Harrowing calving adventures

March 1 usually brings us longer days and some good heat from the sun. Mind you, it was -27 when I went out this morning!

Calves continued to keep me busy last week and as of today I am waiting on the last 10! I did run into some problems last week. I went to the barn at 2:00 a.m. to find a cow calving and the calf coming backwards. I called Dr. Stacey. I am very fortunate to have her live a mile from me. Backwards usually means you have got to get the calf out quickly or you run the risk of a dead calf. The feet looked plenty big, so we quickly got things hooked up to use the calf puller. Things went well, the calf came out quite nicely, but it was struggling to breathe. Stacey and I immediately started to focus on the calf getting some much-needed air into her lungs and within 45 seconds the cow prolapsed. That means she pushed her uterus out. Not a pleasant sight at all. This is the first time I have had one in likely 30-35 years. Though it seems like the cow will drop dead at any moment, you need to stay calm, keep the cow calm and keep the uterus clean. Easy right? We had to ignore the calf and hope for the best. At this point we thought the calf was a bull as it was fair size and quite boney. We had to quickly get something to set under the uterus to keep it clean. We had to get help because a cow uterus is not light. Stacey quickly gave her an epidural in hopes she would stop pushing. She ended up having three epidurals. My boyfriend/partner oversaw keeping the cow still. My neighbour came and helped lift the uterus once we were ready to start getting it pushed back in. Stacey worked hard to get it back in. It wasn’t an easy push and the cow was working against us for a while. We were all covered in blood, but things were back in place. The cow then gets stitched up so that there is enough room for her placenta to come out but that is about it. Then you cross your fingers that she will not try to push it out again. The good thing is, she loved her calf and as soon as we were finished, she was loving her calf which really helps to keep things in the proper place. We discovered our big calf was a heifer; we were all shocked. The calf had some strength issues in her front legs but that is all straightened up and the cow has done very well. I am a bit shocked as it wasn’t an easy process. They are getting to spend a little extra time in the barn and likely by the end of the week her stitches will need to come out. Once again, I am thankful for a good vet, and people willing to come and help; especially when this all takes place in the middle of the night. My twin cow that wasn’t feeling that well has picked up and seems to be back to herself. I am still supplementing the twins with bottles, but I think I will be able to cut back now. I am ending up with quite a list of cows that will been to be culled. I am also leaning heavy to heifer calves this year so maybe they knew this was going to be a big clean up year. My oldest cow, one that I would really like a heifer from had a nice little bull last night. I think she is trying to tell me she is good for another year.