Late Nights

The last few nights have been busy ones! I am doing the 11 o’clock check and before this week I had been having a fairly uneventful check. There were calves born, but they had been mostly unassisted and the only thing I have had to do was to drag new born calves into the calving sheds if the weather was cold or wet. Not this week. Two nights ago I went wandering out the calving barns and calving field at 11pm in my sweat pants I was tired and was feeling confident nobody was up to anything, boy was I wrong. The first barn I check is the heifer barn and sure enough a little heifer was calving backwards, so I had to call for back up, I called and woke up my dad to come over and give me a hand. Its funny how when you come out of the house you are so tired and all you can think about is going back to sleep, but then you see duclaws facing up (that means the presentation of the calf is backwards) and suddenly you get a burst of energy and are hustling around and then wonder how you are ever going to get back to sleep once you are done because now you are wide awake. We pulled the calf, but we ended up needing to use the puller (this device is kinda like a ratchet) it helps the rancher pull the calf out, when it is too hard to pull by hand. This ended up being a really hard pull and backwards are always scary because the umbilical cord can break and the calf’s head is still inside and they can drown, we got this calf out just in time he was gasping for air, a few more seconds inside and we could have lost him, but we saved him. That was a great feeling, a bit scary at first when he comes out whaling this head around gasping for air your heart stops for a bit.

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Example of backwards presentation

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This is what pulling a backwards calf looks like. This is the scary part when the calf’s hips are out that is generally the time the umbilical cord can break. At this point you need to move fast to save the calf!

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This is normal presentation. What we hope to see!

After, we got that calf out I continued on my check and I found a big older cow with the water bag just starting to come out, so I continue on my check, which takes about 30 mins and come back and she hasn’t progressed at all. So I went to the calving shack where Dad was waiting and we decided to give her 30 mins, after 30 mins went to check on her again and still hadn’t progressed, we decided to give her another 30 mins went to check on her and still nothing new, by this time it is 1:30 in the morning, so we decided to pull the calf. When I reached in there she hadn’t dialated properly because it was really tight and one of the calf’s hooves was pointed up so the hoof was poking her, so everytime she pushed it hurt. It ended up being an easy pull once we got the hoof in the right position.

The next night I went out to do my check and I went to the heifer barn first and there was a heifer starting to calve I could just see the tip of one hoof. I couldn’t tell for sure, but I was pretty sure it was a front hoof. I continued on my check , but hustled back because I wanted to make sure it was a front foot. When I came back to the barn she was trying to push, but only 1 front hoof was coming out. I let her try on her own for about an hour total, but one hoof must have been caught up a bit because there was only one front foot coming. I decided to pull the calf. Once I reached in a got the other foot coming straight it was an easy pull.

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Last night I went out to do my check and again I went to the heifer barn first and I could her gentle mooing so I figured somebody had a had a calf and sure enough a new baby was laying there and the new mom was licking her calf off. Great I thought to myself an unassisted birth. Next, I noticed a heifer stretched out a ways away, so I scurry over there and sure enough there were 2 feet sticking out and she is pushing for everything she had. So I quickly ran to the calving shack and got the calving chains to help her and pull this calf because at this point I have no idea how long she has been calving for and something must be wrong because she is really pushing.. That was a really hard pull at one point I thought I might have to call for help because I wasn’t sure if I could get it on my own. I ended up pulling the calf. It turns out the calf was really big especially for a first calf heifer. We breed all our heifers to low birth weight bulls, so their first experience is hopefully good, but sometimes weird things happen and this was one of those times, just a big calf.

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