ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Meadow the yearling Black Angus calf spends her days frolicking in northeastern New Mexico's cattle country, all with her prosthetic hind legs.
The bucolic scene seemed impossible just a few months ago, when rancher Nancy Dickenson and her stepdaughter, Martha, found Meadow on a neighbor's property. The 11-month-old calf had lost her back hooves and half of her ears to severe frostbite.
The Dickensons have rescued dozens of animals and wanted to give Meadow a chance to walk normally again. They located the calf's owner and bought Meadow, and convinced veterinarians and students at Colorado State University to help her.
Doctors amputated a portion of Meadow's hind legs in August and fitted her with the prosthetics, a rare procedure done on livestock typically destined for the food supply. Meadow is believed to be the first bovine calf fitted with double prosthetics, Colorado State veterinarian Dr. Robert Callan said. He based his claim on discussions with other veterinarian clinics and schools.
Nancy Dickenson said the family decided to pay what she expects will cost "thousands of dollars" for the procedures because Meadow has become another family pet.
Meadow, named for the spot she was found, returned home to New Mexico last month. Dickenson said she doesn't want any visitors at Twin Willows Ranch near Ocate while Meadow recuperates. These days, Meadow is running and grazing, and making friends with goats in a nearby pen, Dickenson said.
"She's just so precious," she said. "A few people have asked 'Is she going to be beef?' and I said 'Are you kidding? This is my newest baby.'"