"You have to be careful, they can kill you."
Those are the words from SES cluster commander for Kiama, John Wall, who just wound up a complex rescue operation in Jamberoo.
Early morning on Thursday, October 26, the owner of a farm on Burra Creek Road, Natalie Zelinsky, found her cow stuck neck-deep in mud beside a dam, and its calf bellowing from a nearby patch of grass.
The 400 kilogram Murray Grey had become so stuck that only the top of her back and her head was visible.
"It looked like mum had gone down for a drink and got stuck," Mr Wall said.
"She was firmly stuck in the mud, the suction is like quicksand."
With Ms Zelinsky unable to rescue the cow, SES and NSW Rural Fire Service crews were called in.
Crews undertake specialised large animal rescue training to learn not only how to help stricken animals, but how to stay safe as animals often panic and lash out when they're stuck.
"We've got a few dirty tricks to get large animals out," Mr Wall laughed referencing all the mud around the dam.
Crews were saved hours of hand digging the cow out thanks to an excavator that happened to be at the farm.
"He scooped mud away from the side to help us get her out. We protected her and only let him get within a quarter of a metre of her," Mr Wall said.
With a hole dug beside the stricken cow, SES and RFS crews began to hand dig her out, but her legs were "suctioned" into the mud so water was pumped in around them.
"We had to be careful because the hole we dug was filling with water and if too much water went in we would have drowned her."
Click on the picture to see more photos from the rescue
Once the cow's feet were finally freed she had a big drink, thanks to a bucket of clean water provided by the RFS, and then rushed to reunite with her calf.
The cow and crew were uninjured during rescue.
"I'm really appreciative of the community spirit of the Jamberoo RFS, the SES and Wayne [Beckett who drove the excavator], I couldn't have done it by myself," Ms Zelinsky said.
"They all came so willingly and at the end of the day they're volunteers."
If you have a large animal that needs rescuing call triple-0.
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