If you are familiar with country music, you may have heard the song ‘Ticks’ by Brad Paisley. We had to rescue one of our cows from these creatures!!
On one of our many checks, we found a cow who had pushed her calf out to its ribcage but then did not get up and so the baby died. At the time my husband was very upset at the cow for her failure to be a good mother; which would have been to get up and start licking her new baby. Three hours passed and low and behold the cow laid down and had a second baby, a twin. This baby was healthy and alive. At the time we thought that she was very rundown because she had carried twins. We had to supplement her baby with powdered colostrum because the mother’s milk had not yet come in. It seemed very difficult for the cow to get up. Again we attributed this to her rundown-twin carrying state. The next morning my husband thought: Ticks! So he went out to examine her and sure enough we pulled around 200 wood ticks off of her.
The ticks we picked off our cow. The big ones are engorged with her blood and would be giving off their paralyzing toxin.
Some were engorged with her blood, which means that they could be giving off the toxin that causes paralysis! So, no wonder the poor ole girl could not get up easily! After the ticks were removed, we dusted her with an insecticide to deal with any that were left.
The cow and her beautiful baby. The white insecticide on her backline.
We had seen this a few years back, where ticks will attack a weakened cow. It seems the ticks put out a pheromone which attract more ticks.
After years of ranching, you have to learn from your past experiences to diagnose problems. It is satisfying when you can make the correct decision to save the cow and calf! The mother is quickly regaining her strength and her bouncing baby boy is doing great.
10 days ago we decided to bring all our cows and heifers into our calving fields, fields close to home and close to the calving barn. Like I stated in my last blog post we try and leave the pregnant cows out of the calving pen for as long as possible to keep the pens as clean and possible, this is very important to help decrease the chance for sickness and spread of disease. However, there were many cows showing signs of calving any day, so we thought we better not push it any longer and we needed to bring them closer. Good thing we did because that night we had a cow calve and we have been going steady ever since.
Since the 5th of February we have had 23 calves.
Knock on wood, but so far things are going extremely well. We have lost one calf so far, which is always so hard, it was a still born calf, so you never know what happened. We think that potentially because we have had crazy weather here all our snow is melted and we are currently left with ice everywhere we are thinking maybe the cow slipped on the ice fell and the cord got tangled or something like that happened. Those days are always the hardest because you try you best, but sometimes things are out of your control. Its hard to see that and deal with it, but it is part of the job too (the worst part, but a part none the less). On a positive note, the cow that had a stillborn calf is an excellent mother with a lot of milk, so we drafted our first calf (the premie, whose mom had no milk and still wasn’t producing enough to feed the calf). Now our calf has a new mom with plenty of milk to feed her.
Watching the heifers come in from the field.
The calving pens all filled up for another year.
The heifers checking out the shavings and their new pen!
The day after Erika Fossen posted about their first calf of 2016 we had ours! Our first calf falls under the category of a problematic calf that Erika Fossen described. All our cows were down away from the calving area on about a 75 acre fields where they were getting fed. We like to keep the cows off the calving ground for as long as possible to keep the area as clean as we can before calving. The cleaner, less manure etc the less chance for spreading bacteria and diseases among the cows. Things like the scours (basically like diaherra) can be spread through manure and picked up by another animal and potentially cause them to become sick.
Dad was feeding the older group of cows yesterday when he spotted something a little different… (cue jingle “One of these things isn’t like the other”.
One of the cows my husband and I bought last year had calved early! She calved in the field about a 1km away from the barns. My dad and husband brought her and her calf into the barn. The calf they pulled behind them with the calf sled and the cow followed. Once they got the calf into the barn they put her (a little heifer calf) under the heat lamp to warm up. We could tell the calf was a bit premature as the cow had no milk and the calf’s hair was a bit short. Because the cow calved with no milk that is a huge problem. The calf needs to get colostrum, the first bit of milk that is full of antibodies to protect the calf from getting sick. We just went to a calving clinic put on by our local vets and they explained that a calf is born with no immunity to disease all their immunity comes from their mother (the cow) in the form of antibodies from the colostrum and they need to get that colostrum within the first 6 hours of life. This is super important, so if the calf is not going to be able to get the colostrum, that is where the rancher comes in, we need to ensure the calf gets that colostrum. We had some frozen in the freezer from last year, not ideal, but better than nothing. The other option is buying it from the feed store in powder form and mixing it with water and bottle feeding the calf.
That was our job last night to unthaw the colostrum and bottle feed the calf.
Well 2016 calving is under way. Nothing like the first calf being tricky to keep you on your toes and make sure you are organized!
This is the bad mama who calved too early with no milk!
Macy and I arrived to help after she got fed, just on time to see them shut the gate after putting the calf under the heat lamp and the cow in the pen with her calf.
We were just having breakfast and the kids were getting ready to head out the door to catch the bus when I noticed three or four heifers all interested in the same patch of ground. Often when they do this, it is because a new baby calf has caught their attention. Older cows do not behave like this. When a cow calves out in a herd of other cows, they do not congratulate her or congregate to take part in the party. But heifers, or young females that are about to have their first baby, find other new babies SOO interesting. It is not odd to have 10 or more heifers come over to a newly spit out calf and sniff it and examine what it is! This is why we immediately, if not before the birth, remove the young mother and baby from the curious ladies. It can be dangerous to have that many curious wanna-be mothers all vying to take a sniff. So, Doug ran out and sure enough their was our first baby of the year.
It makes me so happy and thankful to start our calving this way; with a live, healthy calf, at the right time. Often the premature, twins and problematic calves come at the beginning of calving. These kind of calves take extra effort and care, and take the fun out of it. Hopefully all of them come as easy as this one!
This is the view from our dining table. The calf was out past the power pole.