Yesterday morning, the new intern Justin and I were feeding the cows and I noticed that despite the relatively cool weather, that #9 was drooling a bit and had labored breathing. She didn’t show any distention or swelling so I mentioned it to Justin and we kept on about our day. I told him we’d check her again in a few hours. After knocking out some more work we came back with more food from our first run to the market and found that she was drooling more and now had a swollen rumen. We quickly strung a corral to the barn and walked her up there with nary a problem. This was important because it was Justin’s first full day as an intern and while he wants to make a good impression, so does his boss. Who wants to intern with an idiot who can’t get a cow to the barn? Then we tried to maneuver her into the head gate corral and that’s when it hit me, she’s had bloat before. I remembered because as soon as she got near the entrance she took off like she knew what was coming. I tried to reason with her and tell her that I was much better at treating cows now but she’d hear none of it. So much for the not looking like an idiot thing.
So we took some of the vehicles and made a funnel wall out of various vehicles so that she had no choice but to go into the corral and that worked perfectly. Once in the head gate, I demonstrated to Justin how we treat for bloat. I’m not sure he knew home surgery was part of being an intern but it is if you work with ninjas. A quick shave and a thorough cleaning and we put in a 12 gauge needle in to relieve some of the pressure. Then because I remembered how much it took to get her cleared last time, I went straight for the trocar. Out came the needle and multiple shots of Lidocain to numb the skin were given. Then I made an incision about 1.5 inches long, being careful not to cut to the rumen itself. I inserted the trocar and phew all kind of gas came rushing out. It was like letting the air out of a balloon. At that point her belly quickly returned to normal and her breathing slowed down. We unfortunately had to take a few laps of the barnyard to get her into a stall and under a fan as she remembered being in the barn as well and wasn’t too excited about being sequestered from the herd. She has plenty of fresh water and a bucket of sweet corn husks which are pretty high in fiber. She’ll stay in the barn for a few days to make sure that she’s ok. Then we’ll pull the trocar and put her back with all her friends.
This is the second time she’s had bloat. She was already on the list of cows leaving the farm but now her departure will be expedited.