Hey Y’all! Last time I told you about how I thought our Jersey cow Latte was in labor. I got her in the pen, and the vet came. I had been at the farm store, and by the time I got to the farm the vet was there, and he was working with vet tools in his truck. He said, “She’s ready to have her calf, so I let her out.”
I was thinking, “Oh no! You put her back in the field?” I responded, “I think she should stay in the pen.” And he agreed. I told him about a cut I saw on one of her teats and he had also seen it. He said that when their udder is so engorged, sometimes their dew claw rubs against their teat and cuts it. I passively-aggressively commented, “I was hoping that you would treat that.”
Getting Ready for a Delivery
His answer was, “Well, I’m kind of busy getting ready for a delivery.” Oh! He was messing with his tools not because he was leaving, as I thought, but he was getting ready to deliver the calf!
He had not let her back out into the field but had put her into one of our stalls to check her, and then let her back out into the pen. Okay. Now I get it. He explained that because he knew that I was concerned, as Latte had lost her last baby, he would go ahead and pull the calf out. We could have waited a couple of more hours, but then he probably would not have been available. So, since he was here, he decided to go ahead and deliver the calf.
He had a younger person (probably in her twenties. When you’re old and in your fifties, lots of people are “younger”) who was an amazing helper.
Yeehaw, Lasso that Cow!
I have a new respect for our vet. I didn’t know he could use a lasso and wrangle a cow, but I guess that is an important skill when you work with large animals! Thankfully, our cow has horns (she reminds me of Elsie the Cow who used to adorn milk cartons), so after several attempts, he got the rope around her horns.
I Got to Help!
He cornered her, and his assistant was holding the rope tight. I was watching in amazement and taking photos as he used a metal contraption to pull the calf out. At one point, he wanted me to help. I was more than willing to stick my phone in my pocket and do whatever needed to be done.
As they pulled, the calf’s hooves appeared. So exciting!
He had me hold the rope so his assistant could do other tasks. After a short while of putting tension on the rope, he looked over at me and said, “She will want to lie down to deliver, so when I give the signal, release the slack.” I was ready!
Latte had her head up against the corner of the pen, which is comprised of red metal tubing. It seemed like seconds. He didn’t even give any signal. She pushed, fell over, and the entire brown wet body of the calf slid out! The whole thing! Our poor mama cow just lay there.
We got her to stand up. She did not seem very interested in the new life she had just helped to bring about. There was hay spread about that I had been feeding the cows. Doc and his helper began taking the hay and rubbing it vigorously on the calf’s sides to get the blood flowing.
They were packing up, so he had me do that job. He also had me get some cracked corn and pour it on the calf’s body to get the mama interested in it.
What is interesting is that this cow, Latte, is very suspicious of humans. She knows me, and she’s a great milker. She goes into the barn with little to no fuss, and she doesn’t kick and is very compliant. But she doesn’t really like me to pet her.
So what we think was happening was that because we were there, and especially Doc and his assistant, who she really didn’t know at all, she just watched us. She literally stood there and watched us menacingly.
Doc and his assistant left. I went away as well to let the new family have some space.
Eventually, she started licking him and paying more attention to him. Especially when he started trying to get up and move around.
I was a little worried because he seemed weak and was having trouble getting up on his front legs. I went home and, finding some frozen colostrum* from another cow that we had in our freezer, I thawed it and put it in a large calf bottle.
After hurrying back to the farm, I offered the calf the bottle. He eagerly drank some of the colostrum.
Mama and Baby Well
Deciding that I needed to trust our cow and her instinct, I went home, determined to return in the morning to check on her.
I ended up going back a few hours later upon the urging of my husband, who was out of town for work. One of our neighbors commented that “Grandpa was not there for the birth of his grand-cow!” Peeking in the pen, the calf was drinking from Mama! So relieved!
It’s been about 6 days since the calf was born, and he’s up and about and even running and playful! And Latte is feeding baby and still giving us milk. The first five days it was actually colostrum. Today was the first day of regular milk. I’m pretty excited to be able to drink this! We have missed having fresh cow’s milk! Last year, none of our cows were pregnant, so we were unable to milk. Tomorrow I will have fresh cow cream in my coffee!
Now, to wait for calf #2’s birth. Our other Jersey, Tira (short for Tiramisu) should give birth in the next day or so.
*Note – Colostrum is a nutrient rich fluid that many animals and humans produce and feed to their newborns. Cow colostrum is thicker and yellower than regular milk and is full of antibodies and antioxidants to protect the new life as it is just beginning and growing. The mama cow makes colostrum exclusively for about five days. At our farm, we typically freeze this life-giving drink to use for emergencies such as orphan animals or babies whose mothers aren’t motherly or don’t know how to mother. Thankfully, Latte is turning out to be a good mother!