broken leg?

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milkmaid

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Break right below the stifle... can a mature cow walk on it?

2-3 year old cow, lame on the left hind, she's not 'stifled', hip and pin bones at same height, no swelling anywhere on the leg, but I'm told she's been this way for a couple weeks. Leg looks/is used in the same manner as a 200lb calf I saw at a vet clinic last summer (intern) that was diagnosed with a broken leg. I'd figured a mature cow wouldn't bear weight on it, but I had the opportunity to look at her today and she gets around pretty good. Is it possible to walk on it if it's broken?
 

hillsdown

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Milkmaid, I really do not think the cow would be able to put weight on a real break ,especially in that area. A calf yes, but a cow ? :?

What about her having a tendon rupture ?
 

Cowdirt

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milkmaid":30lytoxy said:
Break right below the stifle... can a mature cow walk on it?

2-3 year old cow, lame on the left hind, she's not 'stifled', hip and pin bones at same height, no swelling anywhere on the leg, but I'm told she's been this way for a couple weeks. Leg looks/is used in the same manner as a 200lb calf I saw at a vet clinic last summer (intern) that was diagnosed with a broken leg. I'd figured a mature cow wouldn't bear weight on it, but I had the opportunity to look at her today and she gets around pretty good. Is it possible to walk on it if it's broken?

Milkmaid, I had a 400lb bull get a leg broken above the knee (is that the stifle?). Talked with my vet. He said in vet school they jokingly said, "if you put a bovine and a broken bone in the same room, 'it will heal". My bull looked really bad walking but he never quit trying. He kept growing and I sold him to a neighbor for beef later. FWIW.
 

hillsdown

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Cowdirt":31dqb4j7 said:
milkmaid":31dqb4j7 said:
Break right below the stifle... can a mature cow walk on it?

2-3 year old cow, lame on the left hind, she's not 'stifled', hip and pin bones at same height, no swelling anywhere on the leg, but I'm told she's been this way for a couple weeks. Leg looks/is used in the same manner as a 200lb calf I saw at a vet clinic last summer (intern) that was diagnosed with a broken leg. I'd figured a mature cow wouldn't bear weight on it, but I had the opportunity to look at her today and she gets around pretty good. Is it possible to walk on it if it's broken?

Milkmaid, I had a 400lb bull get a leg broken above the knee (is that the stifle?). Talked with my vet. He said in vet school they jokingly said, "if you put a bovine and a broken bone in the same room, 'it will heal". My bull looked really bad walking but he never quit trying. He kept growing and I sold him to a neighbor for beef later. FWIW.

"A full grown animal cannot support that weight to even begin to heal. A calf and a mature animal are very different. Also many breaks are misdiagnosed, they are not breaks but fractures or a torn/ruptured tendon when in fact they will heal . A true break, especially above the "knee" will never heal in a grown animal unless casted and that is almost impossible to do on a bovine ."
 

Lucky_P

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I'm with cowdirt's vet on this one. Femoral and high tibial fractures can heal without casting or splinting - and fairly well, at that. One leg may end up shorter than the other - which could be a problem for a bull mounting to service cows, but if it's a cow, all she's gotta be able to do is walk around, eat, and raise a calf.
However, I'd still be more inclined to suspect a stifle injury, such as a ruptured ACL. Much more common in breeding-age cows than a fracture.
 
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milkmaid

milkmaid

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Lucky_P - I suspected she was stifled initially when I first headed out to look at her, and from a distance I still thought that's what it was, but on closer observation there was literally no swelling. Saw a stifled heifer summer before last and she had a lot of swelling that never went down. Possible to have the same injury and two different presentations?

On further thought, if I get a video of said cow walking, would you be willing to offer an opinion?
 

Lucky_P

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milkmaid,
I've seen a number of cows - and quite a few bulls - with stifle injuries - usually partial or complete ACL ruptures. Can't recall ever really noticing much in the way of swelling - but it was often several days(or weeks) down the road before I was called in to look at 'em.
Have had a few stifled cows(probable ACL rupture) in my own herd - and saw them pretty soon after, but I don't necessarily recall remarkable swelling - the gait abnormality was the giveaway to me; hard to describe, but pretty characteristic. If you can get 'em up into the chute, if you're strong enough and have long enough arms, you can usually elicit an 'anterior drawer sign' in that injured stifle.

Sure, I'd offer an opinion - but it'll be just that, my opinion - and sometimes ya get what ya pay for! ;>)
 

jillaroo

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Milkmaid,

Can you cast the cow (lie her down) on her good side? Stand by her hip on the same side as her spine, reach over her body and grab the injured leg (can use a rope to help). Pull the leg straight up while keeping your other hand over the injured area. Often, a broken leg will "grind" and give the diagnosis. If you cannot cast her, you can also run her into a squeeze that has a drop side and try the same leg lift. Move the leg forward and backward also. I have done this numerous times in the feedlot to "diagnose" fx's. There is usually a lot of swelling associated with the fx as well.
By the way, I have also seen 1200# steers walk on fx'd limbs. You can tell something is wrong as they are quite lame, but they can bear weight if it hits the ground right.
Maybe some pics would help?
 
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milkmaid

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Had to clear out for college right after that last post and didn't get a chance to get back out to pasture and find that cow. Thanks for the comments on the situation though.
 

jilleroo

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A story re broken legs - we had a big heavy char cow snap a front leg fighting around a lick tub. The offside leg, just below the knee, and it was just swinging. I was all for shooting her as quick as possible. Hubby said no, leave her a while and see what happens. A bad cruel idea I thought at the time. As luck would have it, she was at a watering point right which was beside a laneway which also had a water trough. We slowly hopped her through into there so she had no other cattle to harrass her. She was miles from the homestead so we carted out a round bale of grass hay (it was drought conditions) and plopped that beside her. Anyway she never did take a mouthful of that hay. Everytime we went out there, couple times a week, she was camped in a soft gilgai (depression in the ground). She managed to hop around and get a bit of black dry grass, never really lost much condition, and the leg was healed in a few weeks! No lameness or shortening of the leg, just a lump on the inside of the bone and the hoof wasnt dead straight. The cow produced a large bull calf soon after that and was trucked off on agistment with her mates. We still have her.
I'm certainly not recommending benign neglect is the way to go though - every case is different. Her leg did swell greatly which somehow seemed to splint it! By the time the swelling went down, it was knitted.
Have also had a baby calf with a high fracture in his back leg heal completely after being confined to a pen in which he could only stand up and lie down for a couple of weeks. He grew into a big bullock.
Other broken calf legs, we set with wide plaster of paris bandages, even in beasts up to six months old. A rodeo to get on and off again!! Thankfully they are a rare occurrence.
 

MoGal

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Hubby's cow "Pet" was a yearling and broke her back leg above the ankle, about 6 inches above the hoof line..... vet diagnosed it, broken, bone was showing..... hubby says she laid around for 2-3 weeks (he fed her grain and water) and then finally got up and has been going ever since..... she does have arthritis in that leg but she's now 23 years old. Hubby says the vet gave her antibiotic shot ( but I wonder if maybe it was something else as that was 22 years ago).

MM - also I would think some of it may depend upon how healthy she is now, her nutrition level as to how quick she might mend.
 

angus9259

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Lucky_P":2ymh7yc5 said:
milkmaid,
I've seen a number of cows - and quite a few bulls - with stifle injuries - usually partial or complete ACL ruptures. Can't recall ever really noticing much in the way of swelling - but it was often several days(or weeks) down the road before I was called in to look at 'em.
Have had a few stifled cows(probable ACL rupture) in my own herd - and saw them pretty soon after, but I don't necessarily recall remarkable swelling - the gait abnormality was the giveaway to me; hard to describe, but pretty characteristic. If you can get 'em up into the chute, if you're strong enough and have long enough arms, you can usually elicit an 'anterior drawer sign' in that injured stifle.

Sure, I'd offer an opinion - but it'll be just that, my opinion - and sometimes ya get what ya pay for! ;>)

Lucky - I think I'm seeing this in a bull now - I had a bull with the same "walk" previously. 6 months old - possibly got it from rough housing with the other bulls? Does the characteristic walk you mention look kinda hunched up, doesn't want to put weight on front - maybe minor swelling front knees - kinda of a hunched up hobble till the next time he can lay down?
 

Lucky_P

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a9259,
A 'stifled' (ruptured ACL in most cases) bull or cow is lame in the rear - reluctant to put much weight on the injured leg, at least, early on. After a few weeks, they'll stabilize the joint somewhat and be able to get around better - though may always have a gait abnormality, and bulls may or may not be able to return to active service.
What you're describing - I just looked at 'double-front lameness' -does not sound like a stifle problem. Sounds like you need the vet on site.
 

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