Monday, December 28, 2015

The Calf With the Broken Leg...Part 1...

Once upon a time, there was a newborn calf...

She was born three weeks early, so we weren't expecting her so soon.  One of the other animals in the pen inadvertently stepped on her newborn leg...

and it broke...

This is the first time we've had this happen in twenty-two years of farming, and we weren't sure what her prognosis would be.  We thought we'd have to put her down, but when Jim talked to the vet this morning, the vet was optimistic, so we decided to go ahead and have her little leg put in a cast.

The back leg nearest to you in this picture is the one that is broken...

We put her into a pen that was heavily bed up with clean, dry straw.  She was then sedated, and the vet began casting the leg...

If I tried to explain exactly why each step happened, I'd only be guessing, but I'll give you a brief explanation.

First, her leg was generously powdered...

Next he put a long "sock" on her leg, from her hoof up to her "thigh"...

Next came the gauze, which helps protect the leg...

Then he wet the plaster...

Wrapped it and smoothed it...over and over again until it formed a thick cast...

The top and bottom of the "sock" were turned down and more plaster put over top...

Jim and I watched...and talked about the process and the prognosis...

All finished.  The plaster quickly hardened and dried...

She'll sleep for a while yet, and then the fun will begin, of teaching her to stand up with an awkward cast on her whole leg.  The break was in her lower leg, but the cast had to go the whole length of her leg in order to provide the stability necessary for healing.

Her cast will remain on for six weeks, and then hopefully she'll have healed completely.  Young, healthy calves typically heal well.

I'll keep you posted on her progress.  Hopefully it will have a happy ending!


  1. Oh no. I'm so sorry the little one was injured. It's amazing she even survived being three weeks early. Hope she heals well.

  2. Oh, the poor little girl... and it would have to be a heifer! So sorry to read this.

  3. I am sure she will be just fine. We found a stray kitty with a broken leg, same process, and once he learned how to stand on it you can't believe how much he would race around the house with his leg in a cast. She will do that too. Heifers are just too valuable to have to put one down. Poor baby. Yes, do keep us informed.

  4. can't imagine her growth during that 6 week period and having that cast on her leg during it! good luck, little one!

  5. Oh the poor little thing. I hope she will heal well. New born calf grows so rapidly, I hope her leg will be OK.

    Thanks for the step by step photos of the whole thing. I'm sure she will be walking on that leg in no time.

    We just got a little heifer calf born last night that the mother rejected violently. She had to be removed from the pen to protect her. We don't see than often.

    All the Best in the New Year.

  6. Alicia,
    I have never seen a plaster cast put on a calf, wow. On occasion we will have a calf stepped on too. The last one we had was 2014 or 2013. We splinter the leg and wrap, wrap, wrap. We've found that young calves will heal fast!

    Hope your little broken leg calf is doing good.

  7. As long as it wasn't an open fracture these usually do great but she may out grow the cast before 6 weeks. She's in good hands.

  8. How wonderful to see this!!!! yes, she surely will be fine with good folks like you loving her through it all. I am sure by the time the cast is too small the knitting on the bone will be so that it cam come off easily. What a lovely thing to see all this love in a world seemingly confused and distracted!! Can't wait to hear of her good progress..Cheers, merri

  9. Glad there are vets smart enough to do that kind of work. It would be a shame to put her down. Beautiful baby. Best wishes.

  10. Well now, isn't that something! I had no idea that a calf could have a cast??!! Awesome!!!
    I hope that she heals well, and is one of your best cows ever!!

    Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!!


  11. Wishing the best to this sweet little calf. I hope the healing process works well!


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