Cow Harness

Cow Harness

Cow Harness

Regular price €399.75
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Industry research suggests that between 1% and 2% of dairy cows lose their ability to stand per annum. Difficult calving and particularly unattended calving alongside metabolic disorders such as milk fever are responsible for a large percentage of downer cows. Physical injuries as a result of slipping on smooth concrete and toxic diseases such as mastitis will also often result in downer cows.
A downer cow is a serious problem from multiple perspectives.
  1. It generally happens at the start of lactation, just when the cow is about to start producing milk and making money for the business. An average valuation for a dairy cow at the start of lactation is about €2,000.
  2. A downer-cow is a time-consuming task, especially in seasonal calving herds as dairy owners are particularly stretched due to the disproportionately high workload at this time.

  3. Modern society is concerned with how animals are treated on farms. Pictures of cows struggling to stand are damaging to the industry. There is a growing expectation that animals get the best treatment possible to give them the best chance of recovery.

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What can be done with a downer cow?

Many dairy owners will say that if a cow cannot stand within 24 hours they are a waste of time and euthanasia is the most humane option. This obviously solves the time consuming problem but is a serious financial loss to the business.

This euthanasia option is increasingly being frowned upon as not giving the downer cow a reasonable chance to recover and is further ammunition for animal welfare activists.

Can downer-cows recover?

Research conducted on dairy farms in Australia involving 218 downer-cows found that the quality of the nursing care had a profound effect on the cow’s chances of recovery. Cows that had received satisfactory nursing recovered in 43% of cases while only 5% of cows receiving unsatisfactory care survived.

​What is good care for a downer-cow?

  1. Get the cow off the concrete. Clean straw on concrete is useless as the cow will very quickly move the straw and be laying on the concrete. Put a generous amount of sand on the floor before bedding the cow or preferably move the cow to where there is a build-up of bedding.

  2. The harness is ideal to move a cow to a field for a few hours during the day, if the weather is ok. The cow should be returned her to a covered pen overnight.

  3. Milk fever should always be considered to be a contributing factor in a downer-cow close to calving or after calving.

  4. Dower-cows because of difficult calving will benefit from treatment with anti-inflammatory medication.

  5. Lift the cow within 24 hours. Everyone has a story of a cow that was down for a long period of time and eventually got up without ever receiving assistance. Occasionally this does happen but as a general rule, more cows will recover if they are lifted with a proper lifting devic

  6. The downer-cow should be lifted for a maximum of 30 minutes per lift, but this can be repeated 4 times per day. Use a harness that can be left on the cow between lifts so that one person can manage the downer-cow alone.

  7. Lift the cow to a height that she can take the weight on to her own feet if she wants.

  8. If the downer-cow is a calved cow, milk her when she is lifted.

  9. Feed a good quality tmr in a raised trough when the cow is lifted, a wheel barrow is ideal. This will help settle the cow.

  10. The majority of cows will stand within 7 days if they are going to stand. I have had customers whose cow stood after 21 days. However, from my experience, if you have given good care and the cow is still down by day 7, her chances of recovery are small.

  11. Recovering cows should be fitted with a pair of shackles. Leave the cow in the pen for at least 24 hours with the shackles before asking her to walk anywhere.


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