Dairy cattle can become non-ambulatory for different reasons.
According to the Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA) manual, every effort should be made to provide humane handling and proper care of disabled or downer cattle.
Animals that are likely to recover should be moved to an area with adequate bedding, access to feed and water and without risk of trampling by other animals. They also should be given appropriate shelter from direct sunlight and inclement weather.
Cattle that cannot stand and walk on their own and those that resist rising, must not be sent to a livestock market or beef-processing facility. Cattle that have been injured, subsequent to a fall or other event, and animals that exhibit pain when walking fall into this category. Provide care and give them time to recover. If the prognosis is unfavorable, or the animal has not responded to veterinary care, it should be humanely euthanized.
Giving extra attention to non-ambulatory cattle shows that you support animal-wellbeing practices. This is instrumental in retaining consumer confidence in dairy and beef products.
DACQA is a voluntary, national certification program intended to enhance and demonstrate quality animal care practices, which assure food safety, quality and value as well as enhance consumer confidence in the milk and beef products that are harvested from cattle on America’s dairy farms.
For additional information on handling and supportive care, refer to Dairy Calf & Heifer Association’s Gold Standards III, animal welfare standards for rearing calves and heifers, from birth to freshening, across the United States.