. With the bully heaving low under her belly, the poor little cow toppled sideways – seemingly in slow motion – into this ignominious position.
Now, this crazy-looking pose called “dorsal recumbency” is deadly for a cow. I had minutes to get her upright. For emergencies like this, I carry a heavy drag chain in the Bobcat and had her sitting upright again in less than five minutes. It’s a delicate job that has to be done with a lot of grunt and that’s always a risky combination.
Thank goodness, it worked. After some gentle coaxing from me and enthusiastic yapping from Patch, she struggled to her feet and joined the herd. Fingers crossed, little cow.