In a burst of enthusiasm last weekend, I was clearing our overgrown front yard and ended up with a big pile of leguminous creeper. I thought our cows would enjoy the treat and piled it up for their evening snack. One particular cow cornered most of the feed and feasted on it. Lady went for the evening round of milking and one cow couldn't get up. Her suffering was obvious and breathing was laboured. Quick reference to our animal care book by Sushie told us that she was suffering from 'Bloat' (or 'gas') caused by overeating leguminous plants. The gas that is produced very rapidly cannot escape from inside and the pressure starts building up until the cow explodes and you have to wipe off bits of cow from all around the cowshed. I made up that last part.... they die because of the extreme distress. Happens very quickly before help can be reached. Sometimes, vets have to puncture the side of the cow to release the gas before it kills them. Couldn't get any vet on a Saturday night, to trudge out 16Km from town. After some hectic phone consultation with one, we force fed her Oil of Turpentine and some Baking soda and vigorously massaged her swollen abdomen. At one point, her eyes were glazing over and she put her head on the floor. Seemed like she was slipping away, since death sometimes happens very quickly. After a while, she seemed a little better and was able to stagger to her feet with a lot of coaxing and prodding from all of us. The good book also told us to try and keep her on her feet and walk her around, to ease the distress. So we led her out of the cowshed and tried to walk her around. She staggered around for a while very reluctantly and we let the calf drink all the milk (unmilked cows can also be in some distress because of the pressure in the udders). Got her back into the cowshed and she seemed in slightly better shape. She survived the ordeal and is still alive, though a bit weak and off-colour.

Lesson learnt: Overfeeding a cow with a leguminous plant is a sure way to kill them ;)

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