Friday, February 17, 2012

Posting A Cow

Now, I know quite a few farmers read this blog, but I also know that a lot of non-farmers read this too.  Every so often, I show the yuck side of farming so that people still remember that it's not all a bed of roses.  I also know that a lot of you non farmers appreciate seeing things that have to be done here, the good, bad and the ugly. 

So without further adieu,

Posting a cow.

This was such a bummer!  We had a cow that was in one of the fat pens (that is being sold for slaughter next week) that yesterday looked a little on the big side.  Ron had said that he would put her on the "watch list".

This morning when he was checking for calves (I had two kids at the docs office because we thought they had strep) he looked at her.  I come home and Ron tells me that he checked her and at 7, she was huge and he looked at her again and she had gotten even bigger.  He called the vet who just by chance had time to come out in a half an hour. 

Before I show you the pics, here are the cutest ranch hands that I could find.  Or the only ones, but that doesn't sound as good.

Since my camera doesn't take good pictures, this is her.  She's not supposed to be this huge.  She was having a hard time breathing when she got through the lots and when she got up in the alleyway.

We got her in the chute and she got stuck.  We desperately worked to give her some relief by widening the chute, which we can but she wedged herself in there and that made the pins lodge at an angle .

Sadly, within three minutes she had dropped and the bloat had suffocated her.  We called the vet and told him to forget it, but we quickly called him back and told him to come and post it.  Like an autopsy on a person, that's what a post is.  That way we can see what exactly killed her or helped kill her.

Big D went and got the bobcat and chains to pull her out.  It took a while but we got her out and hauled her over to where the rendering truck (the dead animal bus) comes to make a pick up. 

D took this one pretty hard, until the vet came and we saw how really sick she was. 

This is our vet.  This picture was taken after he "deflated her" like a cheap rubber ball.  Now he's taken his first cut.  Always on the right side, first cut always behind the shoulder. 

There' s still time to stop reading if  your not into seeing the blood and guts...

You know what?  Stop being a baby and look at it!  =)   It's interesting.  Besides, if my five year old can stand by the vets side and watch, yo can too.

There he cut the front shoulder and flung it over her head. 

He's suspecting something other than just bloat being the problem.  D thought it was twisted gut, but then Mark the vet said something that I remember from a class from when I went to SDSU for Livestock Management:  seldom does a beef cow get twisted gut.  That's a dairy cow thing.  I was also impressed with myself when I could still name the stomachs in a cow and where they were!  Woohoo!  Here he's rolling back the ribcage and he will cut the bones with what looks like a huge tin snips. 

Here he is cutting the rib bones, and there's my fearless Rachel who's right there with her dad watching.  Maggie who's almost three was sitting in the Ranger said, "Yuck!  I'm gonna puke!" 

That big purplish thing in the center, can anyone guess what that is?  The liver.  I think you can expand this  picture so you can see up close.  It's pretty cool.

Of course Mark was correct.  We had treated her with Draxxin (an expense drug that is a wonder on treating Pneumonia)  on December 27. Ron had it written right on her ear tag, but when we got to her lungs, the bottom of one side was stuck to her rib cage.  Which is very bad, lungs should be free of the ribs.  He cut it away and we found the problem.

An abscess.  What do you do with an abscess?  Well, you lance it and clean it.  BUT, when it's inside, we can't see it.  In case you are wondering what an abscess is, it's almost sack like that fills up with puss.  In case you're curious, the smell can make queasy stomached people puke.  This was no different.  It took your breathe away it smelled so bad. 

So the diagnosis?

 Her lungs were bad, because of the pneumonia and huge abcess.   Since she was sick and she wasn't eating, she wasn't using important body parts like her gall bladder which was the size of a medium size balloon, showing us that she'd been off feed for a while.  Cows have to burp constantly and she wasn't which made her bloat so bad.  Her bloat was cutting off her air and when she got in the chute she essentially suffocated herself when she got stuck. 

Mark said there's no way she would've came out of this pneumonia anyway so it was just a matter of time, even without the bloat since she had that horrible lung abscess.  

I wanted to take a picture of the abcess, but my camera kept dying in the cold and I just went down there and she wasn't fresh anymore. 

But as I've said before, this is buying sale barn cattle.  Sometimes, but not all the time, somebody is trying to get rid of something, and the buyer buys it and we all take our chances. 


Did the person know that they were selling something sick?  More than likely.  Are we mad?  No.

If they can walk off the trailer, it's fair game to buy.  If we wanted something that we didn't want to take chances with, we'd buy heifers and steers right off of a farm. 

I hope you found this insightful.  Now, I'm going to go slice off some ribs off her and throw it on the grill for supper...just kidding! 

Fairchild Farmgirl

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