Twisted Gut and Adhesions
There was a challenging start to the week. Following a routine fertility visit, I was asked to examine a sick dairy cow. The poor thing had been a first time calving heifer and subjected to a successful caesarean section. It wasn’t that the calf had been too big, but her pelvis was small.
Two weeks later, at the time of my routine visit, the calf was well, but the heifer had developed a twisted gut, a left displacement of the abomasum. It’s the equivalent of our stomach and lies on the bottom right hand side of the cow. For a variety of reasons, it sometimes inflates like a balloon, displaces and becomes trapped high up on the left hand side in the Antipodes as they call it.
I proceeded endoscopically, with two tiny little holes in the left hand side. I used keyhole surgery to identify the abomasum, deflated it and returned it. She is doing very well, but the downside is that she had developed adhesions, with various parts of the gut glued into the abdomen, leading to peritonitis, infection and inflammation, of the internal area of the abdomen.
I was able by keyhole surgery, which is minimally invasive, to see the extent of the problem, to assess, treat it accordingly and to remove and destroy the glueing and adhesions, allowing the cow to continue her life. She is now doing very well.
Abscesses and Blisters
The next visit was another dairy farm, 300 cows. The size and strength of a dairy farm these days is measured by the number of adult dairy cows. They were handled very comfortably during the TB Test the previous week, but the inevitable disruption caused some excitement among them, with a couple of them riding one another and causing some bruising, with some blood blisters developing under the skin around the rump.
Within a week they had transformed into quite a nasty abscess. So I had the pleasure of removing sizeable accumulations of putrid fluid and giving the poor animal blessed relief by incising in the right place. The problem can be that if you incise and it’s not ready to burst, then along with the release of the unwanted material, the pus, you will invariably cut blood vessels and cause profuse bleeding.
However all is well, the cows are doing well and the farmer has been advised to flush them well with tap water, twice a day for a week. They are expected to recover very quickly.
Rations and the Value of an Independent Approach
The next visit was to a very well run 100 cow dairy herd, alongside a beef and sheep enterprise. The wife is an exceptionally good puppy breeder and they have one or two extremely well looked after breeding bitches. The puppies are, of course, extremely cute.
In this case, I was there to appraise the dairy ration. The farm is well run and the cows are producing well, but the farmer is looking to maximise the output from these cows for a given ration, especially with the contemporary challenges that come with sourcing the right feed. They’re giving a small amount of straw to promote the production of butterfat in the milk, which commands quite a lot more for higher butterfat content.
Straw at the moment is very, very expensive and could quite easily hit £500 a tonne, because of the short supply following last year’s poor harvest. They expect that from August onwards the prices should start going down, because this year’s harvest is likely to be better.
So it’s a matter of trying to get the same result from a different diet. It was a challenge trying to source the right ingredients. Obviously, as a vet, my background is in clinical health and I was trained in nutrition, but I have nowhere near the expertise of a dedicated nutritionist.
The appeal in my case is that I’m independent. I don’t recommend a specific cake, I don’t come with strings attached. It’s always worth working closely with a nutritionist, but any advice I give is independent.