Two weeks overdue, we knew it would be a big one! This mom is very experienced, this being her 5th calf. Ray had her in the calving pen, she mooed at him in a series of moos only he could understand. So, Ray came in and told me that the cow told him the calf was coming tonight. No surprise, a few hours later Ray was out in the barn calving a big 115 pound + heifer calf. The calf was too big, so Ray had to pull it.
In the normal birthing position, the calf comes out with its front legs kind of crossed first with the nose around the knees. Although this calf was really thick shouldered, big boned and tall, with some pulling, the calf came out shaking the fluid from its ears and snorting it out of its nose.
In a short while, we had the calf in the house. Our basement has an area between the garage and the house that is our temporary calf incubator. 🙂 I warmed towels in the clothes drier and warmed up the calf, placing them over her. Since it was February it got chilled rather fast being wet. Pneumonia is a real danger always.
Ray, meanwhile, was milking the cow for the colostrum. It is important for the calf to get that first milk as quickly as possible. The longer the delay, the less antibodies are absorbed into the bloodstream. There is a short window of time to work with. The colostrum is very yellow, almost orange and very thick if it is quality stuff. After Ray brought some in, the fun begins. First of all usually all the calf wants to do is sleep. It has no idea what a nipple is or what to do. We had a hard time, first of all for some reason this crazy nipple would not tighten properly and fluid was escaping from around the ridge of the bottle and making everything wet. Plan 2, I put the nipple on a jar, heck when you are desperate you get inventive. It worked fine, much better seal.
So one holds the calf upright the other tries to work the jaw and help the calf get the idea !! Sooner or later they do, but the first day is always hard. Then the naval gets dipped/ sprayed well with iodine so it dries out so there is no infection.
A few days later, the calf is jumping up to get fed, gets a tag and a tattoo in its ear and has a name to be filed to be registered: Prime LS Porsche Dinah. Prime LS is our farm name, Porsche is the bull name, from the artificial insemination tank 🙂 and Dinah is her name.