Memoirs of Calving

Tonight as we were looking back at our photos, I came across this documentation of a full breech birth.  This birth occurred on February 20th, out of a first time mother.  A full breach is when the bum of the calf is presenting first and it’s legs are down.  Without help this situation would likely end with the death of the calf and most likely the cow as well.

During our calving season, calving out 280 cows, we had 7 backwards calves and 2 full breaches.  This was the first full breach and the next one was born the next day (if you can believe the odds of that) and was a twin.

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Saving the calf in a breach birth only happens if you notice early that she is calving, but she is not progressing.  When this is detected she is brought in and physically checked to identify the presentation of the calf.

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It takes long arms, a lot of time and determination to bring the hooves and legs safely up for birth.  Skill is required to do this quickly yet not hurting the mothers uterus.  The calf hoof has to be covered with your hand while the hoof and leg are brought up into position.

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The chains have to be properly placed to not harm the calf’s joint.  Again speed yet sensitive timing is important for mother and baby’s health.

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For the next minute we make sure the baby’s is breathing properly, then give the calf and vigorous rub-down to stimulate the calf and then we let the mother out to connect.

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It is always a relief when the calf’s head is bobbing around and we can let the mother take over from there.


This is the last calf this shirt will ever pull.  Time for one last check of the herd and then clean-up!

~Erika Fossen~


4 thoughts on “Memoirs of Calving

  1. Terry Balisky says:

    You cattle people sure work hard. What a series to get photos of. Thank you for posting. What a reward to come up with a living calf. Thank you God for giving strength to both the rancher and his faithful wife and the cow and her calf.

  2. Nice shots! I can never convince anyone to man the camera and am not willing to give up being neck-deep 🙂 Thanks for sharing

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