Spider calf

July 18, 2011

Cows, Rare Cases

This is a rare case and I actually did not see this calf myself. This little calf was born alive with a major abnormality: an extra set of legs attached to his own head! There are a few calves that are born with a variety of such abnormalities but most of them usually die a few days after birth.

In this case, this spider calf was full of go:)

I mean check out the picture below, it clearly reflects his lively spirit!

happy life calf with major deformity

legs on head of a calf

My colleague Tony at Naracoorte and Penola clinic dealt with this case and was kind enough to share the pictures with me at work. I applaud him for his efforts. I also totally connect with the owner of this spider calf who chose not to simply give up on him.

Tony thoroughly assessed the case and discussed all the risks with the owners.

They both agreed that this little guy would be happier without those legs attached to his head.

Calf with legs attached to its head

Tony lifting the attached leg from calf head

They proceeded with a field anaesthetic and surgical resection of the attached legs.
surgical removal of legs from head in calf

The legs removed

calf post surgery

It was success! I am sure mommy cow was relieved to have her cosmetically modified calf suckling from her without also giving a big kick too! Check out the little guy suckling from his mom after his surgery.

cow with her now normal calf

This case is just quite an eye opener. It explicitly shows you that you can never truly be mentally prepared to deal with all cases especially rare deformities. The most important thing is that when you are confronted with it, you do your best to learn from it and put on your best performance. Animals and their owners count on us in those challenging circumstances.

Tony definitely rose up to the occasion in this particular case.

This case reminds me of a few of my very challenging calvings in South Australia. I was pretty unlucky in getting called out a few times in my first year out as a veterinarian to calving dystocias associated with deformed calves. These abnormal calves were referred to as schistosomes: their gastrointestinal tract grew outside their body, their spine was so deformed and all four of their legs were pointing in one direction. They were supposed to be RARE as in my cattle professor/vet had only seen a handful after 40 years of being in practice. I saw maybe 4 in total over my first year out! The most practical and easy way to get them out is via a c-section and that can still be quite a difficult task. Some vets have successfully gotten those calves out via embroytome (cutting up the calf and pulling it out of the cow in pieces). Personally I preferred c-sections. Below is a gruesome picture of one of my schistosomes.

Schistosome 2

Schistosome 1

The great thing about me getting so many rare cases early on in my career is that now nothing can really phase me!

I am ready to tackle any case no matter how quirky or challenging or mind boggling it is… You live and you learn!

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About Rayya

Hi I am Dr. Rayya. I created this site to take you on a journey of my life as a vet! I hope to inspire you, teach you, learn from you. Most importantly help pet owners and animals around the world by sharing pictures, videos and posts from my everyday experiences.

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5 Comments on “Spider calf”

  1. Alana Says:

    thats disgusting!


  2. noha malaeb Says:

    may I send you a photo to “our” wildlife cat which has an abnormal ulcer close to her eye?


    • rayyathevet Says:

      Dear Noha,

      of course you can. please post the picture on my Facebook page. good luck in getting a good photo. Eyes are delicate and so if you have concerns with your cat’s eye, then you should take her to your local vet as soon as possible. If the eye problem has been long standing, then it is worth posting me a picture so I can point you in the right direction. Unfortunatley a picture alone may not suffice for me to give you an accurate diagnosis.


  3. Brody C Says:

    Hi nice reaading your blog


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