Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand worthless words.

What is a hip lift or hip lock?

I see photos all over that are taken out of context. From animal rights activists making something out of nothing to politicians trying to make you believe what they want you to believe. If you saw this photo, what would you think is going on?

Hip Lock or Hip Lift

This cow is being held up by a hip lift AKA hip lock

Do you see a cow being abused? Something you’re not certain of but don’t like?ย  Maybe a photo that could be used against a farmer? What do you think this photo is showing? There is no caption to tell you what to think. The only way to understand this photo is to either know what is happening from experience or to look at what the comments on the photo have to say.

We use a hip lift/ hip lock to help our cows.

This cow is injured. She was in labor and her calf got stuck. I usually check cows in the middle of the night when I think someone is going to calve. She didn’t give me any signs she was going to calve that night so I went to bed. In the morning we found her laying on her side. Her calf was still stuck and it was dead. She was beat up and tired and I felt horrible. We helped her deliver the calf the rest of the way and we did what we could to make her better.

After doing everything we could to help her she still was unable to get up. A cow that can’t get up will loose circulation to her legs and it will go down hill from there. When a cow suffers from calving paralysis, which is what it’s called when a calf puts pressure on the nerve that runs through the hips and down the leg and causes the cow to not be able to get up, it’s never a good thing. Our best option at the time was to try and gently lift her so that her legs could regain circulation.

How do you lift a cow?

It’s not easy to lift a cow! A band around her middle isn’t really an option, her udder is in the way and her front half is much heavier than her back half. The float tank to lift the whole cow works sometimes but it takes time for the tank to get there and for the cow to get set up in it. ย The longer she sits, the more swelling and problems have time to set in. The fastest option is to try and carefully lift her using a device called a hip lift.

Hip Lock or Hip Lift

This is what the hip lift looks like. As you can see in this photo the lift is designed to go around the cows hip bones. The loop that goes around the cow’s hip bones are padded to try and make it more comfortable.

Hip Lock or Hip Lift

Here is the view from behind. You can see how the lift sits on the cows hips to support her weight.

How does a hip lift/hip lock work?

Once the hip lift is on the cow we use a skid loader to lift her weight. Remember a Holstein cow weighs 1200-2000lbs. We will hold her up for 20-30 minutes allowing her to try and put weight on her leg while being supported by the hip lift and skidloader. We will also make sure that we give her an anti inflammatory before we start this to help with the swelling that can be pinching the nerve and to help with any pain she might be in.

After 20-30 minutes will will lower the skidloader boom and allow her to either stand if she wants or lay back down. Then we will give her some time, a few hours usually and ask her to get up again on her own. If she still can’t do it we will lift her again with the hip lifts and repeat this process until she can do it on her own. We are very careful to be calm and gentle with any injured cow.

So a picture can be worth a thousand words. Please take the time to make sure the words with the photo aren’t worthless.

28 Comments on Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand worthless words.

  1. Sandra S.
    September 10, 2012 at 8:41 am (7 years ago)

    It looked like you were giving her a massage. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Jennifer
    September 10, 2012 at 8:53 am (7 years ago)

    Sorry to hear of your loss ๐Ÿ™ Thanks for sharing information on such a hard topic.

  3. Caryl Velisek
    September 10, 2012 at 11:01 am (7 years ago)

    Pictures are worth a thousand words. When my husband was managing a feedlot near Baltimore some years ago, some PETA people broke into the small slaughter house we often sent cattle to, on a weekend when no one was around, and actually faked photos of animals being mistreated and gave them to the newspapers.

  4. Steph
    September 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm (7 years ago)

    Been through this ourselves a time or two. I pray that she has a quick and full recovery! One of the things I don’t like waking up to in the morning! There are some times when I think that I should just sleep out there and watch them ALL night long! Thankfully majority of calvings happen all by themselves. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good Luck working on her!

  5. Barnyard Barbie
    September 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm (7 years ago)

    Love the LOVE you have for your animals!

  6. homeontherangeks
    September 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm (7 years ago)

    Very well said, Carrie. Thank you for sharing this story.

  7. Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON
    September 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm (7 years ago)

    My first time on a dairy farm I saw them working through this…. even though I have those photos that are a thousand words plus (I loved getting a text next day saying she was fine), I didn’t know how to write it out. Thanks for putting words to the experience I saw. maybe I can borrow some of your info and finally get my own post written. Thanks for all you do.

    • dairycarrie
      September 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm (7 years ago)

      Let me know if you need more info, I would be glad to help you get that post done!

  8. Bryan Quanbury
    September 11, 2012 at 4:56 am (7 years ago)

    Great one Carrie, Your words put pictures into perspective.

  9. Carrie
    September 12, 2012 at 9:15 am (7 years ago)

    Great article!!!! How is the cow doing?

    • dairycarrie
      September 12, 2012 at 9:17 am (7 years ago)

      She was eventually able to stand and move around but she wasn’t ever going to be stable in that leg and we had to sell her.

  10. Becca
    September 12, 2012 at 9:25 am (7 years ago)

    Also noteworthy is how calm she and her herdmates seem to be.

    • dairycarrie
      September 12, 2012 at 9:32 am (7 years ago)

      We are calm around our cows and they are usually calm as well or at least quick to settle back down. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. cele
    September 12, 2012 at 11:54 am (7 years ago)

    Tremendous job – I shared on my facebook page !
    these are a great tool we have used numerous times on our farm – with the use of this many cows will eventually stand on their own perhaps after a difficult birth or even injury from a bull mounting them improperly during breeding time – this gives them the “jumpstart” they need to get up and get going – of course there are times when things dont turn out as you wish however appreciative of this tool on our farm ! Keep up the great work !!!

    • celeste settrini (@couturecowgirl7)
      September 12, 2012 at 11:56 am (7 years ago)

      Goodness – typing way too fast today but my post should be listed from celeste settrini – thanks – not cele or should or whatever crazy stuff is posted ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks

      • dairycarrie
        September 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm (7 years ago)

        Ha! I am guilty of too fast fingers myself sometime… or really more often than not! Thanks for the comment Celeste!

  12. Jenny Schweigert
    September 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm (7 years ago)

    Love it! YOU are awesome whole heartedly agree with Barnyard Barbie’s statement!

  13. Rob
    September 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm (7 years ago)

    Excellent. Had a few down myself in my time. (Beef cattle) Unfortuntely Didnt have a lift Had to get the vet with his injection. Manually turn the cow over every half hour. Keep her propped up. Generally they recovered but very labor intensive. Still they have to have a chance

  14. Farming America
    September 12, 2012 at 5:21 pm (7 years ago)

    Great Post and perspective Carrie! Keep up the good work!

  15. iridescentsheep
    September 15, 2012 at 11:40 am (7 years ago)

    Great article!!!! My Aunt told me that she saw a video at a confrence and they were trying to say this trap was inhumane because the wolf was growling and acting out. Then she realized that someone of camera was obviously trying to agitate the wolf to get the scene they wanted.

  16. sandy
    April 8, 2013 at 10:05 am (7 years ago)

    How did she make out? You are lucky she supported the front end, it always looks horrible when there is no cow support and they just hang there.

    • dairycarrie
      April 8, 2013 at 10:17 am (7 years ago)

      The cow we used the hip lift on this weekend is up and doing just fine. The original cow in this post had to be sold.

  17. Lorna
    July 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm (6 years ago)

    It’s tough when that happens isn’t it especially when you beat yourself up for a while for not checking during the night – been there and done that but we can’t be everywhere and we need sleep. Sorry to hear she had to be sold but you did what you could

  18. matt
    August 7, 2014 at 4:48 pm (5 years ago)

    some people just don’t understand when cows go down you can’t lift them up without machinery or come along.

  19. Wendy
    November 2, 2016 at 4:48 pm (3 years ago)

    I’ve seen this done before. It’s amazing how quick people are to say you’re wrong when they have no idea what is going on in the photo.