Hardware Disease: Goodbye Tonka

Tonka Grand ChampionConnie’s favorite cow, Tonka, died last week. She was a favorite because Ethan showed her at the Santa Barbara County Fair in 2011 and she was the Grand Champion Heifer that year. Adele, this year’s Reserve Champion was out of her. Ethan still proudly wears the Grand Champion buckle he received.

IMG_2002Recently, Tonka was acting strange and losing weight. So she was brought down from the hills and put in a pen for observation. There were signs of something as a lump under her jaw had developed. She was checked for woody tongue but that was not it. Her brisket started to enlarge which indicated “Hardware Disease”. A “Bounty Hunter” metal detector was used to determine if there was any metal in her.

Cattle are not discriminant eaters and frequently swallow bits of metal and nails and parts of fencing as they graze the hillside. These metal pieces accumulate in a chamber of the stomach called the reticulum which is also near the heart. The metal pieces can puncture through and impact the heart or cause infection throughout the body. Yes indeed the “Bounty Hunter” lit up which meant that she had metal in her. The detector also saved time during the autopsy as it showed where the metal was. Metal pieces had settled in several places in her body and one had caused an abscess.

Tonka had a magnet placed in her several years ago to help prevent this disease by attracting the metal pieces all in one place. However her magnet stopped working as a coating grew on it and it no longer held or attracted metal pieces. Above is a pic of the magnet that was pulled out of her body. Note several metal pieces that stayed attached to it.

FullSizeRender(1)When a cow dies what happens to the body? There are several options. One, is to call the Tallow works and they come out and pick up the animal. Two, is dig a big hole and bury the animal. Three, leave it out in the hills and let the buzzards, bears and bugs do a fast job of making the carcass disappear.

Goodbye Tonka. Thank you for leaving your legacy with Grieb Ranch.

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