Vicki the vet

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Vicki, I need your expert advice. I was given a 5 week old holstein heifer who is walking on her front ankles. (walking on the top of her hooves) When I first got her a week ago, she would kneel to nurse. Now she stands on the tips of her hooves. The ankles will straighten, but won't allow her feet to turn out so that she can walk on the bottom of them. Sometimes, she gets a bit wobbly on them as her shoulders will turn outward as her legs bow out. Should I splint them or let her go? If I splint, how should it be done and with what materials? She will run and bounce around like other calves do, but she does so on the top of her hooves! I dont' want her to injure herself. Dunmovin said she would straighten out eventually if left alone. I'm hoping she does, but want to prevent any further injuries to her. Any advice you give is appreciated.

Ok, you've just said she's already straightened out quite a bit. It will take time for her contracted tendons to lengthen enough for her to bear weight on the heel of her foot. I will usually splint them if they are walking on the top of the hoof, and leave them if bearing on the tip of the toe. There are three ways to handle this. 1) Time--watch to ensure it's improving weekly. You may see a bit of wearing at the toe if this goes on too long, which can cause pain. This will generally indicate a change is needed. 2) Splint with 3" PVC tubing split lengthwise, length below the knee. Padding can be cotton batten, covered with gauze roll, snug but not tight,(higher and lower than PVC) then the PVC, then good tape such as duct tape 3) for the really impatient, rich owner and valuable animals, surgery can be done. Likely overkill.

As you can see, try giving a "tincture of time"

Thanks, Vicki. Today at feeding time she kept her right leg pretty straight, standing on the toe of it. However, her left leg is still a bit weak. I'm going to give her a little more time to see how things progress. Then I'll try the splinting if need be.

Thanks again for your help!


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