Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How much can you learn in 24 hours?


If you've checked any of my family member's blogs you have probably heard our heifer had her calf. Well, she had it. This afternoon it started showing signs of pneumonia and not long after that it ended up dieing. Even when it was first delivered it did not make any effort to raise itself and we probably should have warmed it up quicker than we did. We decided to leave it in the barn for an hour at least and see if its mother would get up and dry it off. Sandy the mother didn't want to get up at all and we read that early signs of milk fever can start to show soon after birth and so we suspected she might be down for that reason.

We took the little bull calf up to the house to warm it up and we thought it might recover. It was shivering a little so we covered it in blankets and it warmed up some. We milked out a little colostrum from the cow and used some powdered stuff and tried to get some down the calf but it wasn't able to suck on its own from a bottle. We tried using a save-a-kid syringe and that worked and we got about 2 quarts of colostrum down it in a few hours.

We have had some experience with milk fever in goats before and knew what to do and had the IV supplies on hand so it went quick and easy for the cow. Even if it wasn't milk fever for sure we thought we'd try it anyway to be safe. I have read that jersey cows can have more problems with milk fever because of the high milk to body weight ratio and it isn't rare to see it it soon after birth. After the (subcutaneous) injection was done the cow seemed to perk up a lot and was back to normal again.

We didn't feel we could leave the calf alone until we had fed it enough so Jonathan, Dad and I worked with it and ended up going to bed at 4:15 this morning. I had been up since 6:45 yesterday morning to get ready to go help with the sheep so I was up for about 21 hours. Probably a record for me. I chose not to look at the clock to see how late it was and nobody told me what time it was so I didn't feel too tired until about 1:30 and then was glad to get some rest when we were done. Jonathan and Dad were up every hour after that to check on the calf but I didn't wake up until it was time to go out and milk out the cow again.

This afternoon Dad and David decided to run to town (not literally) and pick up some things from Nodak and see what the vet carried for supplies. A little while after he left we saw the calf start to get a lot worse and called the store and asked them if they had seen Dad there. The owner and most of the employees know who we are and got Dad on the end of the line for us to talk to. We had looked up pneumonia and saw a we needed to have vitamin C injections to give the calf and asked him to pick that up and come back home soon. The calf died fifteen minutes before he got here so it was too late.

I guess the conclusion of the birth was:

not to calve for the first time in December, to feed a more rounded mineral supplement going up to calving and have a higher percent calcium content, warm up the calf immediately even if it is pretty warm outside, keep vitamin C injections an hand as well as everything else needed and keep learning everything you can about cows and calving.

We'll do better next time,



Anonymous said...

Another thing you could consider adding to the list is breeding the cow around the fall equinox. This is a more natural late spring birth. Cows and bulls can breed year round this is the way God created them so that they can be adapted to your climate. A good book to read that as helped me understand how all this works is: "GRASS FED CATTLE" by Julius Ruechel.

Peter said...

Yes, we will probably end up calving again a year from this comming spring. A much better time of year for young animals!