When it comes to eating, cows are not picky. A rapid ingestion of food will often result in the accidental uptake in foreign material. Among that material can be metal objects such as nails and wire fencing.


The reticulum is the first stomach of a cow. This stomach sits right up against the diaphragm. It is in here that any heavy metallic objects ingested will accumulate.

Accidental ingestion of sharp pieces of metal can result in perforation of the stomach wall and can lead to hardware disease. The escape of stomach contents and bacteria through the stomach wall will result in a severe infection in the abdomen.

There is a possibility that the sharp piece of metal can penetrate forward from the reticulum, through the diaphragm and into the pericardial sac surrounding the heart. An infection in the pericardial sac can prevent effective function of the heart and lead to heart failure.

Cows suffering from Hardware Disease can have signs ranging in severity depending on the location, extent and duration of the infection.

Contact Franklin Vets if you notice the following behaviours

  • Standing with a wide based stance
  • Reluctance to move
  • Weight loss
  • Distension of the jugular veins
  • Increased respiratory rate

Once Hardware Disease has been diagnosed, surgery is an option. The cow will be held in a head bail in preparation for a rumenotomy. Sufficient pain relief and antibiotics will be given. A cow will have a much greater chance of survival after surgery.