The RiserTank and method of use provide a simple and better managed recovery process for Downer Cows.

Our current customers with their own RiserTanks tell us their Downer cow recovery rate achieved over their years of use is 80%.The comparative Downer cow recovery rate for using the Best Practice Nursing for Downer Cows is 55%.


How RiserTanks Work

The RiserTank uses the buoyancy of water, within a confined area to enable Downer Cows to stand & feed for longer than normal. The water effectively reduces their body weight by 50%. The cow stands bearing weight, so circulation, muscles, nerves and confidence all start recovering and healing. As well, the supervision significantly requires less time & labour input compared to current methods of “nursing”.


Results and Case Studies Overview

Overall, our customer outcomes, utilising the RiserTank and it’s methods, state a 80% recovery success. Our research has shown the recovery expectation for calving paralysis cases is best of all, with all recovered cases returning to milk within 3 to 7 days. Only the severe paralysis cases do not recover. These cases are diagnosed early with the RiserTank use and show a difficulty to stand at all on both of their hind limbs.The RiserTank system is also ideal for cases of pregnancy toxaemia, 3 day sickness, early* milk fever/metabolic and downer cows from slips on concrete.


In Brief: RiserTank Method of Use

Generally cows stand in warm water (35°C) for 6 to 8 hours then water is released to their knees to let them rest in upright sitting position. The confinement of the RiserTank enables cows to rest contently in the low surrounding warm water, keeping them warm with less muscle compression. The rest period can be a few hours during the day or overnight. To stand the cow up again, warm water from the instantaneous gas hot water heater refills the RiserTank and floats the cow up to such a height where by she can re-stand by herself again. When the cows/heifers are standing well enough and for long enough, especially with the released water, (no buoyancy) then you know they are right to be released. You can then open the RiserTank door and walk them out or lift out with the economy units. Most cases are released within 2 to 5 days.


Cow Tolerance

The cows will generally indicate to you their ability to stand and level of comfort within the RiserTank System. The combination of the warm water and the confinement of the RiserTank provide a secure environment for the cow. The confinement stops the struggling to get up when resting and secures them well when standing, especially within water.


Warm Water Invigorates & Stimulates Appetite

The RiserTank has an efficient hot water system, pre set to 35°C and takes about 1hr 45 mins to fill & about 45 minutes to top up for re-floating & re-standing the cow. The warm water and the fact they are standing both contribute to appetite stimulation and their survival will.



Cow Diagnosis and Outcome Expectations

Short Term Recovery Cases

The RiserTank is often a good diagnostic tool for assessment of their grading or degree of paralysis or injury. Studies have shown that most recovery times are reduced – generally the majority of cows require between 1 & 3 days for a full walk away recovery. You can usually diagnose a cow’s condition within 10 minutes of placement in water. Most cows fully stand when lifted into the water, with full water.


Medium Term Recovery

The cows that bear weight well on the one hind leg and less so on the other hind leg (refer to video) generally will recovery within 7 days. Longer standing times seems to be very beneficial for these cases.


Poor or Long term Recovery Cases

The cows that cannot fully stand on both hind legs when in full level of water in the RiserTank generally have a poor recovery chance and prognosis.Their hindquarters tend to “bob” up and down in the water. The gas in the rumen keeps them buoyant and afloat. They are generally relaxed and accepting of their floatation.These cases are often recommended for euthanasia as prognosis is very poor.

(The attached RiserTank instructions of use written by Dr John Steinfort BVSc provide more comprehensive information on using the RiserTank to rehabilitate downer cows)



RiserTank Benefits Summary

*Early milk fever explanation; We recommend a prioritised action for ALL downer cows. A milk fever case where the cow is struggling to get up for any length of time is detrimental to the recovery success of that animal. The value of having your RiserTank on stand by, ready for use in an appropriate location with access to water, power and LPG, is an important factor in your recovery success rate.

Note: Feedback from a post graduate vet attending a Large Animal Veterinary Hospital in California USA, cited a 90% recovery success rate using the RiserTank. Their recovery rate is in part attributed to the dairy farmer prioritisation given to downer cows and their management.

Cost Benefit Analysis

Cost Benefit Analysis of RiserTank System compared to Conventional Nursing and standing management of Downer cows. Analysis compares the recovery rates and associated benefits in a 400 cow dairy farm. Assume there is an average of 6 downer cows per year.

Conventional Nursing with 50% recovery rate RiserTank System with 80% recovery rate.
Save 3 cows per year Save 5 cows per year
Save 2 lactations from the 3 cows saved Save 4 lactations
Cows are valued at $2000
Net lactation value in first year is $1200
Save an extra 2 cows per year. Save 2 extra lactations with improved recovery time with net lactation profit in the first recovery year only.


$4000 in value of cows saved
$1200 x 2 = $2400 Net lactation value in first year
$2,400 x 3 years = $7,200 : estimated net lactation value for the following 3 years of milking
Labour saving = half labour inputs
Save 10 hours labour per cow = $250 ( x5 cows = $1250)

“$14,800 = value of components listed above”

+ $12,000 = the lower valve of estimated production losses due to Downer Cow losses
(see attached spreadsheet to show workings)

= $24,800 : the total net savings achieved as a result of the first year’s use of the RiserTank

$9,000 is the average purchase cost of a RiserTank

The benefits multiple out with each incremental increase in herd cow numbers.





“Using the RiserTank has been very successful for our operation – it has lead to us achieving significantly higher downer cow recovery rates. The buoyancy of water means cows are not putting excessive weight on damaged nerves. Our labour costs have decreased – the system allows us to fill up with warm water at the start of each session then leave & forget for the rest of the day.”

Graeme Cope

G & J Cope Family Trust, Fish Creek, Gippsland

“We had an outbreak of 3 day sickness across the entire herd – the younger cows were more severely affected. Prior to purchasing the RiserTank we lost 2 young cows. After purchasing & using the RiserTank we achieved a complete recovery of all the other younger cows we treated”

Ben Clarke

“BCDC Holdings” Taree, Mid North Coast NSW

“We have used the RiserTank for the past 6 years & have achieved an average downer cow recovery rate of 80%. Purchasing the RiserTank has been a good investment for us – it provides us peace of mind. The length of each session time in the RiserTank varies depending on the condition of the cow. The condition of cow also affects the overall recovery time, which varies between 2 & 5 days.”

Del Armstrong

Cloverlea, West Gippsland