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Old 05-04-2011, 10:19 PM   #1
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Cait's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Michigan
Posts: 787
Calf with broken leg

We run a small cow-calf beef operation and our cows started freshening about a month ago. We had a cow with a set of twins who orphaned one (who we are now bottle feeding) and is being a great mom to the other. However, she apparently stepped on the calf as it has a broken leg.

We carried the calf and locked it up with its mother in the barn so that it doesn't have to move to keep up with the herd. I am in the process of getting my dad to have the vet out to look at the calf's leg, however, will a vet really be able to do anything for a calf?

I imagine that something can be done with the leg such as a cast, however, my dad doesn't want to put a lot of money into the calf. The cow and calf also aren't exactly tame either. Our cows are by now means wild (you walk close to them) but they don't let you walk up and scratch them either.

So, what do you all think? Has anyone else had an experience like this?
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Old 05-05-2011, 04:16 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Michigan
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Just fixed a leg on an adult goat not sure why you couldn't on a calf depending on where it is. Take a piece of PVC pipe cut it so that it fits (if this is where the break is) just below the hock and down to the bulb of the foot. Cut it in half long ways so you end up with a giant U piece of PVC. Pad the inside, I use diapers or pads depending on the size of the animal, then cover with duct tape. I wrap the duct tape all the way around the PVC...just because. You'll need a good holder, take the PVC , lay it on the back of the leg, wrap vet wrap around to secure in place. Then firmly but not tight, wrap the vet wrap from top to bottom of hte "cast". Secure with duct tape, for the goats we leave on until it falls off or until it gets really gross looking. Eitehr way about a month, considering his size you should probally go for 6 weeks.
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:32 AM   #3
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Location: NW IL
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Yes- they will fix a broken leg

Yes, the vet will cast the broken leg. Had this happen at my uncles small feed lot. The calf was stepped on. Had to run cow into head gate to get near calf and once caught casted the leg and let him and Momma out with the rest of the pairs. In a few weeks vet came out again removed the cast and calf was good as new. Don't remember the cost but worth it. Beef is pretty high now so I would think the small expense of fixing the calf would pay off when he is sold at weaning
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:47 AM   #4
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We also had a calf that broke it's leg did the same thing that Karen did with the PVC pipe we use the cotton for horses wraps in it we put the cow and calf in a pen in the barn so not to stress it out keeping up with the herd or moveing around too much also easier to find if the splint/cast comes off it will also move around some and have to be re done depending on how good you are at it it takes practice the calf was tame after that we still have her and she is due to calve in June even named her ( Hilde/ #60) It is a 2 person job on calves as we laid her down to do it. You can't tell by looking at it that it was broke and no problems after that I know we had it on for over a month and after that went to a soft wrap ( no pvc) for a week We did have a vet look at it first as we were not positve what was wrong with her I think she was only a couple days old when it happened Good luck yes cows are high at the market over 1$ for fed cattle and in the 70's for cull cows wish we had some to sell
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:55 AM   #5
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I know someone that had a bull calf that broke it's leg. They did not have a vet look at it and tried to cast it themselves. The leg healed but it was not right. The owners weren't pleased that there efforts didn't have better results but he was able to walk on it and they already had plans to butchered him.

I had a goat with a broken leg years ago and my vet said unless she had surgery and have it pinned it would never be right and he offered no guarantee. The surgery would have been costly and he had never operated on a goat before. He said given where the fracture was a cast wouldn't work. So he suggested I get her as mobile as I could and send her to the sale barn. With hard work and dedication I got her so she walked with a limp and with tear filled eyes sent her to the sale barn.

I think it makes a difference as to where the fracture is as how one treats it and with all livestock the end has to justify the means. Sometimes the decision we are forced to make is not an easy one.

Your doing the right thing by asking your vet. It will help you make an informed decision on what course of action to take. Good luck and I hope you get the answer you are searching for.
May your troubles be less, Your blessings be more,
and nothing but happiness come through your barn door.
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Old 05-07-2011, 08:13 PM   #6
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Location: Alberta
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We get the odd calf with a broken leg, usually when the bulls get put in with the cows. yes, depending on where the break is, front or back, high or low, it is fixable. We just put the calf on the calf table and cast it up. We buy the casting at the drug store. Cow and calf are locked up for a week or two in the barn, then into the small pen. Calf has to be checked regularily for tightness, and if it is too tight before the six weeks are up we put on a new cast. If it's raining, we put them up in the barn too. So far all have healed well, but all were sent to sale as yearlings. I think we ate one as the leg didnt' heal perfectly straight and would have taken too big of hit at the auction.
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