In mid December we discovered Precious was lame on one hind leg. Although we continued to monitor her, one evening we found her recumbent in the paddock, her back facing down a small slope in a very awkward position. She was unable to get up.
At her age this is of course the equivalent of a "fall” and we were concerned. We knew that Precious could not spend more than about four hours on her side as her weight may crush her internal organs. Although we managed to roll her over and she was then sitting, she was no longer under shade.
We supplied her some water and waited for the vet, concerned that the herd may be bullying her. She may need to go on a marquee tomorrow, but this was not a promising solution with cattle around.
The vet diagnosed a stifle injury. The stifle in a cow is the equivalent in structure and function to the human knee. In a cow, however, this joint has three ligaments (the human knee has only one).
We consulted vets at Gatton and Dayboro who advised that stifle injuries are common in dairy cattle, but the farmers don’t generally consider repair to the joint to be cost-effective. There are a number of surgical options which can be delivered in the paddock, but experience at both Gatton and Dayboro vets is extremely limited as dairies rarely want to afford the surgery.
We of course wanted to provide as much help to Precious as we could.
In mid January 2022 we got the results and it was discovered that diagnosis for Precious is torn ligaments around the stifle. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing whether some , or all three ligaments, are torn.
If some ligaments are torn, the stifle will repair itself. Recovery would be expected to take three months.
If however all of the ligaments are torn, the stifle will not repair itself. In this case, her muscles will develop to compensate. This will take around five months.
Of course, Precious being a senior, recovery may be longer.
For now, we have been advised that she should rest as much as possible, as the ligaments will only heal while the leg is not being used.
We will continue to closely monitor her for efficacy of pain management, although the reduced swelling is a good indicator that she may be passed the painful stage.
Other than that her feed and water intake needs to be monitored and adjusted accordingly for size, however it might be good if she lost a little weight as it will assist in recovery to give the stifle less to carry.