Today we had to make a phone call to our veterinarian. One of our cows that recently had a baby isn’t eating well, looks a little off and we suspect she has a displaced abomasum or a DA. A displaced abomasum is basically a twisted stomach. Cows have four stomach compartments, one of them being the abomasum. When a cow is under stress and not eating well, her stomach can sometimes twist. It is not uncommon among new mothers.
As you could imagine, a cow is under quite a bit of stress after giving birth. While there are many factors that can result into a DA, nutrition and transition are the primary factors. Cows are VERY picky eaters and if we don’t feed them a precise diet they can sometimes get an upset stomach or worse, a DA. A college professor once told me, “A cow will eat anything and produce well as long as it is exactly what she ate yesterday.” You can see the humor in this, as it is almost impossible to make a recipe exactly the same every time! We work hard to feed them the best diet possible and help them transition into motherhood with ease, but sometimes cows get sick.
When we suspect a DA, we call our veterinarian and he comes to our farm as soon as possible to examine the cow. Today we were right, the vet has confirmed a DA. He does so by using a stethoscope to listen to the cow’s stomach. So, the old gal has a DA and now we must begin surgery to untwist the stomach. I will try to keep the pictures and details minimal for those with weak stomachs.
The first step is to sedate and numb the cow so she doesn’t feel anything. The vet gives her just enough so that she can’t feel anything near the incision site, but is still able to remain standing. The surgery cannot take place if the cow lies down.
Next, he will clip the hair and disinfect around the incision site. It is important to keep everything clean and sterile to avoid infection.
The vet will then make the incision so he can reach the cow’s abomasum and manually untwist it. After the stomach is untwisted and back to its normal position, the vet will stitch the cow up.
Any who, we will continue to observe and care for our patient. I will try to keep you updated on her status. I have no doubt that she is already feeling better and will be eating like pig in no time!