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A troublesome calf-birth doesn't go well

August 6, 2008

Up until today we'd had remarkably little problems with calving cows. With about 1/7 of the herd calved there were only two cases of milk fever and both of those cows had fully recovered by the next day. But calving season never goes without any hitches and today we had our first cow with calving difficulties.

We noticed her starting to calve in the morning during the rounds and expected there to be a new calf by midday. But by milking time in the afternoon she still had not calved and was looking a bit distressed.

Normally a cow will give birth within an hour or two of starting the process so this one was in definite need of some help. We took her back to the shed where it is easier to examine her and to give assistance.

With two front feet sticking out, the boss checked inside the cow and determined that the calf's head was in position so we attached some calving ropes to the feet and tried to assist the cow with her contractions.

But what a problem... for some reason the calf just wouldn't come out. This was a large 10-year-old cow who had given birth many times before so that ruled out her having any inherent physical problems that could prevent the birth from occuring. The calf had to come out or else the cow's life would be in danger.

Out comes the calf in this troublesome birth

We got there in the end but it was a lot of work and the cow will be feeling pretty sore and unhappy for quite some time. We gave her some calcium drink and an injection to keep her energy levels up but she was too worn out to walk back to the pasture so she has to stay in the shed for the night, with some hay and water to keep her going.

Rest and Recover

Unfortunately the calf was dead on arrival and it was a massive thing which explains why it didn't come out naturally. This is one case where the cow would have died during birth had this happened out in the wild - she's still at risk now so let's hope that she makes it through the night. If she's not up and walking around by the morning we'll have to get the vet out here first thing.

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