Last Wednesday we finally were going to have a new calf. We had waited so long for this calf. Cow is 652. In mid-September she started to develop an udder. And she developed a big udder. By the beginning of November it was gone. Had she lost the calf? To me she had, Larry insisted not. Larry's schedule didn't provide time to get her palpated. We brought 652 up to the pens after the cows went through ET on December 2nd. On the 9th when we flushed the Lowline cows and transfered we had our embryologist palpate her. She was in her last trimester and the calf was alive. Then along came Christmas, and there was something a little different in her. By the first of January it was obvious it would be soon, yet not the bag yet she'd had before. Then on the 9th her hip dropped out, normal for calving within 24-48 hours. 72 hours passed and still no calf. The night of the 13th she had separated herself from the other two heifers. She wouldn't come up for her ration. The morning of the 14th I raced out to check on her. She stood up, turned where I could see two little feet. See ya in about an hour. Well an hour later she was down and didn't get up when I drove right up to her. Two little feet and a tongue that wasn't looking so good. Partially blue in fact. I realized this was a Santa Gertrudis calf. She was exposed to Nova then to Charlie. Went to get Lynn, and told her we were pulling a calf. Off we went with rope in hand. I just knew I would be calling the vet. Well right there in the pasture I made the decision to pull the baby there. We tied the big cotton rope around his legs and I pulled. Five minutes later this one huge calf lay at my feet with 652 jumping to hers to look after her son.
I was so surprised he was alive. His tongue partially blue and swollen wasn't good. The meager amount of grain I'd given her over 10 days wasn't enough for this size of calf. This guy was just enourmous. We waited until he began to struggle to raise himself and then went to the house. After we got through feeding we went back to the back to check on 652 and calf (tagged #11). She was in the very same spot where she'd given birth. Not good, means he didn't stand. We went up to him and tried to raise him. That was a chore so heavy. Front fetlocks buckled and it took about five minutes of supporting him for him to stand. Even more not good. We load him in the back of the mule and move 652 and 11 to the pens. While with him in the back of the mule my fears were concerned he had not nursed. Mom and son now in the pen I quick call the feed store for a bottle and colustrum replacer. We run to town, return and mix the replacer up. He's having a hard time nursing the bottle, he relaxes if we have him standing and falls asleep if he was laying down. We manage in an hour to get 2/3rds of the replacer in him.
I feel hopeless at this point. I have a dental appointment the next morning, I have to leave. Lynn is taking me home and Larry and I are returning the next day.
When we return, I quick change and we both head for the barn. There is 11 just laying in the warm sun. I get in the pen, touch his nose, check his hydration levels. Everything is fair. He gets up, fetlocks are still buckling but not as bad. That 90 lbs is so hard to raise and get everything to work when gravity is pulling at you. I decide to watch while feeding. Larry is unloading a load of pipe and when he's done he walks up to see the new calf. I hear, 'My God, he's huge!' He watches as I keep working on getting the show cattle fed. Then I hear, 'Claude and I are putting 652 in the squeeze chute.' I reply, thank you! We had both seen 652 kick her son off when trying to nurse. After trying for about 10 minutes to get him to nurse Larry is frustrated. I went to the mule and got the bottle. Here put a little in and give it to him, then try again. It worked, 11 got really motivated about nursing. His second meal in 24 hours last 45 minutes with patience from the humans to help him out. Poor 652, it hurt at times. I felt for her.
Next morning I'm rushing to get to the barn. I again head straight to 652 and 11. I check him as I did the night before....whew better. He gets up and toddles off like a six hour calf, he's just under 48 hours old. I leave the pen to watch mother and son. He lays down again. Larry arrives and decides to put 652 in the chute again. 11 has no desire to nurse. Larry checks her udder. Right back quarter, no milk. He's nursed we think. Out she goes. 20 minutes we finally know for sure he is nursing without being kicked off. Whew.
That evening I took a of photo of him. He's beginning to act like a day old calf. See how everything works when it comes to trying out the legs. When I took the picture it was late in the day and cloudy.
From this picture until today, he has finally caught up. Like his mother he is as gentle as a lamb. 11 loves to jump and play. Will stay only a short while for a scratch, then runs across the pen hoping I will follow I guess. I'm not a cow.....
Here is what our little guy looked like last night. Big change when I look at the two pictures.
Tomorrow 652 and 11 go back out to pasture where he will have lots of room to run and play. Soon he will be joined by our 2nd and 3rd Santa Gertrudis calves. Angelica 03 and Jillian 02 are due to calve by March. Angelica 02 will calve by the first week in February, sometimes I think sooner. They prove me wrong all the time.