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Saved a little life

March 13th, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Well, yesterday DH and I had an interesting day. We had a cow that looked like it was going to calve soon because it was off by itself and just looking kind of "squirrely", i.e., not comfortable, getting up and down, and wanting to run off when we came around.

Around 6:30 p.m., the feet started presenting, which meant she should have the calf in an hour or two. We were making her nervous, so we retreated to back by the barn and kind of watched her through the brush. She would push, turn around real fast to see if the calf was out, and then push again. She finally did give birth, and we immediately heard her start bellowing and making a fuss. It didn't sound good. We hopped on the 4-wheeler and raced down to where she was.

Usually, the first thing the cow does is start licking the calf and smelling it, and maybe nudging it with their nose. This cow was butting the calf over and over again with her forehead. At first, it was just little nudges, but then she progressed to the point where we thought she would kill it. DH went over by her and tried to stop her when it got rough, but wanted her to try to lick it so she would claim it. She just wouldn't do it. She would lick maybe once or twice, and then start head butting it again, usually when the calf would start to stand up. The final straw was when she tried to smash it between her head and the ground. We immediately chased her off and grabbed the calf and put it on the 4-wheeler.

We left the pasture on the 4-wheeler and went to get the pickup. We put the calf in the back of the pickup and drove back out. We wanted her to follow us back to the barn, but she would only go as far as she knew the calf had been. It was like she knew she had a calf, but the thing we had wasn't it, and she didn't know where hers was. So, we took it back to the barn. I made up half a bottle of colostrum (special milk that has more vitamins in it to give a new born a better start) and DH put some straw in the pen. The little calf ate most of the bottle, and we left it in the pen for the night.

DH talked to his dad and I talked to my dad about this, because we had never had anything like this happen before. His dad said he had had one like that before but he hadn't caught it in time, and the poor thing died. My dad said he had one like that this year for the first time, and he had to do the same thing...take it away and feed it. But he said that he put the cow into a chute a couple of times a day and had the calf suck for a few days and the cow eventually calmed down and they are doing fine now. So, that is the plan.

Last night around 3:30 a.m., we went out again to check to make sure no other cow needed help, and give the calf another half-bottle of colostrum. The calf ate the milk just fine, she seemed warm enough, and so we left her alone for the rest of the night.

DH went back out around 9:00 this morning, and the cow had come up as close to the barn as it could get. It was like she finally knew where her baby was. So, DH opened the gate and she came in. DH let the calf out, and the cow didn't attack, but the calf didn't know what to do...it never tried to nurse. And they kind of stayed on opposite ends of the pen. He separated them again, and when I went out after lunch we set up the chute (yes, we didn't have it set up yet...) and put the cow in.

We milked her a bit and put it in a bottle to help get the calf sucking. I milked a little less than a pint, and I just have to say...if i had to milk a cow to get milk to drink, I would drink a LOT less milk! Just a pint made my forearms tired, but I got it! My first time to ever milk - like seriously milk. I had been there when someone was milking and they let me try, so I squeezed a few drops out, but this was a lot more than that. (Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.) Got the calf to eat a little of the bottle, and then transferred her over to the cow. After quite a few tries, she eventually got it. The cow was calm but trying to look back at what has happening.

When we let the cow out again, they retreated to opposite ends of the pen again.

Tonight we put her in the chute again, and the calf did better. We didn't have to show her how to latch on this time, but we did have to keep pushing her towards the cow.

When we let them out this time, the calf finally seemed to know who momma was (she thought DH or I was momma for a while) and she started following the cow all over the pen, and the cow hasn't made an aggressive move towards the cow all day. We have them penned up together tonight, and if we see the little calf nurse tomorrow by itself without us helping, we are going to consider them reconciled.

7 Responses to “Saved a little life”

  1. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Drama! Scary. I hope it will work out.

  2. dmontngrey Says:

    Wow, what an adventure! I'm glad things are looking good for now.

  3. boomeyers Says:

    How exciting! Those crazy cows! Smile That is so awesome that you were able to do the milking. I imagine that would build up some muscles! Keep us posted on mama and baby!

  4. fern Says:

    Wow, that's something. I'm sure it was just the cow's instinct gone awry. Head butting to get the calf to stand up without realizing it could hurt the calf.

    I hope they make out ok.

  5. frugaltexan75 Says:

    What a story! I hope mama and baby get adjusted to each other.

  6. cptacek Says:

    Just wanted to update everybody. Today, we separated the cow and calf early in the afternoon (so the calf would get hungry), then right before dark put them together again. The calf pretty much attacked the cow because it was hungry, and the cow was content to stand there and let her nurse. Success! We let them both out into the pasture again, and though we will keep an eye out for anything amiss, it should turn out ok.

  7. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Yay! A happy ending. Smile

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