Dr Phil Poulton from the Tarwin Vet Clinic in Leongatha, Gippsland spoke at a Farmchat day a couple of years ago. Phil has completed a PhD looking at nursing outcomes for Downer Cows. Phil had some key take-home messages to improve outcomes in the nursing of Downer Cows:

  1. Act early in the treatment of these animals 
  2. Don’t leave them out in the elements – move them correctly into a protected area with soft bedding
  3. Give non-steroidal anti-inflammatory early, such as Tolfejec, Key or Meloxicam
  4. Ensure they have access to food and water
  5. Roll from side to side to relieve pressure on muscle tissue

He has found many animals suffer from secondary conditions like mastitis, hypothermia, dehydration & muscle damage which will generally be the cause of death rather than the primary condition. Lifting needs to be done with care - if using a set of hip clamps then a chest strap should also be used and move only short distances. Otherwise, the bucket of a front end loader is ideal. 

Warrnambool Veterinary have developed an easy-to-use flow chart for the potential causes of Down Cows along with a Guide on the Care and Management  of Downer Cows.

To order a copy of these valuable resources please contact the Farm Desk on 5561 7666 or email to farmdesk@wvc.com.au.