Warning: Graphic photo of wound* First you’re worried – and then you’re proud
Every time we rescue a different species, there is a huge learning curve for all of us as we learn how to care for that species and get to know the individual(s). This was certainly the case when we got the call that there was a cow that needed our help. We first heard about a blind cow in trouble in early July. She was at double risk: (1) had major health concerns from lack of care of her injuries because she was continually stumbling into things and she struggled to find and compete for food due to her blindness, (2) she was scheduled for slaughter on July 20th. We asked the farmer if she could come to our sanctuary and asked if she could come with a friend from her herd. He agreed, and even drove blind Gracie and baby Peanut to our farm.
We’ve never rescued a cow before, let along a cow with serious injuries, and as Gracie was being unloaded off the trailer we were told she was pregnant. So began Cow 101.
First we began by daily cleaning Gracie’s wounds, and scheduling a vet visit asap. Her most serious wound was on her right side from falling into a well. It had never been treated, and had formed a huge ugly leathery scab that was not allowing the wound to heal.
We had Gracie and Peanut vet checked and got a lot of our cow 101 questions answered. We were told to use iodine to clean the wound and spray with Blue Kote to help to dry it up and keep away the flies. It was an exciting day as Gracie’s ear tags were removed and she is now officially no longer part of the beef industry! Beside’s her wounds, what really stands out on Gracie are some strange random white patches. Our cow vet said that white hair forming on old injuries is very common, so these spots are now reminders of Gracie’s history.
Finally the leathery scab started to fall away
We kept up the daily cleaning, but the wound began to look like something right out of a horror movie and maggots started to make it their home. We did our best to flush the maggots out daily, but they just never stopped. I couldn’t take it any more (imagine how Gracie felt) and called the vet. He said he was pleased with the clean look of the flesh and said that maggots were a fact of life on a farm. The vet actually tweezed out the embedded maggots which was a painful experience for Gracie. Gracie was given a shot of antibiotics and we were told to continue with the daily cleaning – which we did.
We thought there has to be some way to cover the wound so the flies couldn’t lay their eggs? SALI Volunteer Anna went out shopping and came back with the perfect solution – a white netting large enough to drape over Gracie’s back. We soaked it in epsom salts daily to help dry out the wound – and it kept the flies away!
Gracie really struggled with the daily wound treatment and started to shy away if you even looked like you were coming near her right side. But we made sure to spend extra time grooming her so she soon realized there was good with the bad.
The good news now is her wound has almost completely healed and our volunteers and Gracie can finally take a rest from the daily cleaning. That was 60 days of constant diligence, but was so worth it. Oh and along the way we fell in love with this gentle bovine and we’re pretty sure she has forgiven us for all the nasty medical procedures – she now comes running when we call her!
Keryn Denroche, Founder & Chief Bottle Washer