Vet on Call: Beware, that beloved dairy cow could kill you

It took me a few moments to understand Joyce’s issue as I calmed her down. It turned out her lovely Ayrshire-Zebu cross dairy cow had just attacked and left her with a thigh injury. The injury was caused by the protruding apex of the cow’s skull, since the animal had been dehorned.

She said the cow had butted her twice with the head after milking and proceeded to eat as though there had been no problem. There was no salivation and milk production for the evening was normal.

From the explanation, I advised the farmer to seek treatment for the injury but the cow appeared to have just been agitated by something I could not tell from the phone report. I further told Joyce and her workers to treat the animal with care to avoid injuries.

There have been media reports of people attacked or killed by farm animals. A YouTube clip of a ram chasing and knocking people down in a Brazilian town made headlines five years ago and many viewers found it hilarious based on how widely it was circulated. Unfortunately, it was evident that the victims of the ram bore the attack with pain, embarrassment and possibly serious injury.

Animal scientists and animal welfare advocates have realised that although farm animals do not talk in a language that human beings understand, they have their emotions that must at all times be kept as pleasant as possible, even in the final stages of their lives when they are slaughtered to feed humans.

I came to learn later that Joyce was attacked by her cow because the animal had recently calved. Her worker had been allowing the calf to suckle but on the fateful day, Joyce decided the calf would stop suckling and be fed milk from a bucket.

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