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Withers Pinch (Scootch) Test

Many gastrointestinal diseases cause abdominal pain in the cow. Cows with GI pain often stand hunched up with their elbows abducted. The withers can be pinched as shown in the above picture (sometimes it requires two hands). A normal cow will flex her back ventrally when her withers are pinched as seen above. A cow who is painful will not flex ventrally. False negatives are common. Common reasons for abdominal pain are hardware, abomasal ulcers, or distention of the small intestine with gas.

Grunt Test

Either by using your fists pushed up with your knee or by using a board with one person on each side lifting the board up, apply pressure to the xiphoid region. If the cow grunts, kicks, or acts uncomfortable, you can assume she is painful. Often, you have to listen over the trachea during the peak of inspiration while simultaneously applying pressure to the xiphoid area to hear a grunt.


Click on your next PE point to continue with your physical exam.

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