Do you have an older cow? If so, you may be in the minority. Unfortunately, many cows don’t live as long as they should. However, more and more people are keeping them as pets and companions. Just like any other animal, cows need some extra TLC as they age. A Derby vet discusses senior cow care below.
Cows often develop dental issues over the course of their lives. Lost, broken, or worn teeth can make it hard for Bessie to chew properly. This in turn can cause nutritional imbalances. Watch for signs of dental issues, such as dropping cud and difficulty chewing. It’s also important to have your cow’s teeth examined and, if need be, filed regularly.
Obesity is (literally) a huge issue with our bovine friends. Extra weight can cause a lot of health problems with cows, including heart disease and bone/joint problems. On the other hand, some cows drop weight, often because of the dental issues mentioned above. Older cows also sometimes get bullied by younger ones, and may have a hard time getting a spot at the feed trough. If you have a livestock scale, weigh Bessie regularly.
Some senior cows will benefit from specific supplements or vitamins. If Bessie has dental issues, you may need to offer softer foods, chop her hay, and/or soak grass hay pellets and beet pulp in water. Ask your vet for advice.
A clean, comfy living space is a must. Keep the floor in Bessie’s stall or shed as level as possible, to keep her from tripping. In winter, use pet-safe salt or sand to help provide traction. Your hooved pal may also appreciate having extra bedding, especially if she spends a lot of time laying down.
Older cows have a harder time moving across large pastures than younger ones. You may want to keep Bessie in a separate area, one where she won’t have to manage steep inclines. She should have shelter, food (or pasturage), and water within easy reach at all times. Keep in mind that cows are very sociable, and get quite depressed when isolated from their friends. If you have to separate your older cow from the others, give her another bovine roommate.
As your Derby veterinary clinic, please contact us with any questions about senior cow care. We are here to help!