The Humane Thing To Do

Today is one of those days I wish the animal rights activists could spend the day on the farm with us.

A few days ago a heifer we’d been watching calved in the usual place – the scrubbiest, hardest to get at spot on the place!

Normally she’d be in the springer paddock, but she had no respect for fences! So she was running with the main herd. Which is ok as we could keep a good eye on her.

She didn’t come home one afternoon and we ran out of light before we found her.

The calf was not alive when we found her early the next morning, but she was up and walking around which was good.

We walked her home and she came into the bales that afternoon as per usual.

What wasn’t usual was the massive odeama (swelling of the udder) under her belly. Or the hardness of her teats.

I gave her the usual treatment – Syntocin – to assist the ‘letting down’ reflex so she’d milk, relieving the pressure.

A couple of phone calls and no milk later I found I had done all I could for the day and that is wasn’t unusal for a heifer with a large odeama not to let her milk down. I just had to hope for the best.

She didn’t let her milk down the next morning, though the teats were slighty more pliable. Some milk came out of the front quarters the afternoon and the next morning (yesterday).

We called the local vet to come have a look.

The vet hadn’t seen a heifer with the swelling of the udder and glands like this poor girl had. And that she was probably pre ordained to have this problem.

There was not a lot we could have done to prevent this. Maybe milked her last week when the swelling really started to happen, though we see heifers like this occasionally and they generally come in ok. And we try not to fiddle with them until they calve.

The vet explained she was never going to milk. End of story.

I have seen a lot of animal rights activists posts of late telling me that as a farmer I have no reguard for the welfare of my stock and just look at the bottom line. They believe its all about the dollars.

We had two options

1. Treat her with anti inflamitories and hope she survives three weeks making her elidgible for sale to the abbitior which may have covered the vet bill and given us few much needed dollars or

2. Put her down.

We have chosen option 2 as its the humane thing to do.

Due to fire restrictions and other reasons we have chosen to give her to a local who takes cull cows to feed his greyhounds.

I wish the ones who are forever telling me how animal welfare is at the bottom of my list and that I really don’t care for them at all could have been in the yards with me as I held her, said thank you, sorry and goodbye to a heifer I have been nurturing since birth. Too me she’s part of the family.

I’m glad the rest of the herd were in the yard between us and the dairy so hubby didn’t see me blubbering.

6 thoughts on “The Humane Thing To Do

  1. It’s a real slap in the face when ‘animal rights’ campaigners tell farmers how to treat their animals. Do they not realise how farming works? You look after your animals, in turn the bottom line should take care of itself. If the farmer’s not making money he will do without and look after his animals first. Profitable farming leads to better practices in the long run. Such groups are simply against any form of farming involving animals. Farming isn’t that profitable these days and most farmers do it for the love. It’s not overstating to say ‘it’s like a death in the family’. Farmers are not ruthless people. We always blame ourselves and ponder ‘what i could have done to prevent this’. Sometimes you wonder why you even bother. Such incidents impact on all family members, even the little ones. Quite often there is no time for grieving as there is too much work on hand.
    At least you can sleep at night knowing you did your best.


  2. Thanks Paul.
    Luckily for us our kids were away. They did loose a pet cow not that long ago that upset them, all of us really.
    And you are right – we have no trouble sleeping.


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