Foot rot or not

I haven’t had to call a veterinarian for several years. At birth, cows and calves probably need veterinarian services the most and we have neither. I also purchase our steers and heifers with their herd work (dehorning, vaccination, etc) already performed. This week I called the vet.

I don’t want our cattle standing in water so I have fenced off the river and provide fresh water for them to drink. One of the main reasons I prefer them not to wade is that it can bring about foot rot. Foot rot occurs when a bacteria enters into cattle through the skin between their hooves. When cattle stand in water, this inter-digital skin softens and allows the bacteria into their system. The bacteria also thrives in the water/urine/feces cocktail that entails most standing water. Unfortunately, the incredible amount of rain has created a small pond where once none existed. I have seen our cattle taking the occasional dip and this week one steer came up lame; it’s gotta be foot rot.

I called Red Lake Veterinary Clinic to take a look at our steer. It’s pretty common foot rot practice to just give the cattle a shot of antibiotic and they get better but I like to have a vet check the foot. I also like Dr Johnson a lot, however a phone conversation would be cheaper than paying for the farm visit if I just wanted to “catch up” with him. Dr Johnson gave the calf a little medication to sooth his nerves, not enough to knock him out but just enough to give him that “six beer sociability” that makes everyone a little easier with which to work. We laid the calf down using a lasso looped once around the shoulder area and once around the loin then pulled from the back which caused the calf to settle to the grass nicely.

It wasn’t foot rot; we wouldn’t have known that without the examination. I covered the walls of our barn with metal about ten years ago, I used self-tapping screws in the process. The screws are made to dig through metal and and bury themselves in the old wood siding. Apparently, one had come loose and had been laying where the cattle walk and relax near the barn. Now, you squeamish folks may want to avert your eyes for the rest of this paragraph. Upon examination, we found that one of those screws had self-tapped its way into the hoof of the little steer. It had been buried so deep and tight that you could see the outline of the washer that is placed near the head of the screw. I you’ve ever stepped on a nail then you know how much it hurts and can understand why this animal was a little reticent to use his front driver’s-side leg. I got a bit driver from the shop and Dr Johnson unscrewed this situation, cleaned up the wound then gave calf some antibiotic.

The calf is fine but still a bit stoned from the medication used to calm his nerves. You or I would need a ride home from the hospital but the calf calmly relaxed and tried to makes sense of his recent alien abduction or perhaps just dreamed about flying until his buzz wore off.

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