Injured calf

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jilleroo

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This heifer calf is three weeks old (black brangus bull x char) and in a lot of pain. She was injured at birth when we pulled her from a heifer - she was stuck on her hips. Despite rotating her, greasing her liberally etc. there was no pretty way to get her out other than pulling her.
She was able to stand with assistance after 24 hours but not able to suck the heifer for the first three days. I tended her for those three days but she is fully fed by the mother now. She does not have any navel infection or joint ill problems and is very well otherwise which makes us reluctant to shoot her yet. Her problem is her very sore off-side hip which doesnt seem to have improved much at all. She can put the point of the hoof on the ground and take a little weight as she hops along, but not much - in general, she doesnt go anywhere and waits for mum to come feed her. Why isnt she getting any better? There is muscle wastage of course and if you press down on the hip, it hurts her a lot. Here's some pics I just took - remember its the offside hip that's sore, the nearside one is fine.
IMG_2608_Small_.JPG

http://ranchers.net/photopost/uploads/2761/IMG_2612_Small_.JPG[img]
[img]http://ranchers.net/photopost/uploads/2761/IMG_2615_Small_.JPG
Any help from you knowledgeable folk would be appreciated!
 

milkmaid

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I'd guess she has that hip out of joint... I've only seen one like that (vet diagnosed anyway) and I'm not certain that's what you have going on, but it would fit the symptoms and the history. X-rays would tell you for sure. Maybe LuckyP will see this and chime in...

If that's the case I don't know of anything you can do for her. The calf I saw had been born normal, injured, and when the vet saw her 2-3 weeks later he said he couldn't do anything (fluid and tissue would have accumulated in the hip socket, making it impossible to replace the head of the femur), and they put her down.
 

milkmaid

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Obviously other possibilities would be joint ill (does she have an abnormal temp?), trauma to the muscles (I did a necropsy on a calf that was hiplocked and likely stepped on, extensive deep bruising to the hind limb muscles from the spine down to the hock and all the way to the pelvis- bones were normal but her muscles wouldn't work for her at the moment), birth defect (doesn't sound too likely), nerve damage (ie to femoral or sciatic nerve, could be due to pressure, muscle trauma, bruising/swelling, etc - but you would expect her to improve).

On a side note- regardless of cause, when a calf never gets to use a limb, they do reach a point where they *quit* using it and won't use it again. I had a calf with joint ill in the stifle like that - at about 250lbs her off-side hind limb called it quits since it had had to bear all her hind end weight. In retrospect, I should have shot her in the beginning.

Keep us posted...
 
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jilleroo

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Thankyou Milkmaid. She doesn't have joint ill, the problem definitely occurred when she was hiplocked and we had to just haul her out, my worst nightmare - it's a wonder that was her only injury, although she did take a bit of resuscitating. She does definitely put a little weight on it, it's not just swinging, but she's not improving. I gave her dex and she's had aspirin at times, but that's about all. Won't be quitting on her yet, no one around here is too quick to get the gun out....
 

wbvs58

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Jilleroo, from the history and the photo, there has to be some significant damage in the hip as Milkmaid suggested dislocated,or fractured through the growth plate of the ball of the femur, it runs parallel to the ball of the hip and not much under the surface, it is probably weaker than the joint itself and the most likely place things would come apart from heavey traction. I think most of the swelling would be it trying to heal back to the acetabulum, bone against bone would produce a lot of callous by this time.
If you can lay it on its side and push down on the greater trochanter (where most of the swelling is) with the palm of your hand and then have someone move the leg back and forth and then rotate it in and out, I think you would feel crepitus, the grinding of bone against bone. Also if you can lay it on its back and pull both legs out behind it, the crook leg would be noticeably shorter, however I think at this stage the leg wont go back, it will just stick up in the air with limited movement. This is a good test if you suspect something wrong early on.
It is possible to put a fresh dislocation back in with a young animal, but this is too late and I strongly suspect it to be a fracture through the growth plate, in which case you would get it in a reduced position only to have it go back when you let go. A fracture and a dislocation would be impossible to seperate by feel alone, only with a dislocation you would have a chance to reduce it if got early.
I am afraid I don't think there is much future for your heifer other than keeping it going for a while to grow to put in the freezer and that leg would not be of much use for that. There is also the issue of pain with bone against bone. I know that being on site you are the best to judge that, but I can not see any future for the heifer.
Ken
PS in dogs the head and neck of the femur can be removed, eliminating bone to bone and a fairly mobile union of grissley tissue forms which gives the animal quite good mobility and use of the leg.
 
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jilleroo

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Yep, I think your diagnosis is pretty spot-on Ken. I think I'll leave her for the time being and hope for a miracle, seeing as how it's not costing me any money to keep her alive. But if she doesnt improve in another week or so, I'll reassess the situation as we can't let her keep suffering. Thanks for the expert help!
 

Lucky_P

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I'm with Ken on all counts - but don't be too hasty to put this calf down due to what you perceive as 'suffering'. She may never use this leg correctly - and may walk 3-legged, but that doesn't necessarily mean she's in any pain or discomfort. In most cases, callus tissue, formed mostly within the first two weeks following a break, will stabilize any fracture, and 'bone-on-bone' grating will no longer be an issue. If the hip is dislocated, they'll often form a 'false joint' - though in a newborn, as previously stated, fracture/dislocation of the 'growth plate' is more likely.
She's likely destined to be freezer beef - and may have to go that route at a lower weight/degree of finish than you'd prefer.
 
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jilleroo

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Thankyou Lucky. It's great to be able to go on here and get good advice.
 

hillsdown

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I would just keep up supportive therapy like you are and wait and see. I had a twin like that a few years ago, and although she was never perfect she did live long enough for me to put her in my freezer. As long as she is really not suffering ,then you have nothing to lose. Sometimes we do get a miracle . :nod:

Like Lucky described on how they heal is the same way that Nikki has healed after her FHR surgery. There is no bone on bone rubbing ,so no pain, no arthritis setting in . Just scar tissue and muscle holding the leg and joint together .

Best of luck and keep us all updated .
 

HomePlaceAngus

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Everyone above has given you good advice. I also agree with Ken's dynastic of the calf's problem. The question is whether she is in pain. If not keep going and see what happens. When I have an animal in pain because of a joint problem I give it shots of FluMing. That seems to help them work through the pain and heal. Good luck !!!!!
 
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jilleroo

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The calf is no better. She can still hop along on the point of the hoof but if she needs to run, she carries the leg. Still not going anywhere much, just waiting for mum to come to her to feed her. I put her under a tree near a watering point. Will give her a bit longer yet though - mainly because nobody is going to go shoot her anyway.
 

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