By Connor Lynch
PERTH — If you’re thinking of lifting a cow out of a tight spot by its neck, don’t, unless there are no options, urges a well-known Ontario veterinarian.
According to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), an investigation last November revealed that a cow had been lifted by its halter with a skid steer after it was found not eating or chewing its cud and lying on its side.
Perth dairy farmer Ton Van Gorp was fined $2,260 last month for causing an animal to be in distress and for failing to provide for the general welfare of cattle. OSPCA officers also reported finding cows with inadequate bedding, difficulty walking, sores and lesions on hips, necks and legs, swelling in the legs, and appeared too large for their stalls.
Lifting a cow by its neck is almost never necessary, and certainly shouldn’t be the first choice if it’s gotten stuck, said Boehringer-Ingelheim veterinarian Rob Tremblay, based near Guelph.
As a rule, a trapped cow should be pulled. Put a strap around its chest to pull it back, not lifted up by a limb or the head, he said. If possible, pull the cow out onto a flat surface, so that the strap doesn’t end up lifting the cow up. If the cow is stuck and pulling her out isn’t an option, lifting can be. But don’t lift by the head or neck unless you’re forced to. Getting straps under the chest and abdomen is a lot safer. “Do that before you wrap something around her neck,” Tremblay said.
A worst case scenario is when the cow isn’t coming out any other way and you have to lift it out. Before lifting by the halter or neck, don’t use chains, or rope, or anything that will tighten when her weight hauls on it, he said. You don’t want the moving of a cow to take any longer than necessary, but don’t make any quick movements either.
Farmers need to know that the public is in the barn. Attitudes about animals have changed, and even errors in judgement can lead to headaches, even fines.