December 19, 2016

(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey folks, Dr. Dan here. Thanks for joining me today on DocTalk. We’re at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and my guest is Dr. Jenn Schleining. We’re gonna have a great show talking about how to put chains on the calves when you pull them, what can go wrong and how you can fix those calves if it does. Stay tuned and enjoy the show.

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(Dr. Dan) Welcome to the show. (Dr. Jenn Schleining) Thank you. (Dr. Dan) Folks, Dr. Jenn Schleining, She is the Armbrust Professor of Veterinary Medicine here at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and she’s also a food animal surgeon. Lastly, she went to veterinary school with me, so we have sworn that none of those stories will be shared on this episode. (Dr. Jenn) Right. (Dr. Dan) Anyway, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show. It’s a wealth of information for all of you that raise cattle. You need to look Dr. Schleining up on the website and we really appreciate everything you do for our industry. (Dr. Jenn) Thanks for having me and happy to be here. (Dr. Dan) We’re going to talk about calving. (Dr. Jenn) We are. It doesn’t seem like it’s all that far away but time goes fast, so where we’re going to start today is I want to discuss how to correctly put chains on. When you get to that situation and your cow is having just a little bit of trouble and might need a little bit of assistance. We’re just going to walk through how to do that. First of all, here we have Snowflake and Frosty. Thanks Frosty you’re a good girl to help us demonstrate how to do this correctly. A lot of people worry should I use chains or should I use straps. And really it’s not really going to make that much of a difference as long as you use them properly and put them on correctly. To start with we’ll start out with the chain. A lot of the calving problems that we see after a dystocia management with that calf, could be related to how the chains are put on, so we’re just making a loop. You want to put that loop up above the fetlock and you can see here, we’ve got the ring of that chain where it’s nice and snug up against the skin. Then we’re going to do a half hitch that comes down around our pastern joint like this. The reason that we want this chain to go down the front of this fetlock is because you can see from the side as I put tension on that, it’s causing the leg to bend where it’s got your natural joints. What I’m going to do now is I’m going to switch this around and we’re going to put it on upside down. You can see as we’re putting this on backwards, we’re going to put that chain down the back of the leg and what I want you to see is as I pull on that, see how that makes the leg extend. And then what happens is it puts a lot of pressure up here at the growth plate and in newborn calves that growth plate is not very strong and it will pop that growth plate off, we’ll look at some x-rays of that here a little bit later. The one nice thing about the chain that the strap doesn’t give the advantage of – is when you take your handles and I’ll grab one of those from you. There are times that you want your handle here nice and close to the calf, but it also gives you the option when you have to put a calf jack on that you can put this back a little further and get you a little extra room. When we have the strap, can you hold that again? Thank you. One of the nice things about the strap though is that when you go to put this on you can appreciate that maybe that pressure is distributed just a little bit more evenly and you aren’t going to have nearly the problem as you might have with a chain, and you can see here how we slip that on. But you only have that much room to work with. Putting your chains and your straps on is really important to help prevent injuries to the legs. (Dr. Dan) Perfect. Folks thanks for watching DocTalk, more with Dr. Schleining, after these messages.

(Dr. Dan) Hey, folks welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan Thomson here at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. I’m here with my friend and colleague Dr. Jenn Schleining, who is the Armbrust Professor of Veterinary Medicine and is a food animal veterinary surgeon and we just talked to you all about putting the chains on correctly. Now we’re going to talk about when things go wrong if you don’t do it correctly. (Dr. Jenn) Right. I’ve got a few x-rays here to show, our listeners and our viewers. This is a front leg of a newborn calf and what we’re looking at here this is the fetlock; this is the little knee sitting up here. You can see that the bone is very clearly broken here and this is a very common injury for them to have. This is right where that chain goes, and so when that abnormal pressure you pull too hard they’re just not enough room to have the calf this is the result of that and you see– (Dr. Dan) Can’t just get the loop above the fetlock without the second half hitch? (Dr. Jenn) Yes without that second half hitch, that really predisposes that because you don’t have any pressure distribution from having that half hitch there. If we look at it from the front you can see here right at that growth plate it just pops that growth plate off. This is something that is important to address it right away when we can talk about that here after a little while but, probably one of the more common things. The good news is calves are young, as long as the blood supply to the leg is good; this will heal really fast that was just a cast. That’s the good news about an injury like this. (Dr. Dan) You can cast an injury like this. But pop it back in place put a cast on it and we’re going to talk more about the cast in a minute. (Dr. Jenn) Yes, they typically do pretty well with it. But let’s talk about what goes wrong. Let’s say you have a breach birth and the calf coming backwards and this is another area where we see some fairly frequent injuries to the back legs where they can’t quite get up or they “dock the calf walks funny” and can’t really stand up straight. What we’re looking at here, so this is the pelvis of a calf and we have both femurs here is the hip joints here. This is a normal x-ray and you can see that our femurs are sitting right into the hip joint, these lines right here again are growth plates and this is a very common place that if there’s too much traction when they’re coming backwards they’ll pop these growth plates off. Or conversely what they’ll do — this is just another look at one of those socket joints of the hip. The other thing that can happen is that when you pull too hard, you can see here it’s not sitting down there anymore and now the head of the femur is sitting right up here. There’s a ligament that holds the femur into that hip joint. And then when that breaks it causes it to get popped out of joint. Another common thing for backwards calves, unfortunately, is that we can get breaks along the growth plate of the femur, and this is down by the stifle joint. Here’s your hip again. And the thing that makes femur fractures so complicated is that you can see most time there’s so much muscle mass over the top of those. They’ve got one end pointed north and one end point pointed south and they don’t meet in the middle very well, as you can see here so it can be fairly complicated to get those back together. And then additionally, a lot of times to get those to stay back together we have to use some fairly expensive implants or some other creative methods of keeping those bones together because they’re really soft. (Dr. Dan) Wow. So make sure you have chains plied appropriately. We’re going to come back and talk a little bit about how we heal these calves and some things you can do to prevent some of these injuries from happening. You’re watching DocTalk and we appreciate it.

(Dr. Dan) Folks welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here at Iowa State University with Dr. Jenn Schleining and we are in the Clinical Skills Laboratory and we’ve been talking about how to put chains on appropriately, things that can go wrong; and now if we do have something wrong like you mentioned luckily we can fix it. (Dr. Jenn) Yes, we’ve got some options you bet. One of the most common ways to treat fractures, obviously calves are young they heal quickly, we can confine them a little bit, a cast oftentimes is all it needs, depends a little bit on what bone is broken. If it’s really high on the leg, a cast might not be the best choice. But when that’s the lower leg, casting is by far the easiest it’s most economical, but there’s a few things that have to happen after the vet leaves the farm that need to happen to make sure that we have a good outcome. What I have here is this is just a cast that we put on and taken off from — for the purposes of the showing. Cast material it’s something that we put on wet and as it dries you can see it makes it a really hard substrate. What this is going to do is keep that bone in alignment. The vet is probably going to put some padding in under this but you can imagine if you’ve had a cast on before, I imagine you probably broke a few bones in your life. (Dr. Dan) I have [laughs] (Dr. Jenn) This not only does it keep it from moving but also it can be a little bit of- it kind of prevents your movement such that it bothers you. You can’t really walk around the way you want to or use your arm the way you want to and the same is for calves especially if you have a young calf that hasn’t stood up yet. You call your vet a couple days later the calf hasn’t figured out how to stand up. You put a cast on the leg they can’t bend it, and then they might have some mental hurdles to get over and might need some help. But the one thing that tough cast material can also cause is cast sores. For that reason we want to confine the cow calf pair, hopefully he’s got a nice mama that lets you in there if he’s needing help getting up, so that we don’t have those casts sores. If the cast is not tight we get movement within the cast and then we have cast sores right where the fracture line is and so that can be a little bit problematic too. When we come out to the farm and put one of these on or you bring calf into the hospital we send you home and say confine him we don’t mean put him in a small 10-acre pasture, we’re talking about put him in a small pen by themselves where they can get up, get down, they’re easy if they need a little bit of assistance. They’re going to wear one of these for probably four weeks depending on how well the calf is doing the faster they grow we might have to take this off after three weeks because it’s getting too tight but that fracture isn’t quite done healing yet we might have to put another one on. (Dr. Dan) You might have to put two casts? (Dr. Jenn) Yes and every patient is a little bit different every bone heals just a little bit differently at different rate, but a cast is by far the- (Dr. Dan) You can use these on lower limb for fractures; you can use it for that growth plate, multiple different reasons. (Dr. Jenn) You bet. (Dr. Dan) Great. Well folks get your veterinarian on the farm, always work with your local veterinarian when you have an issue like this so that you can heal the calf, get things moving right. There are remedies to get these calves fixed and when we come back we’re going to talk a little bit more about when to call that vet. Really important stuff, thanks to Dr. Jenn for being here on the show, thanks to Iowa State for hosting us, more after these messages.

(Dr. Dan) Hey folks welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Jenn Schleining she’s the Armbrust Professor of Veterinary Medicine here at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Where she serves as a food animal surgeon and we had a great show today and lots of practical information that producers and ranchers could use but the one thing we always say as veterinarians is “I wish you had called me sooner.” (Dr. Jenn) Right, yes. (Dr. Dan) Talk to me a little bit about when you want people to call you as a veterinarian or to call their local veterinarian to get some assistance. (Dr. Jenn) I think it’s in our nature really to seem, “you know what it’s just a little dumpy today let’s give it a little bit of Banamine and see how it turns out tomorrow.” These situations where these newborn calves, where the calf doesn’t stand up right away, you need to call your vet sooner than later and really I don’t think anyone has ever chastised an owner for calling too soon. In these cases it might make the difference between having something that you can work with and something that you can’t especially in the case of these hip joints that are out of place, those can be fairly easily reduced or that hip joint put back in place but it has to be within 12 hours to have the best chance of that thing staying in there without having other sorts of internal fixation that really gets a little expensive. But, even with fractures if those go un-stabilized and you have a leg that is kind of flopping around it can damage the blood supply to the distal limb and so if you don’t have a blood-supply below the fracture obviously it’s not going to heal, and you’re going to have some problems that way. So, the sooner that we can intervene in those instances the better off we’re going to be. The other reason that’s so important too, and I learned this the hard way early on in practice, is that a calf that can’t get up doesn’t get colostrum and so if it’s a day or two until we get the phone call, well now not only do you have a broken leg but you have a calf that doesn’t have immunity and so they’re already way behind the 8-Ball and they don’t have that colostrum, they’re going to have infection and it just increases your morbidity and decreases the risk, or decreases the chances that you’re going to have a successful outcome. (Dr. Dan) Probably you going to give that calf colostrum and then worry about the leg. (Dr. Jenn) Yes or in fact hey here’s an idea call me you get the colostrum while I’m on my way. (Dr. Dan) That’s a great idea. (Dr. Jenn) Yes. (Dr. Dan) Yes, I think that there’s a lot of times too and when we think there’s a calf that we can pull and when it’s not something we’re doing as a producer on a day-to-day basis. The practitioners are seeing the most difficult cases day in and day out and just the chance of survivability and opportunity exists and that’s why these people live in your community. (Dr. Jenn) Right absolutely and so anytime that you can get a veterinarian in on the process, the sooner the better and the better chance you’re going to have a positive outcome. (Dr. Dan) Well sure appreciate you being on the show, appreciate your friendship and all that you do for veterinary medicine. (Dr. Jenn) Thanks I’m happy to do it. (Dr. Dan) Great, folks Dr. Jenn Schleining, she’s the Armbrust Professor of Veterinary Medicine and is a food animal surgeon here at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Thanks for watching DocTalk remember always work with your local veterinarian and if you want to know more about what we do on the show you can find us on the web at I’m Dr. Dan Thomson thanks for joining us On the Road today at Iowa State University and I’ll see you down the road.

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