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As Gracie's World Turns....

Gracie is an adult Jersey cow who provides house milk to a family in Louisa county. Recently Gracie gave birth to a little heifer calf! Before she calved Gracie escaped from her pen and got down by the woods. When a cow as big as Gracie gets down....its high drama! Her owners sat her up, delivered her baby, gave her calcium under her skin, and sat with her until the sun came up. Dr. Melinda came to see Gracie and gave her some anti-inflammatories, and lots and lots of Calcium. Jersey cows are very prone to a condition called hypocalcemia (low calcium in the blood). Hypocalcemia is called "milk fever." This usually happens right around the time of calving because the cow has made the skeleton of the calf and the cow is starting to make milk. When a cow like Gracie gets low in calcium she becomes cold in the extremities, her muscle function is impaired, and her rumen becomes slow and stops working. Low calcium can even cause her heart to stop beating if it becomes critically low! Dr. Melinda gave Gracie an IV of calcium so it would work fast and also gave her a great big calcium pill by mouth for a slower release of calcium to keep her from going back down. The IV calcium has to be given very slowly or it can cause death by stopping the heart. After Gracie got her calcium she burped, peed, pooped, and her muscles became shaky and within 10 minutes Gracie was UP!!! Some important things to consider regarding a cow that has just calved that is unable to walk...she could have nerve damage from the calving, her baby calf needs colostrum within hours after birth, and it is important to keep her from hurting herself while she was down. Luckily for Gracie, she has fantastic owners who keep her healthy and safe! And they realize the needs of the young calf. Gracie did get down one other time and Dr. Lesley helped Gracie get up with more calcium. This happens sometimes even when cows are being fed well and have access to a good mineral supplement. Last time Gracie calved she did have some nerve damage in her hip and Dr. Glen the chiropractor came and performed acupuncture on her! Gracie did very well with her acupuncture and was able to stand after her treatment. We tease Gracie about being high maintenance and being a little bit of a drama queen...but it's really only around the time of calving. She is a hardworking, laid back gal 99% of the time and her family loves her!

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