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This and That and a New Baby in the Barn part 2

October 20, 2015
Five minutes old

Five minutes old

After the calf pulling which probably took five minutes from start to finish, we moved to another set of problems.  The calf had a torn umbilical and was in danger of a hernia, so he had to be stitched.

You can see the bloody area on Raylan’s stomach.  So besides being a drowned rat, he need some extra attention to the navel which is already an area to watch, as it is a direct line to the animal’s bloodstream and can cause joint or navel ill until the cord dries several days after birth.  Clean birthing areas, and iodine dipping immediately at birth are standard procedure.  His umbilical hernia made this even a more problematic area to keep an eye on.


While the mom and babe got acquainted with each other, I settled up with the vet, and got my instructions for aftercare.  Routine really, make sure the calf gets colostrum, keep an eye on the umbilical, watch for milk fever in a high producing cow, watch for signs of uterine infection which is common in cows with dystocia, etc. etc.  We also discussed Jane’s possible ruptured prepubic tendon and what that means for future calving 😦  Prognosis is not good.  With Jane’s internal organs all shifted to one side she doesn’t have the muscle strength to push out a calf, hence the problems with this birth.  Granted twins are a tough job on a cow, but Jane is young and should be in better shape.  Thinking back, I remember when Dickie was born Jane struggled to get up and after about 15 minutes she finally did get up.  I can’t even imagine how much ripping something loose like that would have hurt.  At this point, breeding Jane again is up in the air, and keeping a cow as a pet isn’t affordable either.  Eating her is out of the question.  Sadness all around.  I was planning on a long lactation and getting Jane back on a spring calving schedule, now it’s a wait and see type of deal.  I will have her checked next summer to see if she is sound for breeding and proceed from there with new information.

Two days old.

Two days old.

At times like this you must focus on the task at hand.  As soon as the vet left, our first order of business was to try to get the calf to nurse, or if he was too weak, milk the cow and bottle feed the calf and get him jump started.

He was very weak, and unable to stand. He tried, but his hind end just wouldn’t cooperate.  So his first milk came from mom via bottle. And then it started to rain.  He was a little rattly from the fluid in his lungs, so we put him on towel that we had dried him with, and dragged him to the barn with mama “helping” us.  He’s a big boy, it was all Ruthless and I could do to get him to the barn. Back getter for sure, live dead weight that you have to be careful with is hard to move.

It was a full 24 hours before he could stand and drink from his bottle with someone spotting for him, getting him to drink when he was that weak was out of the question.  He would valiantly try, but his back legs and hips were weak and sore from the pulling.  He would get on his knees and try to stand the back-end up, and end up spread-eagled on the front or doing the splits on the back. At a certain point you can only do so much, every time I saw him start to keel over, it seemed he was heading that umbilical area straight for a cow pie.  We kept their loafing shed as clean as possible, but you know how that goes.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I dread going to the barn, for fear of what awaits me at dawn.  Down cow, down calf, you just never know.  Then a big sigh of relief when everything is in order.  The second morning, we found Raylan doing the splits again.  No telling how long he had been paddling in that position.  So I milked, and we got him up to feed him.  We were pretty discouraged, it was almost 48 hours since his birth, and he still couldn’t stand on his own.  To our delight, when he finished his bottle, he butted the bottle and didn’t fall over, and when we backed away he followed us under his own power.  Yeah!!! So we milked more into his bottle and fed him more, and then we turned them out.

He toddled right out to the pasture, unsure but under his own power.  He never fell again.  And each day he’s grown stronger and stronger and stronger.

He nurses and drinks from the bottle, which will make it easy to bottle feed him if Jane decides she doesn’t like him nursing, which is what she has done with each of her previous calves.


I love having a house calf, they are chore for sure, but they are so sweet, so smart and fun to have around.  He “helped” me pop the garlic cloves last week, and he’s really helping in the milking department, as I can’t milk yet with my bum knee.  Any milk he nurses is that much that doesn’t have to be milked out.

We love him as much as Jane does.


29 Comments leave one →
  1. elaine permalink
    October 20, 2015 12:12 am

    Awwwww…. ♡

  2. October 20, 2015 12:17 am

    A house baby is a great thing. When all seems too hard, calves make everything better. I’ll keep all appendages crossed for Jane’s breeding future.

  3. Carrie permalink
    October 20, 2015 12:39 am

    Ah yes, you’ve pretty much answered the question I just asked on the other post. I’ll remain positive and consider that internal self-healing can and does happen. And you are a care-giver Nita so she’s got every chance. On the plus side, there’s a chance she didn’t make the tear any worse with this assisted calving. Maybe that’s the future, AI for small calves, assisted births…? Certainly a tough call when you get to it. Take care.

  4. October 20, 2015 2:47 am

    – and thanks for sharing this. It was so interesting for me to ‘be with you’ and your cow.
    I also linked this to my daughter, who is a young midwife- loving any baby.
    All the best to you all,
    Anne from germany

  5. thecrazysheeplady permalink
    October 20, 2015 3:12 am

    He’d be hard not to love.

  6. October 20, 2015 3:58 am

    I have been following your posts on Instagram and was happy to read this update. Farming is never boring, but times like these sure make you look forward to the all those less eventful days. Glad Jane and Raylon are doing well and your leg is better. Perhaps a long lactation and rest will help Jane heal, as well. And glad that trappercreekdaughter is there to help – you two are making memories.. She is one talented photographer, btw!

  7. October 20, 2015 4:16 am

    I am so glad you were able to save one of the calves and that Jane is at least ambulatory and eating and milking so you have time to decide which way to turn. People think farming is easy, but this kind of thing is incredibly challenging. I know just what you mean about dreading what you will find in the barn when you are doctoring on a compromised animal. It can be so discouraging and make you feel so helpless. And then there are those occasions when a creature you were sure was doomed defies the odds and thrives. Then it is all worth it. Best wishes for a good outcome all around…and what a cutie he is!

  8. October 20, 2015 4:19 am

    I am glad they are both doing well for you right now! Sigh of relief after our many many emails back and forth. And I am so glad your knee is starting to heal up!

  9. October 20, 2015 5:33 am

    Thank you for sharing the good, the bad, the ugly and the miraculous. I really appreciate having this access to the realities of farming.
    Hoping for the best for Jane’s future calving. So happy Raglan is “on his feet”!

  10. Allisa Imming permalink
    October 20, 2015 6:22 am

    Very hard work and a happy reward!

  11. Bee permalink
    October 20, 2015 7:27 am

    Nita, in the interest of buying both Jane and yourself more time, you might consider a very extended lactation. I know of some dairies that go for as long as three or even four years on a single lactation (they’re typically Hindus who want the milk but not the calf), and I milked Maybelle for over two years when she lost a calf and there was no way to get breeding schedules to jive (I don’t have AI available). It’s actually a little easier to keep them in condition with an extended lactation. My understanding is that occasionally a cow will have trouble breeding back after milking for three years; Maybelle bred back just fine after two. Jane is such a heavy producer that I suspect you’d have all the milk you needed even into the second year and she would certainly have excellent care to help keep her in good condition! The only disadvantage I found was dealing with the heat cycles; it just meant being extra careful for a couple of days a month. Fingers crossed and prayers for healing!

    • October 20, 2015 7:49 am

      Bee, that is what I was considering, I am looking for a heifer to raise on her and get her out of the pickle of having a calf. I dread the milking while a cow is in heat though, and now that I am lamer than ever – my bad leg is now my good leg – I have to be careful. Lots of ways to go and time to think all this through. Ah to find the perfect cow or horse or dog, there is always something. You couldn’t ask for a better cow than Jane, temperment-wise, but her fragility health-wise is disappointing. She is so patient, my daughter learning on her, the calf learning on her and me trying to help, quite a circus, and she just patiently stands there. Best. Cow. Ever.

      • Bee permalink
        October 20, 2015 8:34 am

        She certainly is a sweetie. If you’ve got a calf nursing her, though, you might be able to get by for the day or so (hopefully her heat isn’t longer than that) that she’s most obstreperous just leaving the calf with her. I’ve done that, too, when I had to be elsewhere (like for hubby’s back surgeries). Knees are a pain for us females, it seems; it’s that pelvic anatomy that increases the stress on the joint as we get older. Although, my bad knee is that way because hubby’s horse bucked me off many years ago and I landed on it, so I can’t really blame anatomy or age for that one! My chiropractor suggested something called an Incredibrace; doesn’t give more than minimal support, but it’s like wearing a heating pad on the knee as you go through your daily activities. Wearing it for about one day a week really made a difference.

        • October 20, 2015 8:45 am

          Yeah this is originating in my hip, and I need to mind my P’s and Q’s gardening and make sure I am using good posture. The worst thing is that just before I twisted it, I was chasing some spotlighters off that were “just looking at the deer in the field.” Well, hmmm, it was after dark and the “deer” were our cattle, so of course after they left I wasn’t paying attention and had to finish my chores in the dark, and I twisted my ankle on a round rock in driveway, the wrenching came from trying to keep from falling. I tell you the endless stream of mushroom foragers, chestnut foragers, and then the hunting guys, it drives me batty. Each and everyone of them think what they are doing is justified and that they are entitled. And god forbid if one our dogs bit them, or the bull got after them while they were trespassing. Grrr.

          I’ll be glad to be back milking, it calms my frazzled nerves, and hopefully it’ll all work out, fingers crossed. I’ll check that brace out, thanks!

        • October 20, 2015 5:55 pm

          Matron, do you have time for a visit to a physiotherapist? I had issues with my knee that were originating in my hip, and he gave me some exercises to do that really helped.

        • October 20, 2015 7:19 pm

          My ND is working up an exercise program for me, I hope it works. I’m getting behind 😦 Thank you!

  12. October 20, 2015 7:48 am

    Oh my gosh, love, praying for you and Jane.

  13. October 20, 2015 10:31 am

    Sorry to hear about your knee and the lost calf. Happy to see the second one has bounced back and doing well. Baby animals always bring happiness to the farm. I’ll say a little prayer that all goes well with Jane and her future.

  14. October 20, 2015 10:40 am

    I DO know that feeling of walking into the barn no knowing what you will see. Sometimes I slow as i turn the corner, no matter how hard I try to be tough my BODY slows me. Wish i could help with the milking. And I sympathise deeply with you on hearing that Jane may not be able to be bred again. But you have a whole season together and Now is a good place to be.

  15. October 20, 2015 5:30 pm

    My grandfather was a cattle man, pretty much since he took to the saddle. Droving was his income until he bought his first piece of land. Most of his interest was in raising beef cattle, but he always kept a Jersey for milking. The things he would have to do to beef cattle, never made him flinch, even doing his own kills and butchering. But he always shed a tear for a dairy cow, who couldn’t do her job. Because the only answer was a bullet, and he hated doing that part.

    I really hope Jane can pull off a miracle, as she has been known to do more than once already. She’s a wonderful gal. 🙂

  16. tratlisa permalink
    October 20, 2015 8:53 pm

    Oh, sweet Jane… a heifer sounds like a great plan. Good luck!

  17. October 20, 2015 10:33 pm

    I was eating some bacon frm a hog named “Alfonso’ because he had that Italian air, and hair. I didn’t enjoy it as much, but not because of the boar’s familiarity (4 years of breeding) great Dad.

    It was just all this passing and birthing. Out main thing is chickens and we got into high end sustainable pure breeds…

    Hatched in incubators seems to make dumb birds – I removed the roosters and they hens pecks the baks off each other. the brooders don’t go to ground to protect their hatch when let nest brood hatch..

    it’s all so weird that it’s not wired.- these chickens are huge and perfect looking but completely avereage or worse in most practical aspects of my farm-mix flock.

    Oh sorry off track – BECAUSE Of this the chicks get born and killed off at 80% ratios, (The moms go up to roost even though the chicks can’t get there FFS

  18. October 20, 2015 10:35 pm

    So I lost one chick from each paddock today. From ‘Barnyard’ mixed survivor chickens my chick making it rate is 75+% over 15 years. This batch is 10%

  19. October 22, 2015 8:21 am

    Just noticed something in the top picture and have to ask. Are those purple bands/straps on Janes hind feet and what are they for?

    • October 22, 2015 6:08 pm

      Ned, we were wondering if anyone would notice and ask, so far you are the first one. It’s vetrap bandaging tape around her dewclaws to hopefully prevent any teat or udder injuries upon rising. Jane’s udder is a little low, and I was worried with calving congestion and her udder being so large she might cut her bag. Usually it’s the dewclaws that rip a teat or cut the udder not stepping on it. Her congestion cleared really fast this freshening so she only had to wear the vetrap for a day or two. Sharp eye!

  20. October 25, 2015 9:43 pm

    O Nina, I’m sorry, I sympathise, we are in a similar position with our first cow Bella, who has now had two dead calves and terrible edema, as well as constant mastitis problems and a tendency to kick when milked…. apart from that she’s a lovely cow 🙂 We are currently “considering her future” on our farm, but as she’s rearing a foster calf, she is temporarily safe, then we are faced with the same terrible decision, it doesn’t seem fair to breed her again knowing the likely result, a waste not to eat her, but I don’t think I could, possibly she will have to just fertilise the paddock…. I just try not to think about it. Nothing I read about house cows prepared me for this eventuality. I hope for a better outcome for Jane…

    • October 25, 2015 9:45 pm

      Oops, sorry about the typo on your name! I hope your leg improves soon too 🙂

  21. October 26, 2015 5:12 am

    Congratulations on the new baby. Jane is such a trooper and the calf is beautiful. I especially like his head markings. I hope your knee improves. I’m sure you find such injuries as frustrating as I do. Take care, love. xx

  22. Keira permalink
    November 1, 2015 5:05 pm

    Thank you for sharing the details of this birth. Just had a first-time heifer in labor and saw that the first bag did not look right; it had the buttons on it. Then I saw her push out the true water bag and knew from your story I had to get on this. Called the boss for prompt help and we pulled a live bull calf. As the boss was reaching inside for the feet, which weren’t far, more cotyledons were coming out. Most likely the calf would have suffocated.

    Hope Raylan and Jane continue to do well and that you figure out a workable option for Jane.

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