Greetings from windy, rainy, 50 degree Minnesota.
Even though the weather has turned rotten, I won’t let that dampen my excitement about our new “blog calf.”
First things first. What exactly happens when a new calf is born on the farm?
I’ll start at the beginning. As soon as we see a cow starting to show signs of labor, we move her into an individual pen. Someone will check the cow every hour or so, and most cows should have their calf within about 4 hours (or up to 6 hours if it’s their first calf) as long as there are no complications.
We’ll check the cow to make sure the calf isn’t backward or positioned wrong, and in certain cases we may need to reposition the calf or even call in a veterinarian if things are beyond our capabilities.
Those problems are rare though, and luckily the mom of our calf didn’t have any trouble.
Baby was born about 10:00 a.m. and mama cow 2093 licked and cleaned her off.
Some Basic Info:
Birth Date: Sept 20, 2011
ID Number: 3337
Height at withers (shoulder): 29.5 in.
Weight: approximately 90 pounds
Then, we dipped the calf’s navel in iodine to help clean it and prevent any infection. The mama cow went off to the milking parlor to be milked, and instead of going into the regular milk tank, her milk is diverted to a bucket so we can feed it to her calf.
This first milk is extra thick and a rich yellow color. It’s called colostrum, and it contains extra antibodies and immune-boosters the calf needs. We feed the calf instead of letting it suck from the cow so we can monitor how well and how much the calf drinks.
We move new calves to a hutch bedded with straw, and in warm weather they get a wire yard. It’s already cool enough that this baby doesn’t really need a yard. By the time she’s ready to move out of her hutch the yard could be filled with snow!
Then it’s time for feeding. We feed each baby 2 bottles (2 quarts each) for a total of one gallon of milk.
After the calf is taken care of, it’s important to document everything so we keep track of each birth.
In the computer, we’ll enter whether each cow had a heifer, bull, or twins. We’ll create a new page or “cow card” for each heifer calf. It includes details like their ID numbers, dam (mom) and sire (dad), and birthdate. This is also the spot where future events will get recorded for the calf.
Here’s our gal’s basic page.
And, here’s a look at baby’s mama. Notice they’ve both got a white heart on their face? Not all calves look so much like their mother, but this one sure does!
I also found that baby has one aunt in our herd, and she also has a sort of heart on her face. Family tradition I guess.
I’m afraid this is getting lengthy, so I’ll save some further updates for coming days.
The important question I have for you is, “what should we call her?”
I thought about naming her myself, but then I realized it would be much better to let my readers do so. Comment with your name suggestions, and I’ll pick one on Friday morning. I’ll probably just do a random selection unless there is a name that just seems to be the clear best fit.
And one more question for today. Some of you commented that it would be nice to read my full posts in google reader. I don’t use it much myself, so can you tell me what I need to do to make that work? Are my posts too long, not formatted right? Thanks for your help on this!
And here’s a few more photos of baby to help in your name selections.