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.

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