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Repairing broken legs in calves

It can be truly disheartening when checking calves to find one with a broken leg. Preparation in advance for this possibility will improve your chances of saving the calf. Here are some steps to follow:

Immediately remove the calf from its mother and other pen mates. Confine the calf to a small pen where it is protected from injury by the other cattle and prepare to protect the fracture site.

It’s not enough to simply isolate the calf; you also need to restrain it in some way. Do not allow it to walk on the leg or flop the fractured leg around violently. Hog tying is an excellent way to restrain the calf and protect the injured leg.

Do not delay seeking veterinary assistance. Early intervention is always more successful with fractures.

Applying a temporary splint can be an excellent way to protect the fracture site. To begin, gently realign the leg to as near normal a position as possible. Then wrap the leg with a heavy layer of padding: thick towels or strips of blanket work well. Finally, attach the splint tightly with numerous wraps of tape.

Two pieces of hockey stick can make a good splint, as can PVC drain pipe split lengthwise. The splint must be of adequate length, meaning it must extend at least six inches below and six inches above the fracture site.

A cast is often preferred for fixing fractures in calves. For this you should call on your veterinarian. Likewise, if it’s decided to apply a long-term splint to treat the fracture, the application of such a device is best left to the professional. Splints that are incorrectly applied and left on for more than a short time can be very damaging to the leg.

Do not assume that fractures up near the hip can not be fixed. Talk to your veterinarian about special splinting and casting methods that can help these fractures heal.

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