Ten days ago, Ruby’s little heifer, now known as Peggy, had her right rear leg broken. On Monday, Dr Comyn returned to the farm to remove the first cast and put on a replacement. Calves grow so quickly that the first cast was already too small.
About an hour before the vet was scheduled to arrive, Bill and I began the process of separating Ruby and Peggy from the herd and getting them up to the corral. Neither large or small bovine was pleased about heading back to the corral, but thankfully both cooperated enough that the effort didn’t take too long to accomplish. Of course, the oldest bull calf in the herd decided to tag along making the task a bit more complex. Hazel, his mama, didn’t miss him at all during the 20 minutes he spent cavorting in the corral and was only slightly curious when he finally reappeared in the field.
When Dr Comyn arrived, we move Ruby into the crowding pen so that we could work with Peggy and not worry about a protective mama. After giving Peggy an injection of Ketamine to sedate her, Dr Comyn began work on removing the first cast. This morning, Peggy took up a lot more space on the tailgate than she had 10 days ago.
The outer wraps of the first cast were cutaway, exposing the set of wires that Dr Comyn had placed between the cotton layer and the hard cast.
We set Peggy on the ground for better stability, and then Dr Comyn secured each end of one wire to a handle. Sawing the wire back and forth, a clean cut was made through one side of the cast. Then we flipped Peggy over, and the process was repeated using the second wire on the opposite side of the cast.
We lifted Peggy back up on the tailgate and the cast easily peeled off, exposing the soft cotton padding and cotton sleeve underneath. When everything had been removed, Dr Comyn examined the broken area on Peggy’s leg. Her injured leg was a lot thinner than a normal leg and had developed a callous that could be felt along the break line.
And then the process of casting the leg was repeated. Pull on a new sock, add a couple rolls of soft cotton, enclose 2 wires one each side of the leg, add two rolls of wet cast, add a rubber glove on the hoof for water proofing, and finally add a roll of adhesive cloth bandage for extra protection.
Peggy will be back in the field for the next 10 days, walking through grass, rain puddles and mud, cow pies and horse poop. This cast has to hold up and help her leg heal as she follows mama to the water trough, to the shade tree, as she nurses and when she plays with the other calves.
We laid Peggy in the corral on a bed of hay to sleep off the effects of the sedative. As soon as she was awake enough to stand, I let her mama back in with her. Before noon, the pair was back in the field with the herd.
The next morning, Peggy was fully recovered and comfortable with her new cast. She easily kept up with her mama and all of the other calves in the field.
Next week, the cast will be removed and then Peggy with her Mama will spend a week or so sequestered in the corral while her leg gains strength and rebuilds muscle and bone.