According to the Oxford dictionary the word precious as an adjective means "of great value, not to be wasted or treated carelessly" and as a noun it is used as a term for a beloved.
Whilst the Angus beef industry from which Precious was rescued considered her value only in the steak they could cut from her body, or the offspring she could provide, she was certainly greatly loved and treasured here at sanctuary.
Precious was rescued from the Angus beef industry in 2013 after she couldn't fit on the slaughterhouse truck, by someone who saw her as the living, breathing and emotional creature that she was. Once she had settled into the sanctuary, we also discovered that she was pregnant. She soon give birth to a baby, which we named Sam.
Over the next years Precious formed a strong maternal bond with her son, who, with his mother's milk, the freedom, nutritious food and fresh air of the sanctuary, soon grew to over 500 kgs and towered over his mum.
However, when he was three Sam was discovered to be suffering from a congenital disease that could not be treated. Sam knew he was not well, and left the herd several times to wander into the forest alone. However, each time, Precious would follow him and gently bring him back to the herd.
Eventually, we had to make the difficult decision to help ease Sam's suffering and with Precious nearby, we gently let Sam go.
What astounded us was when we then moved Sam's body in preparation for transport from the sanctuary, we witnessed Precious gather all the herd, her family, to be near him before he was taken away to his final resting place.
Precious had an opportunity to grieve for her boy because she lived somewhere where she was respected and free. Farm Animal Rescue is a place we imagined where animals could live this way, made possible by people who feel exactly the way we do about animals.
After living for many years at our animal sanctuary, Precious was revered as matriarch of the sanctuary cow herd. However she started to suffer from old age ailments not generally granted to her species whose lives are generally cut short, at least those bred into the animal agriculture industry.
In mid December 2021 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. We started to make plans to put her under a marquee tomorrow to provide some shade.
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, and there would be quite some pain for her to endure.
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 continues 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.
We kept a close eye on her food and water intake, however we also considered it might be good if she lost a little weight as it will assist in recovery to give the stifle less weight to carry.
Precious loved her lucerne, her carrots, her freedom, her herd and her life. She lived a full and blissful life and we loved her. She got to enjoy giving birth and raising her son. On 17th February 2022 after some months of chronic illness, Precious passed away, finally easing her suffering.
"What I urge people to remember is that these are living, breathing, conscious and emotional creatures, that really do have societies and families, acknowledge and respect each other, exactly the same as us" Brad, Founder, Farm Animal Rescue