Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cattle Corner, May 21, 2009

Well i know i havent posted for a while, please forgive, things get pretty busy this time of year on the farm. Our first calf heifer finally had her calf, and the outcome was not what I had anticipated. I suppose one could say we lost our first calf, but sine the calf died before it was really born, I'm not sure if we had much to do with that.
You see, our heifer went into labor, and 1 1/2 hours later all I could see was the two front hoofs, which is a little long. I felt around for the nose, it was there, and a tongue, and it was moving. Almost 2 hours and not much was happening, i began to get really concerned, so we called the vet. By now it was evening, but thankfully we were in a lit stall with clean bedding. The vet was dispatched, and low and behold, out came the head, calf gasping, but breathing! I cleaned off its face and began to rub the calf vigorously. We cancelled the vet call, hoping he hadnt left his house yet. The rest should have been rather easy, usually a few more pushes from mom and that calf should slide right out, but this one was not to be. She pushed and I pulled. The calf gasped. Push, pull, push pull, nothing moved! Call the vet again!. By now momma was pretty much exausted, laying on her side , eyes rolled back. The calf was stuck half in and half out,its umbilical cord still inside, and there wasnt a thing either of us could do about it. The calf continued to gasp, I continued to rub it down, "hang in there little one", but it wasnt meant to be , and the little calf died in my arms. No time to morn, my thoughs immediately went to my heifer, laying flat out, panting. Thankfully the vet arrived within 15-20 minutes of the second call, and he could not pull that calf out with chains, nor could he turn the calf inside the mother, as it was wedged tight by its hip bones. The cow was given a sedative to make her more comfortable (never skimp on these, they are extremely inexpensive cost wise) and the vet, after assessing the situation quickly, informed us since the calf was already dead, he was going to have to cut, or partly dismember it to get it out. I know this sounds gruesome, but the calf had passed, and momma was in perial at this point. I cradled mommas head in my arms and then left, letting the vet finish his task. My husbnd picked up the calf and placed it in the spreader for burial the next day. The vet had somehow got a fine cutting wire in around the calfs hip and sawed the calf apart at one hip. There was no blood; I did not study the carcass too long, as I did not want to know if it was a heifer or bull I had lost. (keep it as impersonal as I could, otherwise the tears would have started....).
The mother was given a shot of oxytocin to help her to clean, and an epidural as well to help her regain feeling of her legs that she had been laying on far too long. He explained the leg nerves can get damaged from the pressure of giving birth and laying on her side for the hour or so she had, and that she may not regain the full use of her legs at all.
She was sitting up (laying but upright) when he left, we gave her fresh water and hay, cleaned up a bit and left her for the night.
Morning came to find her standing , although shaky, and cleaned. She was eating and drinking. After 2 more days in the box stall, she was let out to join her compainions, quite stiff on the one leg, she has almost completely recovered after 2 weeks.
We are thankful. Thankful we did not loose the mother along with the calf. Thankful to the vet that came out from his house quickly to help, and knew just what to do. Thankful that our little heifer sustained no lasting internal or external damage, and lived to join the others to graze again on the lush spring pastures here on our farm. She will have a relaxing summer!
The baby, we buried it under the pine trees, and pitched our composting manure pile over top. We will plant in the pile soon.

We should have some beautiful pumpkins.

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