Thursday, 25 March 2010

Lucy has a calf!


This is Lucy two weeks before calving. She wanted to lick the camera! Cows are very curious creatures.

Two days before calving her very round shape changed, see her sides are quite flat now?

From the side she even started to look skinny as the great weight of her baby weighed her down. All of a sudden, ribs were showing!

We kept looking at her tail, which would appear lifted quite often, and for dips on either side, which indicated softening ligaments. We were also looking for signs of swelling, redness and mucous.

And Lucy's udder began to swell up and feel firm. Her teats enlarged. These changes happened in the two days before Lucy calved.

After what feels like a very long time waiting, we awoke this morning to see that Lucy had her calf in the wee hours. I had to look up this site to show the children the happenings we missed!

Newborn loveliness

I had spent a lot of the previous week researching about calving because I didn't really know what to expect. On the one hand people told me, "Just leave her to it, she will be fine!" and the next minute someone would ask, "What will you do if she needs help?" I expected that she would birth the calf fine as she has before, but it was interesting to read about different things which can happen for birthing cows. I found a lot of information and valuable links on the Keeping a Family Cow forums.
Wobbly legs

So when I launched out of bed at 6.30am and raced in my cow print nightie and gumboots (sorry, no photos of that!) to see the new addition, it was such a relief. I spent about 1.5 hours in the paddock fixing up Lucy's shelter, fetching minerals and food, laying out fresh hay and observing Lucy and her baby boy.

Lucy after calving but before delivering the placenta.

When I came up to the house I called my friend and asked about the placenta and what to expect. My friend thought that maybe she'd birthed it and eaten it, so I stopped worrying for awhile. About two hours later I saw it across the paddock a bit and it was HUGE and gross! I left it there for most of the day and Lucy looked at it once that I saw, but left it. So I packed it up in a garbage bag tonight and put it in the shed fridge in a bucket! We are bringing home a foster cow, so might need the placenta for its (awful) scent yet. Since I don't eat red meat, I find placentas of any description quite horrible! Amazing, but yucky...

Lucy's placenta with the toe of my gumboot showing to see the size of it.

I was worried that Lucy's tiny calf could not latch on to her hugely swollen teats. I crept up to check how he was going and he turned to look at me with milk coming out of his nostrils. He later jumped about a bit, moo-ed ever so quietly to his mama and lay down for a nap. I haven't seen him latch on since, but he has a lot of energy and knows which end to find the udder at now. I'll be spending a lot of time watching him feed, pee and poo tomorrow, so that I know he's getting a lot of colostrum. I will have to milk Lucy out somewhat too as her udder will be over-full and he is only tiny, taking a small proportion of the colostrum she's producing. I believe I'll freeze it in case of a calf emergency of any kind...

Can you spot the calf in these photos?
This afternoon, Lucy took little Wag for a walk to catch some sunshine and hide from the humans. He was so well camouflaged and began to lighten in colour as he dried off!

So now Lucy and baby are asleep on the hay this windy, rainy night. Lucy is eating some grain and lucerne, she had molasses and a lot more calcium and seaweed supplements. I had been giving these to her in increasing doses before she freshened (delivered), so hopefully I'm on the right track there. Of course there's a lot of conflicting advice out there regarding bovine nutrition!

Soon we will hopefully collect the foster calf, who must be 2.5 weeks old now (a Jersey heifer). And so the story continues...


Alison said...

How much fun yo must be having!! I would love to experience this 1st hand as you have

Khris78 said...

Oh Bel what a gorgoeus calf, sounds like an awesome experience for you and all of your family.
Enjoy xox

daharja said...

How lovely - thank you for sharing this with us :-)

Leanne at Cluttercut

Kebeni said...

He is so cute. I bet she is relieved! Pity the kids missed it as watching an animal of any kind birth is fascinating. The placenta is massive, does it have the caul etc like ours do?

Ariad said...

Congratulations Lucy , Bel and family.
Very exciting!

Bel said...

Thanks everyone! Yes, Kebeni, the placenta has the same parts as ours by the looks, but it was so, so, so massive! I had to pack it up at night and put it in the milk fridge to bury the next day because she chose not to eat it. Eww!