May 18, 2016
A broken leg is something ranchers wish wouldn’t happen to one of their calves, but it’s a common accident that can occur if a cow steps on a newborn calf, if the calf suffered through a difficult labor with improper assistance, or a calf gets trampled or hurt during transportation, branding or by cattle that are spooked by coyotes.
When calves suffer fractured limbs, they should be cast or splinted quickly for proper healing, even before the veterinarian arrives.
Robert Callan, Colorado State University, says he sees largely-avoidable limb fractures in young calves each year from calving-dystocia incidents.
“These can happen when calving chains or straps are placed as a single loop around the foot," he says. "We recommend a double loop, with one loop above the fetlock and a half hitch below the fetlock. This spreads pressure so it isn’t all on one area. We see more fractures when mechanical assistance is used to pull the calf.”
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