Due to a WordPress glitch, the first part of this post went out prematurely and only half written. I apologize for any inconvenience!
Our second (and last for the year) calf came into the world this week. It has been, well, HOT lately (it is July after all) and the heat indices have been 100+ (38+ in Celsius) for several weeks. A storm every 10 days or so assures that the humidity stays high and the poor heifer – enormously pregnant for the last few weeks – has looked quite miserable as she waddled back and forth between the barn and the pasture.
So when she went into labor 10 days early, we were happy for her pregnancy to come to an end. We knew the calf was going to be a big one – this heifer looked bigger a month ago than the one giving birth then – so we assumed it would be a bull calf. Watching her labor and attempt to push the calf out, we realized she wasn’t far from distress, made worse by the high temperatures. She was laboring at the hottest part of the afternoon and though she was in a stand of trees, we knew she couldn’t labor ineffectively for long before it would become a problem, so we made the decision to move in and help her.
Here is where working with the cattle on a daily basis, handling them, scratching their polls, putting halters and lead ropes on and moving them around, really helped us. Some animals in labor want nothing to do with humans but this heifer, Star, seemed happy to have our help. We each grabbed a leg, and also used a hand to ease the head out of the vulva. it took the combined efforts – a cow and two people – four contractions to pull the calf free. Once the head and shoulders had cleared the birth canal, the rest of the calf came out in a rush of amniotic fluid.
The heifer took a short time to catch her breath before turning to see her calf for the first time.
Labor forgotten, she was ready to start cleaning off the baby.
Throughout this time she was relaxed having us there, but became anxious about the presence of the dogs – dogs she has known for six months and never worried about before!
Until now we had assumed the calf was a bull due to its size – it was a much bigger calf than Baby Rose, born a month ago. So it was with astonishment that we finally checked gender and discovered the calf is another little heifer! We couldn’t be more thrilled as, being Jerseys, a heifer is far more valuable to us than a bull calf.
Baby Daisy knew she had to get on her feet as soon as possible and it wasn’t long until she had gained enough control of those long, gangly limbs, to stand – somewhat shakily – and then take her first few steps. She started looking for the udder immediately and found it soon after.
We are thrilled that Star stood still to allow Daisy to get the hang of nursing. Sometimes first-time mothers are not as tolerant and try to move away any time the baby latches on. She is also being very protective. We are simply happy to have a healthy heifer calf, even though it means yet another cow to add to the milking rotation.