When the Horns Come Off
Yeah, I know.
I loved her horns. They were beautiful. They were rustic. They were old fashioned. They made her our, “Trinka.”
BUT – they were causing some trouble.
We said from day one, as long as her horns weren’t a danger to her or us or the other cows – she could keep them.
- She didn’t tear up the fencing with them.
- She didn’t get hung up in the fencing with them.
- She could maneuver in and out of a round feeder without problem
- She was a doll in the milk barn.
- She never acted aggressive toward me or the kids with her horns.
BUT, poor poor Rosie was getting the sharp end of the horns.
Ever since giving birth to her sweet little one, Minnie, Trinka has become a bit more territorial and pushy with our other cows. Pushy is painful when you have 12 inch horns.
This isn’t a problem for Norman any more since he’s hanging in a meat locker “aging” right now.
This is a problem for the cow currently residing in the same pasture with Trink.
Rosie is getting pushed around and Trinka is the boss. I suppose if I had horns like that I’d be the boss too…. and you could call me Maleficent.
Right now, Rosie has 3 gashes in her sides, we thought it was time to put a stop to
Trinka Mrs. Boss.
The horns had to be stopped.
Tennis balls? Stoppers? Sure, until she walks over to the first tree she sees and rubs them off.
We have already explored this topic with our vet, since the horns have been pretty terrifying since day one.
Our vet simply said,
“If we take those off it’s going to be a geyser of blood. It’s going to be really hard on her. It’s going to take a LOOOOONG time to heal. She’s going to be left with big holes in her head. It can’t even be done until fly season is over (winter). She may be afraid of people forever.”
There are other people around here who feel differently than our vet. The man we bought Rosie from said he’d cut them off & think nothing of it. She’d recover. But, some people think cows are cows. We think cows are pets. We LOVE our cows. Not to mention, can you even imagine…..
If we did cut off her horns and it was as bad as Doc said, the next day for milking time – I’m kinda thinking Trinka may have other plans.
“Oh…… you again…… you want me to come in that barn….. the one where you hacked off part of my skull…. uhhhhhh… I don’t think so…. I’ll never do that again.”
So, I don’t want to hurt her or make her afraid of me; however, since Rosie is being impaled regularly, we had to do something.
Since taking the entire horn off is:
- Not possible until winter
- Going to be horrible, painful, bloody, and traumatizing
- Possibly going to make her hate us
We decided to have them “clipped,” This is where you just cut off the points. Seemed like a good compromise. Doc does it all the time.
If you’re worried that Trinka could still be able to do some damage to the other cows with shorter horns, you’re not wrong. We have 2 things going for us.
- Doc used a sander to round them off so they are blunt and don’t have sharp edges – she may be able to “bruise” someone, but she’s no longer a lethal weapon.
- She’s in pain right now. Her horns hurt from the procedure – not only does she not want me touching them, she’s feeling pretty discouraged from ramming them into other cows, or anything else for that matter. Which is a good thing. Maybe just the right medicine to mellow her out.
I know you want to hear all the details!
Believe it or not – it was pretty uneventful…. except for the fact that Doc gave her some medication to, “Relax” her a little and it knocked her out COLD!
AND she wouldn’t wake up.
That. Was. Horrifying.
I was having flashbacks of my cow, Faith, who died in spring over a year ago. She went down with milk fever & looked just like Trinka did. Faith didn’t recover.
While Trinka was being Sleeping Beauty I was dancing around and praying and saying things like, “She’s going to wake up, Right?” “She’s not dying, is she?” “She’s OK, isn’t she?” “When is she going to wake up?”
Let me start from the beginning…
Trinka LOVES me. I am her person. She will follow me to the moon. She comes running at the sound of my voice. She knows her name and thinks I am an angel. I milk her every day. I feed her every day. I brush her, clean her and polish her pretty horns.
Girl and I are tight.
Just have a vet pull into the driveway and let him stand along the fence line. Suddenly, that adoring, cooperative cow will forget her name, who you are and run for the woods.
Note to self: tie up the cow BEFORE the vet arrives.
So, I had to go in the woods with a bucket of feed and get a lead on Trinka. DH
lead dragged her over and tied her to a STRONG fence post so she could pull it out of the ground while we clipped her horns. Just kidding.
The fence post is still intact – but Trinka did her best to relocate it (before the coma).
She was surrounded by 3 men (Vet #1, Vet #2 & DH) and she knew something was about to go down. She, for one, was doing her best to stay out of it.
Once she was secured tightly to a fence post Doc gave her a shot under her tail to “relax” her. In exactly 7 1/2 seconds she was on the ground completely out-of-it.
What did you do to my cow?
The vets got to work fast. They used a wire saw. It looks like a wire with handles on each end. I see this thing on Calling Dr. Pol all the time. Zip-Zip-Zip – the end of the horns were off in seconds.
You think it’s a piece of cake. You think it was nothing. You can’t believe how simple. The cow is in dream land. The horns are clipped, life is good…………….. and then the bloodbath begins.
Squirt-Squirt-Squirt. Out the blood comes. I think a cow’s horn is more like a tooth than an antler. I, of course, have no idea what I am talking about, but just from observing the insides of a blood-gushing horn, I’m gonna say there is a nerve and a root and plenty of life in those things.
As the blood continued to spew forth from the horns I continued to relocate myself farther from the excitement. Our vets used an oldy-but-a-goody method to stop the bleeding that I don’t care to discuss or think about. It involved toothpicks and shoving and horror …. gasp. Quiver. Shutter. Gag. I’m leaving.
Once the bleeding was under control, it was time to get Sleeping Beauty back to her pasture, her calf and her life. It is summer and “hot” is not the word. If we left Trinka to wake up on her own schedule, she would most likely be in full-blown-heat-stroke-mode before the end of her siesta.
Arise, she must.
Apparently, vets can do anything. Just like there’s a tiny shot that will put an 800 pound cow in a coma… There’s also a shot that wakes them up….. in theory.
So, Doc fetched shot #2 and injected it right into her jugular – Yack. And we waited.
The boys hoisted Sleeping Beauty back on to her brisket so she wouldn’t suffocate to death (very, very important that a cow always stays up on her brisket). They tucked her head around the side of her body and she snuggled in like a newborn calf. Not looking like she planned to rejoin the living anytime soon.
Doc said…. and I quote, “Let’s give her a minute to wake up” as he strolled over to his truck. He was back in 3 seconds with an electric cattle prod.
I guess “giving her a minute” is a relative term.
I’m pretty much in panic mode at this point wondering why the wake up shot doesn’t work as well as the sleeping shot and feeling a bit like I’m in trapped in a weird version of “Alice in Wonderland” where Trinka is playing the role of Alice and my vet is Johnny Depp and the potions are defective.
So, as soon as Doc nails Trink with the cattle prod she goes from coma to a full blown sprint.
Doc, standing there with cattle prod in hand calmly says, “Jerseys are lazy. She would’ve laid there all day.”
I led Trinka to the woods far from the danger of heat stroke and cattle prods, where she was reunited her with her small child. There she spent the afternoon resting and recovering.
I’m happy to say that, Trinka is doing fine. She’s eating well & not impaling other cows anymore. She’s a little “stubby” now, but I’m sure she’ll have those beautiful horns sanded, rounded and manicured in no time.
If you are worried about my family drinking milk that contains “sleeping potion”, “waking potion” and morphine – don’t worry…. Doc said the milk was fine for the calf – so I figured it was fine for 100 pound pigs too. So, the pigs are getting all the milk for now. I suppose I should keep an eye on them. 🙂