Hypocalcemia, colostrum management, et al.

Hypo-what-a?

Before I get into that let’s take a look at the white wonderland, shall we?

During…

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And after.

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Tuesday night brought wind and a coating of icy sleet. Then the snow started. By Wednesday morning we were covered in 1/2 foot of sticky, heavy snow.

No, this certainly isn’t the blizzard of the century, but it is the most snow we’ve seen this season.

Of course we were supposed to be somewhere on Wednesday, but the snow created extra work and bad roads that delayed us several hours.

Once calf hutches were shoveled out and we were satisfied all was in order at the farm, we set off several hours south for an overnight conference.

In the winter months I think we could probably attend some sort of seminar once a week or more – on everything from milk quality to farm finances – if we had time. Honestly!

We don’t make it to many, but we really hoped to attend this event that focused on care and health of calves and new mother cows.

We finally got checked in as the last session on Wednesday was starting, and we got our fill of info on hypocalcemia.

It’s quite the word, but it just means low levels of calcium in the blood. People can be affected too, but this session focused on cows affected right after they give birth.

We talked about risk factors and prevention for the condition, and then went through signs, symptoms, and treatment options.

Every dairy is familiar with hypocalcemia, more commonly called milk fever, but it’s always good to hear the latest data and find out if there’s anything we could be doing better or different.

Wednesday evening offered time for socializing, which is always a bonus of attending an overnight event. šŸ™‚ We went bowling with the group in the earlier part of the evening, and I bowled 123 for the first game – not bad!

After that it was all down hill; I failed to break 100 in either of the next games.

After staying up way too late, I somehow got myself up for a few treadmill miles at the hotel on Thursday morning. The snow and hectic rush of Wednesday meant I didn’t run at all, so I really wanted to go about 7 miles on Thursday.

Yeah right.

2 isn’t exactly 7, but it is more than 0.

More info — and delicious breakfast and coffee — awaited us Thursday.

Colostrum, which is the thick, rich milk a cow produces after giving birth, is very important for a baby calf. Research shows that calves who don’t get enough colostrum soon enough don’t get the immune-boosters they need and ultimately may not grow as well or be as healthy.

Our system for feeding and monitoring colostrum seems to align with what is recommended, so I feel good that we are doing the best for our babies.

It’s amazing how much peer-reviewed, published research really does exist in the world of calf nutrition!

We also listened to a veterinarian (who’s also a professor at vet school) talk about cows giving birth. More specifically, he went through complications that can arise.

Normal calves come out front hooves first, followed by the head and body.

Sometimes back hooves come first, which is okay too. You just have to make sure the calf gets delivered quickly enough that she’s fully out and breathing within moments of the umbilical cord breaking.

Complications can include everything from one leg being tucked back or the head being turned back to a fully upside down calf.

Some of these problems can be corrected fairly easily with practice, but sometimes the best solution is to call the vet. I’m still getting more confident in my abilities in this area. šŸ™‚

All in all this trip lasted just over 24 hours, and it made for a rather late Thursday night at the farm when we got back.

It may not be the Caribbean, BUT we did go somewhere.

And it may take some extra work and planning to get away to family, social, or educational stuff, but it is still important to do sometimes!

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Did you get a “leap day storm” in your area?

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
This entry was posted in Baby Calf Care, Cows, This and That and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Hypocalcemia, colostrum management, et al.

  1. Heidi Nicole says:

    Ice THEN snow is the worst! You don’t see the ice until its too late you are slipping all around!

    I remember all the stress and worry that came with a breech calf or a calf with legs every which way! It was not fun, for anyone! I think it would be really interesting to hear about this stuff from a vets perspective!

    Great job on getting your treadmill run in, 2 is better than 0! And you’re better at bowling than I am. We used to bowl once a week and I still completely sucked!

  2. Sounds like you are ready for both vet school and motherhood!

    Our leap day storm was a seventy degree day with a few clouds. Sorry.

  3. Jess says:

    CRAZY how winter just arrived all at once! I don’t think we got quite as much as you, and still the days are unusually warm so I doubt it will stick around.

  4. Brit says:

    What an interesting post! I really like the informative cow posts!

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