Can we talk about how cute this calf is? Just for a second though because we’ve got to get down to business here. But first, make sure you notice she’s got white eyelashes!
Besides her eyelashes, you may also notice some duct tape around the lower half of her front leg. Let’s discuss that. This little heifer was born with what you call “contracted tendons”. The result of this is the calf being unable to properly extend its leg(s).
Calves born with this issue can range from mild to severe. Mild meaning they will walk on their toes instead of the bottom of their hooves and it will take a little time for them to straighten out. Severe mean them only being able to walk on their knees or possibly not walk at all. This heifer had one very mild front leg and the other was moderately contracted. There are three things that can help the healing process with contacted tendons: time, a splint, and medicine. We chose to use time and a splint. What you see in the pictures is a splint of sorts very similar to one that you would get if you sprained an ankle. Splinting a leg on a calf is something that needs to be done very carefully. It is important to use some sort of thick, soft padding (in our case we used sheep skin) in order to protect the leg. After the leg was wrapped in sheep skin, a small piece of PVC pipe was cut it in half (lengthwise). The PVC pipe was put over the sheep skin and then duct tape was used to secure the splint and hold everything in place. After 3 days of carrying on with this very stylish splint, this heifer’s leg was all but straight. We have since pulled the splint off and put her and her mother in a much larger pen. As soon as we see that she has a 100% clean bill of health this pair will be turned back out with the rest of the cows.