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