Calf has two old legs and two new legs Kitty Martin, below, snuggles Hero after he was fitted with new prosthetic legs
Calf has two old legs and two new legs
Lexile

The 600-pound English Charolais calf was hot and tired. It had traveled three hours inside a trailer behind a pickup truck.

The calf was content to lie on the grass behind a building. A team of technicians worked on its hind legs.

When the calf known as Hero heard its name called, the 15-month-old gingerly got up. Unsteadily, it waddled away. It headed across a patch of concrete toward an snack of green shrubbery.

Hero became what may be the nation's only double-amputee calf with prosthetics. It was fitted for a new pair of high-tech devices attached to its back legs.

"I'm so proud," Hero's caretaker, Kitty Martin, exclaimed. "Look at you!"

It's the latest step in an effort that has taken Martin and the animal from Virginia. That's where she rescued it last year from an Augusta County farm where it succumbed to frostbite that claimed its hooves, to Texas. Animal surgeons at Texas A&M University treated Hero for several months and affixed the initial prosthetics that the calf now had outgrown.

Erin O'Brien is an orthotist and prosthetist for Hanger Inc., a firm that makes prosthetic limbs. She was among a team of about eight people working on the project for about two weeks.

"We did a lot of study of photos and video of cows just regular walking to see what it looks like and see if we can mimic that biomechanically," O'Brien said. "It's unusual, yes, but an opportunity."

Surgeons at Texas A&M removed about two inches of bone to enable them to create a pad of tissue that would allow for prosthetics.

"Until I worked on him, I hadn't ever done it before. And I'd not heard of (prosthetics) before in a bovine," said Ashlee Watts, an equine orthopedic surgeon.

Martin figures she has spent nearly $40,000 to save the calf.

"I don't know how to explain it," she said. "I'm an animal rescuer. And he had everything against him."

Hero's hooves are custom made of urethane and titanium, the connecting components are titanium and carbon fiber and the sockets that attach to his legs are carbon fiber and acrylic resin. Martin and O'Brien declined to discuss the cost, but estimated that similar devices for humans go for between $4,000 and $8,000 apiece.

Hero's sockets are painted with black and white cow spots. "Holstein legs," O'Brien laughed.

"We like to customize legs to the person's personality," she said.

Martin, 53, a former veterinary technician and retired truck driver, hopes Hero will grow to 1,500 pounds. Hero can be a therapy animal for wounded veterans and special needs children.

"He's got a very bright future right now," Martin said.

Critical thinking challenge: The benefit to Hero is obvious, but what is the benefit to the people who performed this procedure?

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COMMENTS (50)
  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    5/26/2014 - 11:39 a.m.

    I think that this cow is really big and cute because, it has two old legs and two new legs. I think that this animal can be the coolest animal in the world because of its new legs. I think that these people should have an reason why they had to change the cows legs in the first place. I hope that the cow can become what it wants to be in the near future.

  • Tymarcus909
    5/27/2014 - 10:24 a.m.

    that making a prosthetic for an animal is a great idea. It's a great idea because it makes animals last longer and survie. to keep them to the day they die. an leat them be have there babys a live a well know.animal we need to be a live to eat an have some clothes.

  • dante lewis
    5/27/2014 - 10:52 a.m.

    The 600-pound English Charolais calf was hot and tired. It had traveled three hours inside a trailer behind a pickup truck.The calf was content to lie on the grass behind a building. A team of technicians worked on its hind legs.

  • Siara Spriggs
    5/27/2014 - 11:04 a.m.

    what i think about the story is that just beausa cow or another anmail is hurt does not mean that that anmail will not stay alive.

  • emmab12342624-
    5/27/2014 - 01:19 p.m.

    A little calf named Hero of course (& not the name "Hiro") was hot & bothered from walking a mile. So, the Kitty Martin decides to save him @ last. & they also took him to a TEXAS veteran to get Hero fixed. I know I should?t be uninterested in all; but all m thinking of is that they would put robot legs on the cow. You know, like that Robot Chicken look. But anyways, the veteran puts some new legs on the cow. What a big surprise, &. & that's what I have to say about that story. THE END.

  • emmab12342624-
    5/27/2014 - 01:23 p.m.

    A little calf named Hero of course (& not the name "Hiro") was hot & bothered from walking a mile. So, the Kitty Martin decides to save him @ last. & they also took him to a TEXAS veteran to get Hero fixed. I know I should?t be uninterested in all; but all m thinking of is that they would put robot legs on the cow. You know, like that Robot Chicken look. But anyways, the veteran puts some new legs on the cow. What a big surprise, & the reason why he got frostbite, it? because he got frostbite! It? awful!

  • dymondc-Lan
    5/27/2014 - 02:39 p.m.

    this is soo sad i almost cried ... poor thang hope he gets his legs back .. its soo cute omg.. *Teacher's note: it's 25 words, Dymond, not 25 letters. Details, details!

  • AddisonE-4
    5/27/2014 - 07:37 p.m.

    A calf named Hero is the first calf to ever have a double amputee. His to back,legs are now metal and his owners are very proud of him. I think this is very daring to do, but it must be worth it to his owners at the farm where Hero lives.

  • PJS-3
    5/28/2014 - 12:14 a.m.

    This article is about a 600-pound English Charolais calf. It was very exhausted and traveled for 3 hours behind a pickup truck inside in trailer. All the calf wanted to do was lie behind a building on some grass. During this time, doctors worked on its hind legs. This calf, named Hero, may be the only calf with a double-amputee and prosthetics. Attached to its two hind legs are two devices that are very high-tech. This article was very sad and happy at the same time. It was sad knowing the calf only had two working legs, but happy because it had two very well working replacements.

  • alexa5k2
    5/28/2014 - 10:32 a.m.

    Wow I think that this little calf is so happy and says thank yous to the people who had helped him and I'm so happy for the calf.

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