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by Dr John Anstee, Deniliquin Veterinary Clinic, NSW
We’re a mixed practice with our outside work concentrated on beef production and some dairy. The Magrath stomach pump is a safe, effective way to administer fluids and medication to cattle. We have a couple of pumps at the practice, so we routinely take them on farm visits.
What’s good about it
The pump has a long metal tube that’s passed down the oesophagus and goes into the initial part of the stomach. It’s used to pump in heavy or light fluids but it also relieves the discomfort of bloat.
The metal tube is relatively rigid with a ball shape at the end of it. This allows you to feel it through the neck of the cow and to successfully guide it down the oesophagus with minimal trauma. Even though the metal tube is rigid, there’s a bit of flex in it so it’s pretty difficult for it to go the wrong way.
A rubber pipe attaches the metal tube to the pumping mechanism. It can administer a large amount of fluid in a short amount of time. I use it daily whether it’s a cow that needs emergency rehydration or a cow that needs electrolytes and calcium after a difficult birth. Rather than relying on only intravenous fluids, it allows for the normal absorption of fluids.
There’s also a nose clip that secures it to the animal. This allows you to step away and operate the pump safely.
What’s not so good
Safety is the most important consideration during the use of this system. When you initially pass the tube down the oesophagus, you need to consider the environment in which the cow is placed. If they’re in a crush, they need a good neck restraint. If the cow’s down in a paddock, you need to have a safe way to handle the head of the cow. The pump must be operated in a way that is safe for the cow and the vet.