Just when you think you’ve got animal husbandry down, you’re thrown another loop.
Last week our second Charolais cow calved on Wednesday afternoon sometime and when we went out Thursday morning our calf was found dead. We were all very sad. We had used an AI bull so we wouldn’t have the expense of buying our own purebred bull (they can be quite spendy) and have been excited awaiting our arrival of purebred Charolais calves.
Our first calf was a heifer and is now 6 weeks old and growing like a weed (actually, she’s huge). We check on our cows every couple of days, unless they are within a week of due date and then we check on them daily. We look for visual signs that delivery is near and often times move them close to the corrals in case they are in need of help (which in the case of our first cow was a good thing since we ended up pulling a close to 100lb calf).
Back to the story: That morning Brad had checked on everyone on his way out to work and called to say that RO3 (her ear tag number) had a “string” and thought we’d have a calf pretty soon. In my mind, she was still a couple days out since only a string with a bubble indicates delivery within a couple of hours. As Brad came home that evening he arrived announcing we had another calf and it looked like another heifer (we now have a little joke that he’s not allowed to tell me, because our first calf years ago was a heifer until I went out to find a little bull calf :). We all took a ride to the cows, less than 1/4 mile down the road on the the other side of our road.
Sure enough there was a little calf laying down as mom cleaned up her after birth (this is done for nutrition as well as cleanliness to not attract predators). Since this particular cow doesn’t like me, I stayed back with the girls as Brad checked again that it was indeed a heifer and that she had been up to eat. As we watched she was able to get to her feet and drink. Mom and baby were doing well.
The next morning was a bit hectic and I checked on cows in the early afternoon to find calf at the top of the hill that did not make it. As I was a bit ticked at the cow, I walked close enough to see that it had been their for a while, informed the girls and headed home, (Brad normally takes care of these things).
We were all pretty sad, especially because this would be the second calf she lost and economically you have to make decisions that a particular animal can not stay on the farm.
During the next week, we focused on pygmy goats and getting them ready for fair. So, checking on the cows involved making sure they had water and that everyone was there (3 cows, 1 calf). Until a couple of days ago when I went out I couldn’t find “anybody”! No cows, no calf. Fresh manure at the top of the hill assured me they were there somewhere, but they were not coming to my call and I had walked 3/4’s of the five acres (keep in mind a creek runs through with berry bushes about 12 feed tall, lots of willos etc.) I continued to walk to the back corner to find 3 cows and 2 calves. Hmmm?
Our heifer isn’t due until the end of the month and still looked “large”, so I circled to get the calf up and see who claimed her. Sure enough RO3 watched me and walked towards her calf as she then started to nurse.
I came to a quick conclusion that she had given birth to twins. Not sure of the rest of the details to her delivery, but at least we still have little heifer calf (and oh were the girls excited to hear that). So, my lesson is to “always” bring cows home. And though I’m very grateful we still have a calf, I still think “we could have had two” :).