Last year, in addition to milk fever after calving, Katika tore her udder. At the time I thought she had stepped on it. It was a mess, and one that worsened day by day. Her engorged udder seemed to be splitting open like an overripe peach.
Later my vet explained to me that it was not that Katika or any older cow actually steps on their low-hanging udder — instead the tearing is done by the dew claw on the back of the fetlock swiping past the swollen bag as the cows maneuver to their feet. The dew claws are hard and triangular, like sharp spades. Katika’s dew claws were catching and ripping the wound larger every time she stood up.
This year the moment she began to bag up I wrapped her dew claws in Vetwrap. Here is Katika nine days ago. Her udder is much bigger and bulges lower now.
Every other day I’d find the wrap sagging over her hooves like fallen ankle socks and I’d replace it. Her udder is more pendulous than ever with this pregnancy and despite all my worry I have felt victorious in this one small thing. At least she hasn’t torn her bag!
But last night when I brought Katika into the barn I saw that her left rear quarter — the one that was kicked by a pony and thus swings lower than all the others — was washed with blood.
My heart jumped. So far the wound is only a raw scrape, about 2″x2″ — but how did it happen? The Vetwrap was still in place! I ran my hands over her fetlocks and discovered that the sharp dew claws had sawed right through the layers of soft material. Argh!
Before I left the barn I had wrapped her dew claws again — this time in duct tape. I’m looking for industrial strength protection.
* * *
DH and I got up at 3 AM this morning and he was out the door, headed for California, at 3:30. I had checked the barn at 9 PM, at midnight, and now I checked it at 4 AM. The geese gabbled and Katika chewed her cud gravely. No calf.
I have written up a long list of tasks I want to accomplish in the week DH is gone… but it is hard to think about anything else when I am holding my breath for this calving. Today makes six days overdue.