Machinery & Products

Effective options to manage downer cows

By Dairy News

DAIRY FARMERS are integrating Steinfort AgVet’s Pelvic Lift and RiserTank devices to transport and rehabilitate downer cows.

The Pelvic Lift is designed to lift and transport cows over both short and long distances.

The design enables 50 per cent of the lifting weight to be taken off the hips, when compared to traditional hip clamps, with the other 50 per cent being taken by the pelvis, via the pelvic seat being positioned under the pelvis, well above the udder.

Designer and vet, John Steinfort, said the addition of a webbing strap evenly lifts the brisket.

“As the cow is lifted horizontally, the animal’s back is straight and aligned, unlike using hip clamps where the hind legs are tilted down, placing further strain on the lower back,” Dr Steinfort said.

“Once a cow is lifted she can be stood for longer periods without the traditional damaging effects on the hip muscles.

“Hopefully the cow can walk away or if not, be transported and placed in the RiserTank to further assist the recovery process.”

Aided by the buoyancy of water, Dr Steinfort said the RiserTank provides a confined space in wa-ter to enable the cow to stand and feed for much longer than normal.

“Up to half of the cow’s body weight is reduced when standing in water. Generally a cow stands in warm water for up to 14 hours.

“The water is then drained out and cow is rested overnight within the RiserTank. This process stops the cow to attempt to rise when down within the Risertank.

“Attempting to rise unsuccessfully from a sitting position contributes to significant further damage, where they can quickly become crawlers and never stand again.”

The cows and heifers are continually left in the RiserTank for the duration of their recovery. When they continue to stand for several hours after water release is the sign they are ready to walk out for final recovery stage in nearby paddock, prior to go back with the herd.

Dr Steinfort said research in using the RiserTank has shown an 80 per cent recovery for calving paralysis and downer cows cases, as long as the cows and heifers are lifted in the RiserTank quickly after recognising they are a downer cow.

“Average duration of recovery time in the RiserTank is 1 to 3 days, with more severe cases having longer recovery times.”

According to Xavier Parkinson who milks 900 cows at Koroit in Western Victoria, the RiserTank has doubled their downer cow recovery rate and has helped them in developing a standard proce-dure to better manage downer cows.

The use of the RiserTank has significantly saved on labour with Xavier indicating they cannot de-vote the time to conventionally lift cows regularly.

Sharefarmer Andrew Gaul, who milks 360 cows at Bona Vista in Western Gippsland, said with a downer cow recovery rate of about 85 per cent & cows being valued at $2000 each, the RiserTank has been a good investment.

Mr Gaul said the key to achieving the best results is to get cows into the RiserTank as soon as possible.