Clinical Examination of the Cow

Clinical Examination Routine

University of Glasgow crest

The Right Hand Side

Much of the procedure on the right hand side of the animal follows that of the left hand side. However, there are some differences due to the differences in anatomical structures:

General appearance

As with the left side, it is important to step back and look at the whole animal before you start. What is the coat condition like? Are there any suspicious lumps and bumps? How is the animal standing - does the posture suggest pain in the limbs, or is the animal tucking the hindlimbs under the body because of abdominal pain?

The right hand side of the animal

Lymph nodes

The prescapular and precrural lymph nodes are palpable on the right side as for the left.

Heart and Lungs

Auscultation of the lung fields is the same as for the left side of the animal, although the findings are often quite different due to the anatomic separation of the left and right lung fields. Auscultation of the heart is quite similar, although less of the heart is usually audible on the right hand side. However, common heart murmors such as ventricular septal defects are often louder on the right than on the left, so it is essential to properly auscultate the heart from both sides! Percussion may also be performed on the right side as for the left hand side of the animal over the lung field, and may also be used to guage the size of the liver.

Digestive system

The routine for examination of the digestive system differs between the left and right sides of the animal. The rumen is not palpable or audible from the right hand side, but the intestines should be auscultated to determine the frequency of peristatic movements. The liver may also be palpated if enlarged (or in very thin cattle) - feel for the caudal border of the liver behind the last rib.[watch video]

Auscultating the small intestine

You should make sure that there is no displacement of the abomasum to the right side, however a positive 'ping' test on the right hand side is not necessarily abomasal in origin. A right sided ping can originate from the abomasum, caecum, small intestine, large intestine and even the rectum [more information]. As with an LDA, it is important to be thorough when performing this procedure - some pings can be highly localised.


As with the left hand side of the animal, a visual examination of the limbs and feet is essential.


The following procedures can be performed at any point during the examiantion routine, but are often done towards the end:

Dorsal coat Always inspect the dorsal coat for signs of ectoparasites. This animal has lice in the withers region which will require treatment.

Inspecting the naval Inspecting the naval

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