The sense of relief watching an animal take their first steps at Head Over Hooves, knowing they’ve arrived safely, is immense. The time leading up to rescue and re-location, often with a ‘deadly’ deadline to meet, can be intense. You can watch Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi make their first tentative steps below.
Luke and Obi spent their first 14 days in our quarantine paddock. Luckily for these boys, the first part of our quarantine protocol is to collect a fresh faecal sample and rush it to our vets to check for intestinal parasites. This is done to correctly identify the internal parasites, instead of guessing and drenching with a broad-spectrum wormer.
Their test came back positive for coccidia, which causes bloody stools and weight loss - and if left untreated can be fatal. Armed with 300 ml of a coccidiosis treatment prescribed from our vet we headed home to give the boys the bad news - they had bugs in their bellies and needed to have a large quantity of not so nice medicine.
Over the next 48 hours Luke was obviously feeling off colour - a normal side effect post drenching if animals have a parasite burden. He was still eating and drinking well, so we weren’t worried, despite the fact that due to the coccidia he was passing bloody stools. By day 3 post drenching, both boys were looking good as gold.
We were excitedly counting down the days that we could introduce them to our two younger calves Frasier and Niles who had been noisily calling out to their new buddies from a nearby paddock! A follow up faecal test returned a negative result for coccidia and other internal parasites. 😊 We were relieved, and they were ready to meet Frasier and Niles.
Armed with a bucket of Luke and Obi’s favourite food to ‘incentivise’ them to move paddocks, we were ready for action – until we caught sight of Luke, and our hearts sank. Luke was standing at the gate, unable to put any weight on his front right leg. From the way he was moving we thought he had either dislocated or broken his leg.
We called our vet but they were hours away from being able to make a house call. With a lot of gentle encouragement we managed to get Luke to slowly hop to our holding yards, where we set up a shade sail to keep him cool and set up food and water around him.
The next few hours felt like an eternity, Obi paced up and down the yard calling out to Luke who was looking worse and worse. Once in the yard, Luke just lay down, his face flat on the ground, and did not move. We held our breath and feared the worst.
After the longest four hours, our vet arrived. Luke’s temperature was skyrocketing, he had decreased gut sounds, was lethargic, had no appetite and was still unable to weight bear. We nervously waited for the diagnosis and after a tense 20 minutes, we got it: “He’s got Three Day Sickness.”
”Three Day Sickness” also known as “Bovine Ephemeral Fever” is a viral disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes and midges. Due to recent heavy rain, cows all over the area had been coming down with it, apparently. Symptoms are similar to us developing the flu – the animal experiences terrible joint pain, fever, depression, weight loss, loss of appetite and lethargy. Basically, Luke had an extreme case of man flu!
Luke was prescribed a quiet 72 hours in a flat paddock to avoid him falling, a long-lasting anti-inflammatory injection for his pain and to bring his temperature down, and antibiotics to be safe. Within an hour of the injections he was moving and starting to eat.
We monitored him closely over the next 72 hours, offering him all his favourite foods, and were astounded at how fast he improved, by day three it was like nothing had happened!
By day four, Luke was back to his fabulous self and it was time to meet his new best friends, Frasier and Niles. The introduction couldn’t have gone better. You can watch it below.
Once a upon a time these four boys were considered a waste product of the dairy industry, now they are enjoying their friendships, jumping for joy at dinner time, spending hours grooming each other and they are trusting, accepting, gentle and affectionate. We can learn a lot from them in these challenging times!
Together we can continue make a difference to the lives of animals like Luke and Obi. All donations to Head Over Hooves go directly to animal care. All help is gratefully received. Donations over $2 are tax deductible.