lake arrived safely yesterday afternoon, a beautiful spring day to be sure. My beginners luck ran out a long time ago though, Jane had been looking off to me for several days, not just pre-labor odd either, yesterday morning she looked really off, so I called the vet. I noticed an odd scab/sore on her udder cleft about ten days ago, and had been treating that topically – what had looked like numerous fly bite scabs was actually an abscess from? Long story short, Jane would freshen with mastitis. I don’t have a lot of practice with mastitis, which may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at such things. The vet surmised that the abscess and the affected quarters were related, maybe. Hard to say, mastitis in heifers usually points to other calves nursing on them, or things like deep bedding. Jane wasn’t around any calves and her stall is cleaned daily during the winter, and she is on pasture for most of the year. It’s all water under the bridge now, I have to deal with a sick cow. I pre-milked her yesterday, administered antibiotics, froze the colostrum, discarded the mastitis milk, and will continue with frequent milking of the affected quarters. She is also getting homeopathics, (prescribed by her ND friend) although I am not a faith healer, I firmly believe in natural remedies as much as possible, but there is a place for modern medicine too. I’ve watched too many cows get ruined with numerous natural remedies only to find a cure at the sale barn or in the freezer. I don’t want to travel that path with my Jane.
I establish my milking routine within 12 hours normally, yesterday I flew by the seat of my pants and started early. Not quite how I had it planned but getting Jane back to health is my number one priority. Blake will be helping nurse her mom back to health as well. That’s good, I like having a relief milker that comes pre-trained.
Jane provided a great photo opportunity with a textbook birth. Not counting pre-labor which isn’t always apparent, once Jane was slab-sided, she spent about 45 minutes pushing Blake out.
At this point I would call this active labor, back hunched, tail off to the side and maybe held out away from the body. Clear cervical mucus is another good sign. Jane had already passed several strings of clear mucus at this point.
During labor a cow may get up, and lie down repeatedly. Here Jane is resting between contractions and getting some back rubs from me when no one was pointing the camera my way. The amniotic sac is visible at this point and looks like a purple ball. However the grass is obscuring the view.
Jane is pushing here. What you want to see at this stage are feet, hopefully the front feet top up, bottom down which is the most common presentation. If you look close you may see a muzzle with the tongue sticking out. Back feet are OK, but you should be ready to assist the cow, with a front feet/head presentation you have some time to let the cow do her job. I bred Jane to a low birthweight Hereford, so she wouldn’t have a hard time calving. Blake is quite large though, but Jane did fine.
All this is a test for Jane’s temperament too, we will be working closely together and you don’t want a family cow that won’t let you help. She’s an absolute doll, licking the amniotic fluid off my arms too. Thanks Jane, but I’ll use soap and water next time, your tongue is a little rough
A few more contractions and the placenta is out, and she is clean.