Freaky stuff!
October 2023

We are at the end of my favourite period of the year - ‘the calving season’. Compared to last year, the season was relatively slow with less difficulties. But I did run into a few “odd” calvings.

While on a routine farm visit, the farmer asked if I could check a heifer as she is not in calf but “there is something hanging out.”
After an inspection, there seemed to be something stuck in the vaginal area making it impossible to get my hand in. The Rectal exam gave me even more question marks because I could feel the mass before the cervix with a small little uterus behind it. I decided to push it out with my hand in the rectum, and out came a dinosaur looking creature. A mummified calf that looked like apterodactyl. The heifer was never sick, and she was even cycling.

Mummification of a foetus can happen in certain circumstances. If the foetus dies in the womb during late pregnancy and the conditions of the reproductive tract prevent adequate decomposition and fluid drainage. As a result, the foetal tissues gradually dehydrate and mummify. It is considered to be a rare event.





At another calving where I had students with me, after a quick check, I knew something strange was going on. I felt a big balloon with loose bones and a sort of socket with some tissue sticking out.  I found some ears on the big mass and teeth. So I knew it must be a head. We then decided to cut it out which was a good training exercise for the students with handling the fetotome and the use of wire.

Unfortunately, the head shown in the picture below does not depict how big it actually was, the fluid drained as soon as it came out. The eyes were out of the eye sockets, and loose skull bones were floating in the skin.

Hydrocephalusis a rare condition characterised by abnormal accumulation of cerebro spinal fluids within the brain. There are various causes and risk factors, some may be congenital, an infection or exposure to toxins during pregnancy, and nutritional imbalances could also contribute.

Although cases like these are unfortunate for both the farmer and the cow, they do make our job more interesting.  All the best to you all!