April 2, 2011
What I Did Today
This afternoon, my husband's grandmother came out to the ranch. She and I each took a 4-wheeler to the calving pasture. We were going to take cow/calf pairs out of that pasture. While we were looking for pairs, I noticed one cow about to give birth. The amniotic sac was hanging out of her. I made a mental note and moved on. When we were done putting out pairs, I drove back to check on her. The bag had burst, and I could see hooves sticking out. I noticed the white parts (bottom side) of the hooves were up. This means the calf is either backwards (breech) or more rarely, upside down. This is a problem because the calf usually suffocates before the cow can get him out. I called over my husband's grandma and asked her to go back to the house to get my father-in-law. While she was gone I guided the cow to the barn. When my father-in-law got there, we chased the cow in through the back gate. She was almost in the barn when suddenly she turned around and started running towards the gate. I hopped off my 4-wheeler and swung the gate in front of her. She paused, giving me about a half a second to jump in front of her and lock the gate. She turned and ran back towards the barn. We finally got her in the pulling pen and pushed her into the head catch. I slipped some straps over the calf's feet. My father-in-law put the calf puller on her and pulled the calf as far down the bar as he could. A natural occurrence during childbirth is the release of maternal fecal matter. This is no different in cows. At one point, this cow squirted my father-in-law pretty good. I am laughing about it now as I type it. But at the time he told me to cover her anus so that wouldn't happen again! He had to manually pull the last third of the calf's body out because it was so long. Finally, the calf slid out. He was enormous. My father-in-law released the head catch, and the cow mooed over her calf. She liked him. She will take care of him. I am so proud of myself for spotting the backwards calf.