In our September social media updates, an update was given with regards to the Purple Rain sable herds that had started calving. At that stage we had 15 new calves born, but to date the number has increased to 19 new calves within the three different sable herds.
Unfortunately, one of the adult females had (what we thought) abandoned her calf and we had to jump in and try and rescue the little heifer. We did not remove the heifer calf from the breeding camp in the hope that her mother might take over the nursing duties. The calf was fed three times a day, every day and feeding took place with no problem or resistance at all. It was however evident that the mother did not neglect the calf completely as the calf was definitely groomed and the female continued to produce milk and had a large udder, but somehow the calf did not grow at the same rate as the rest of the calves in the herds that were of a similar age.
The heifer calf was also never with the herd, but always found completely on her own. After the first week of feeding the little calf, it was evident that the animal had a problem with her right back leg/hip as she did not place any weight on this leg and it almost seemed that the muscle of the leg started disintegrating. Dr Louis Greeff, from Medivet clinic, was called out to come and look at the calf and suggest the route forward. He suggested that the calf be taken to the clinic for x-rays to determine the exact cause and the extent of the injury before any other decisions could be made.
As can be seen in the x-ray below, it seemed that the head of the femur had a fracture and was almost completely disintegrated.
This could be due to a few causes:
Legg calve perthes, which is a disease well described in dogs – This occurs due to poor blood supply to the femur, which causes necrosis (death) of bone cells and subsequent fracture due to weakness (Apparently incredibly painful);
Other possibilities include joint infection, due to an earlier contamination and infection of the umbilical stump (navel), with the bacteria travelling to joint spaces via the liver.
Genetic poor conformation, similar to hip dysplasia (poor connection between head of femur and hip joint) is also a possible cause.
Unfortunately, without doing a hip replacement there was no cure for the heifer calf. The fact that she was still so small meant that even if we attempted a hip replacement and it was successful, this procedure would have had to be repeated when the animal was older due to the fact that she still had to grow so much and when maturity was reached another hip replacement would be necessary. We decided against these procedures as there was no guarantee that the animal would ever be without the excessive pain that it was currently in.