Surprise; Baby is Here!

And it’s a girl!

Healthy, happy, and eating well.

Late in the afternoon on August 1st, I came back from getting a needed part for the barn. I checked to see if there were any new calves, and I saw “3337 – heifer” written in black marker on the board.

At first I thought the number must be a mistake; Henrietta wasn’t due for another month.

So I went back to look, and sure enough I found Etta with a collar and pink leg bands.


The collar has a chip that the milking parlor reads to know which cow she is, and the pink leg bands alert the milkers that she is a fresh cow, meaning she recently calved. The bands will be removed in a few days once she is giving normal milk (instead of thicker, yellow colostrum for her calf) and her milk is ready to go into the bulk tank with the rest.

You can see she also has 8-1 written in chalk on her back. As we check the fresh cows for any problems and general health it’s nice to have this easy visual cue of the date they calved.

Now to the real question. Why was she so early?

I went to the computer to check things out, and I saw Etta was bred twice, once on 11/6 and again on 11/24. She wasn’t checked for a pregnancy until after the second breeding, so when we got this data and entered it the computer automatically assumed she was pregnant from the last breeding.

This doesn’t happen too often, but it’s not out of the norm. The veterinarian can’t detect pregnancy until after 30 days at the earliest, so Etta wasn’t ready to be checked from the first breeding. Then, she must have shown signs of being in heat (or fertile) and been bred again. Usually if a cow is showing signs of being in heat she isn’t pregnant. However, sometimes cows that are in heat are just bothering and following another animal, and so they will breed that other animal again just to be sure.

It’s an inexact science, this conception stuff. 🙂

Ultimately, because Etta had a good-size healthy calf, I assume she was pregnant from the first breeding. This would bring her due date up to 8/13, which is reasonable (especially since heifer calves tend to come early and bulls tend to be late).

I guess I shouldn’t even have even been so surprised. I thought her udder looked pretty swollen, as though her milk was coming in soon, when I took pictures of her earlier this week. I should have paid more attention.

I’m pleased to report that obligatory phrase, both mom and baby are doing well.

I’ll update more on Etta’s entrance to the milking herd as she settles in, but I’d also love to answer any questions you have now.

Baby doesn’t have a name yet, so I’m all ears for your suggestions. I don’t really have a prize, other than I will indeed use the winning name. Sadlebred can vouch for that, as she suggested the name Henrietta nearly 2 years ago!

I’ll randomly pick the name, otherwise it’s just too difficult. But before I ask for name suggestions, I should give you a better look at her.





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, Henrietta (Etta for short!). Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Surprise; Baby is Here!

  1. Rebecca says:

    What a pretty girl! I think she looks like a Lucy.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Hooray for a healthy calf! She looks like a Sophia to me.

  3. Nancy Lane says:

    She is a beauty!! Since you love both cows and running, what about naming her after your brand of running shoes? Mizuno, Asics, etc?? Kinda goofy but fun!!

  4. Heidi Nicole says:

    It doesn’t seem like that long ago that Etta was just a little calf!

  5. Terzah says:

    Very sweet! Does she nurse or get fed some other way (since you mention Etta’s milk will be going into the bulk tank)?

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