Before I went home last night I walked through pen five, just as I usually do. Pen five houses our close-up cows. “Close-up” meaning they are close to their due date to give birth. I didn’t see any new calves or cows in labor, but I did see that Etta, our blog cow, looked almost ready.
She is due August 7th, and I could tell her udder was starting to swell with milk. She was chewing her cud contentedly enough, so I patted her head and just wondered as I walked back up through the barn.
When I got to the farm this morning, I saw “3337 – Heifer” written on the calf board. Once again, Etta managed to have her baby at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning so I missed the whole thing!
Baby looked sleek and happy when I went to double check that she was indeed a girl. (She was.)
She looks very much like her mother with a black body, all black nose, and just a simple white triangle on her forehead.
Etta herself is doing well too. After calving, she got milked within an hour, and 1 gallon of fresh milk was fed to baby. We feed the calf instead of letting her nurse so we can make sure the milk is good quality and that the calf drinks enough.
Etta herself got two of these nice, green vitamin pills, plus calcium.
Calcium is very important because a cow’s blood calcium gets lower after giving birth. There are many stressors and demands on the cow’s body, plus lots of calcium goes into the milk she is starting to produce. Supplemental calcium and monitoring can be especially needed for older cows.
You can give a large calcium pill (bolus), paste, or powdered mix. If a cow is critically low, than a calcium IV solution is given.
Now Etta will move into our fresh cow pen for the next 30 days or so, and then she will move to one of the larger main milking pens for the rest of her lactation. On a dairy farm the term “fresh cow” is used to describe a cow that has just given birth, and “freshening date” is another way of describing the day she had a calf.
Baby got her ear tags this afternoon, and she was also hungry for a full bottle. Usually calves are sluggish to drink the second feeding if they drink a full gallon at birth, but not this girl!
Now we just need a name. Today happens to be my parent’s anniversary and my oldest sister’s anniversary, so I thought I’d pick a lovey-dovey name. But I couldn’t really think of anything. Besides — it’s much more fun to let my readers name her.
Etta’s first baby last year is Sophia, and now I’d love to hear your suggestion for baby girl number two.
I’ll pick a name at random later this month from all names in the comments. Thanks for sharing your ideas!