The City Girl Farmer


Tiddles Calved!
April 29, 2011, 6:46 pm
Filed under: Cows | Tags: , , ,

I could tell she was getting close.  I think the definitive sign is how they walk—-or more accurately, can’t walk.  That’s how you know you are less than a week away, in this case about 3 days.  Plus, we were expecting a spring snow storm and that seems to be the favorite time for livestock to give birth.    I guess if they survive the cold and wind, Old Bitch Nature (my favorite little nugget from the Contrary Farmer) figures they can survive anything! I could tell she was in labor Tuesday night at milking time so I decided to wait up with her and watch.  I was not disappointed!  A healthy bull calf was born around 12:15 a.m. Wednesday morning (April 27th).  The birth was uneventful but still a  little miracle as every birth is.

It took him a really long time to nurse which was of some concern.  That sent me in to take a look at the internet and I picked up some interesting information.  Dairy breeds have been bred to have HUGE udders and their teats are not tucked up in the natural place that calves look for the food source, high up between the mama’s back legs.  Tiddles’ teats were hanging down below her hocks so they were hard for him to find and latch on to.  Some smart agricultural expert had a little table of how low cows teats are and how long it takes on average for the calf to find them.  The lower they are, the harder it is for the calf.  Who knew?

I also discovered that the calf’s ability to absorb all the antibodies from colostrum goes down the longer it takes to nurse, so that if it doesn’t get colostrum until 48 hours after it is born, it only absorbs 5% of the antibodies.  That was enough information to get me worried.  We hadn’t got him to latch on really well by 4:00 a.m., so he has been bottle fed since then.

I am posting pictures (mostly so I can refer back) so if you are squeamish about these things, you’ll probably want to stop after this bit of text.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

He is absolutely adorable! What are you going to do with him?

Comment by Paula

Great site. Thanks for the info. I’ve got a chicken question for you. What are you doing with your laying hens when they get old? Have you butchered many old girls? I’m wondering if they are worth the effort at 2 yrs old. I appreciate any advice on this before I make the long drive to Simla.

Comment by Samantha

@Paula We’re going to sell him to someone who wants to use him for breeding.

@Samantha We haven’t butchered any of our old girls yet because they’re still laying. They may not be laying as much as when they were younger, but we’re still getting eggs. I promised my kids the first batch wouldn’t be butchered, so I may end up keeping a few old hens as pets. In theory, though, when they’re done laying, they’ll go to the butcher and be used for soup stock.

Comment by littletoe




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: