Osteopathy with bovine animals
Interview: Peggy de Kraa, Equine Osteopath EDO® and Canine Osteopath CDO®
Peggy de Kraa graduated at the Vluggen Institute, after which she became a registered Equine Osteopath EDO® in 2015. In 2017, she also became a registered Canine Osteopath CDO®. During the WAEO Conference 2023, held in Waldfeucht at the Vluggen Institute, we asked her to share some of her experiences on working with bovine animals.
Peggy had a successful practice in The Netherlands (Second Chance Equine Osteopathy), but decided to move to Jämtland, Sweden in 2020. After a year she had submitted all the required paperwork to start her life and work there.
Peggy soon discovered there were no equine or canine osteopaths in Jämtland, apart from herself – only several veterinarians who do chiropractic treatments. That meant she was the only osteopath in the region and needed to introduce the profession on her own. Within a year, she had successfully expanded her clientele enough for her to run her business fulltime.
How or why did you start treating cows?
‘The first time someone asked me was in 2021. I had just finished treating the horses of one of my clients, when they asked me: “Do you also treat cows?”. I told them I didn’t… yet. But I sure wanted to give it a go. Why not try something new when given the chance?
‘The farm was a dairy farm run by a family. They have about 400 cows from several breeds: Holstein, Swedish Red, Swedish Polled and Jersey.’
What are some of the most common complaints the owners tell you?
‘The most common complaints I get include lameness in one of the hind legs, fertility problems, calves thatdon’t grow as they should or a cow that doesn’t want to or can’t get up. My favourite ‘complaint’ I hear from the owner would have to be: “Yeah. She has some funny fur…”.
‘Since we use cows differently to horses, the owners also notice things in a different way (or perhaps not at all, since we don’t usually ride cows). However, the osteopathic principles remain the same on every living being.’
What are some of the most common disorders you find on a cow?
‘I find the lameness usually originates from a disorder in the SI-joint and the lumbar spine. I treat these disorders in the same way I would on a horse and the result is almost instant. Things become a little bit harder if there is a disorder in the menisci, but I still try to do my best.
‘When I’m presented with a calf that doesn’t grow properly, I usually find a disorder in C0-C1. Whenever I treat these disorders, the results show within a couple of weeks. It’s a very gratifying job.
‘I also find and treat a lot of disorders of the diaphragm. This is actually quite difficult to do on a cow, but I often use a listening technique and this seems to do the job.
‘Treating the neck of a cow can also be a challenge. However, with a little bit of help of the owner, I can also manage to release any disorders here too. You must be resourceful and keep an open mind to find the right way to do things.
‘The osteopathic disorders I find are the same as on a horse and I can apply the osteopathic principles just as easily. Osteopathy is a profession that is easily translated to any living being.
‘Of course, picking up a leg can be more of a challenge on a cow than on a horse. I work a lot more with the owner and together we can manage very well. Treating the cow is like treating the horse, you just have to be a little more resourceful.
‘The other day, the owner told me that their vet bill has decreased by half this past year compared to what it used to be the year before. Not only that, by treating these animals we have been able to save numerous cows from the slaughterhouse and a lot more calves have been born.
‘Things like that still amaze me and I’m so proud to have achieved these results. There is still a lot to be done for these animals and I would love some help from my fellow Equine Osteopaths EDO® and Canine Osteopaths CDO®.
‘Unfortunately, I can find little to no bovine anatomy books (besides Budras). I would love to get some good tips so that I can improve my knowledge and treatments. I haven’t heard from other Equine Osteopaths EDO® who treat cows, but I would very much like to hear from them to exchange experiences, advice or knowledge.’