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!