REMARKABLE PATIENT: A three-week-old, six-legged calf walked through the doors of the Toowoomba Veterinary Hospital this week for surgery to amputate the extra limbs.
REMARKABLE PATIENT: A three-week-old, six-legged calf walked through the doors of the Toowoomba Veterinary Hospital this week for surgery to amputate the extra limbs.

Cow born with six legs undergoes unique amputation

The team at Toowoomba Veterinary Hospital were left completely stumped by a special little patient who walked through their doors this week.

Three-week-old calf Alfie was born a happy, healthy, strong little calf, except for one thing.

He was born with two extra legs growing right out of his spine.

Associate veterinarian Jacqueline Taylor said Alfie's condition was one of the most perplexing cases she had seen in her career.

 

Molly O'Connell and Jacqueline Taylor with Alfie the six-legged calf.
Molly O'Connell and Jacqueline Taylor with Alfie the six-legged calf.

 

"I've seen other congenital abnormalities but not this particular one," she said.

Alfie was submitted for surgery this week to amputate the legs.

Having only seen photos of the calf prior to his trip to the veterinary hospital, Dr Taylor and her team had to assess his condition on the spot, before sedating him under full anaesthetic, and setting off to work.

"These ones had very solid bony attachments to the spine," Dr Taylor said.

"So we had to amputate through bone as we didn't want to go anywhere near the spine."

Alfie was returned home back to his paddock that afternoon, legs gone but two little stumps in their place.

Vet nurse Molly O'Connell said the general recovery time for a surgery of this kind was quite quick.

 

 

"The riskiest part is while he's under anaesthesia," she said.

"They recover quite quickly.

"He was home that afternoon, and feeding off mum and being a happy little calf again."

Dr Taylor said there were several theories about how this genetic abnormality, called polymelia, can occur, but it seemed as though little Alfie's condition was one of a kind.

"These cases normally go quite well with surgery," she said.

"As to why they occur there hasn't been a whole lot of research because it is so rare.

"One theory is that it's a merging of twins in the embryo.

"Some of them actually have two sets of DNA."

 

REMARKABLE PATIENT: A three-week-old , six-legged calf walked through the doors of the Toowoomba Veterinary Hospital this week for surgery to amputate the extra limbs.
REMARKABLE PATIENT: A three-week-old , six-legged calf walked through the doors of the Toowoomba Veterinary Hospital this week for surgery to amputate the extra limbs.

 

Alfie is now living life back on his property as a normal little calf.

"He was very happy, healthy, strong - he was a very normal little calf just with a few extra bits," Miss O'Connell.

Originally published as Cow born with six legs undergoes unique amputation


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