Calving time is one of my favourite times of the year. I enjoy going out to the cows and seeing what “surprises” are awaiting; and what the calf looks like (we use a mix of Red/Black Angus & Hereford bulls so sometimes the calf colour surprises me!). It never fails to amaze me how strong and tough those little critters are and sometimes, unfortunately, aren’t.
Last night was one of those nights. While my husband and son were feeding in the tractor, the baby and I went walking around the pasture checking on the cows. I noticed one (number 97) not coming for feed and saw the tell-tale sign of after-birth hanging behind her. I walked over and sure enough, 97 had calved, IN.THE.MUD!! She had him licked off as much as she could but he wasn’t getting up.
Well, we did what any rancher or farmer would do and we brought the new calf in the house to dry him off, warm him up (did I mention it was -5C with the temp dropping through the night). and gave him a shot of Selenium & Vitamin E. He was still cold, so we put him in the bathtub with some warm water. Boy, did he begin to protest then & cry for his mom (all while our 2 kids were sleeping just a few feet away). We tried to give him a bottle of colostrum while we were drying him off the second time, and he wouldn’t suck so we got out the esophageal tube and administered the colostrum that way. By this time we had spent about 5 hours with him and it was now 1 am. Both my husband and I were tired and out of ideas to help this little one. So, I got the heat lamp, some blankets and we made him as comfortable as possible and went to bed ourselves and hoped for the best in the morning.
Unfortunately 97’s little one didn’t make it, but we tried. As farmers and ranchers, we have to remember that we are working with nature, some things are just out of our control. When the sun rises, it’s a new day, and we have over 70 cows still to calve!!