This year we have been fortunate to have almost all the cows calve on their own without assistance. Sometimes, though, issues do arise and the cows need help calving. This happened the other day when I went out. I noticed this cow was calving on the bed pack, the calf was presented properly, so I decided to leave her to calve on her own. I went to check the other cows, and came back to her. I found her standing up with the calf hanging out. Normally, when the cow is birthing, she alternates between laying and standing, pushing the calf out front feet first, it’s head, followed by it’s body (trunk), hips and lastly hind legs and feet. As the calf is just about out (only it’s hips and hind legs left to birth), the cow stands up, and gravity helps the calf out. With the calf just hanging there, I knew I had to help her out. The calf was still alive, holding it’s head up, and moving it around. I walked over to this cow, expecting her to move, and she didn’t. I grabbed the calf’s front leg and chest, lifted it up and turned it to the side slightly, and the calf was fully born.
Sometimes a cow, especially new first-to-calve heifers, don’t have a great maternal instinct. They are sometimes mean or even uninterested in their calf. The latter was true Sunday morning. A heifer calved not long before I went to check on the cows, and she was more interested in eating, than caring for her new calf. I tried to coax her over to her calf and get him to nurse her out in the pasture, but she would run away, not stand still long enough to let him suckle, or even kick and head-butt him. Enough was enough, so we ran her into the head catch where she couldn’t run away. We brought her baby up to her and tried, and tried to get him to latch and suckle. It took over an hour, but he eventually got the hang of suckling with out help. She isn’t mean to him now, just still unsure about him. We will continue to assist her and her calf with suckling until she stands still enough to let him latch and nurse.