Early Sunday morning, I received an emergency call to go see a cow that had managed to prolapse her uterus after calving. I proceeded to get out of bed, dressed, took the puppy out to go to the bathroom and finally headed out to the call. It was about 25 degrees as I pulled up to the milkhouse. I took a quick inventory of my supplies: lidocaine for an epidural, two buckets of warm water, intravenous fluid administration set, calcium intravenous solution, Bruehner needle, umbilical tape, antibiotic flush, halter, dish soap, and rectal palpation sleeves.
Once I entered the barn, I saw a nice looking herd of Dutch Belted cattle. Dutch Belted are a heritage breed of cattle. I was not aware of any of our main herds being comprised of a heritage breed. I began to ask the farmer how long they had been using the Dutch Belted cattle. I also inquired as to why a commercial dairy would go with something other than Holstein or Jersey. He told me that they has gone to a grazing operation in 2007 and found that the Holsteins did not perform well. Thus began the search for an old breed that was more geared toward grazing. Enter the Dutch Belted. He stated that they selected not only for grazing but also for component composition. On a dairy, they look at pounds of production and butter fat content as their two main drivers for milk economics. He told me that the Dutch have better components than the Holsteins and also that they seem to produce better in the grazing set up. In fact, their best producer made 80 pounds of milk per day at her highest. That is rather good production.
So back to the story at hand. I entered the pen to find the cow with a prolapsed uterus, and reluctance to rise. Once she got up, she was very agitated and weak. I administered the calcium solution via the jugular vein, yet she was unable to get up. At this point, I proceeded to pull her back legs out behind her and administer the epidural. I then cleaned the placental attachments from the uterus, cleaned the lining, and smeared the uterus with the liquid dish soap. At this point, the farmer helped to elevate the uterus and I was able to manipulate it back into its normal location. I placed two sutures with the Bruehner needle and the umbilical tape after filling the uterus with 9 liters of uterine lavage with antibiotics. Following that, I administered a second bottle of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium via the jugular vein. I encouraged the cow to get up and she stood immediately, much stronger than before.
So my Sunday Surprise was not only a very successful outcome on the case at hand, but the chance to discuss heritage breeds with yet another producer.