Oh boy what a weekend we had! Penny had her calf! Everything is great now but it was a rocky couple days. Everything has calmed down now and I’m so happy to share with you!
Saturday evening at chore time we noticed that Penny had started birthing. So I took the family home and I went back out to the farm to watch her progress and make sure everything went smoothly. As people go I know that it can take some time but apparently for cow’s not so much. Once their bag of waters breaks it’s usually 30 minutes or so until the calf comes out. Well I noticed a hoof sticking out at around 10pm. By midnight there still had been no progression although mom was still contracting.
I was chatting online with The Family Cow forum and then said that I needed to reach in and check the positioning of the calf. Find the second hoof and pull it out and then find the nose and pull it to on top of the hooves. That was scary but I did it. Problem was I couldn’t find the head. I followed the hoof in and found the second hoof pretty quick. Then I felt up the legs looking for a head, or even a butt. But it’s like the calf disappeared at that point and it was all jello and goo. I had no idea what I was doing wrong but I couldn’t figure out how the calf was positioned. I called the vet and told her the situation and she said she was on her way. Okay so it was an emergency. When the vet got there she tried to pull on the calf, then tried some contraption, and finally put chains on the calf’s legs and it took all of both of us to pull and shimmy and pull that calf out.
Baby was born and Penny was great. No tears and the doc said she had a smaller pelvis. Great…. She was a good mama and licked on her mushy, floppy baby. The baby was responsive and we discovered we had a little bull calf. He was breathing and doing fine when the vet left. I stayed and waited for him to work on standing and nurse. He didn’t. After a but I started to work with him. His front legs responded like I would expect of a newborn. Trying to figure it out but not stable. His back legs however weren’t responding at all. I was worried at first that maybe his spine was dislocated or something major. But once when lying down he gave a good kick with those hind legs so I was relieved. I got a bed of hay under some tree cover and left him there while I ran him to get milking supplies and a calf bottle. When I came back Penny was lying next to him. I moved him near her and got him to latch on for 2 minutes and then he was done. That was at about 5am. I milked the one teat I could get to and tried to bottle feed him. He wasn’t into the bottle and that wasn’t successful at all. But I kept trying for the next several hours. Rotating feeding him, getting him up to walk, and letting him rest.
I called my husband and he brought me more supplies and breakfast. He held Penny so I could milk her out and I tried again to get the calf to bottle feed. Nope. So hubby ran to the store to get a tube feeder. Meanwhile I kept working with the calf to get him standing. He progressively got better. I had the stretch him back hooves to be on the ground because he kept standing on him “knuckles”. But eventually his back legs started getting stronger and he started standing for several minutes at a time. Not walking but sturdy enough to stand. We got a quart of colostrum in him at about 11:30am and another quart in him at 1:30pm. We got mom and baby moved to a better pasture that wasn’t near a creek drop off and had more fresh grass for mom. We left them there to go to a birthday party and when we came back later that day the calf was in the same spot we left him. We tried to get him latched on to mom but he wasn’t getting it. So we tube fed him again 1qt at 10pm and my husband went out again and tube fed him a quart at 12pm. We got a gallon of colostrum in him within 24hours. I should have gotten it in him sooner but I didn’t realize that the calf’s stomach changes so quickly.
This morning the calf was in a completely different spot than where we left him and when I milked Penny her first two quarters were emptied. So we did chores and I posted on The Family Cow forum wondering if he’d eaten maybe. They thought so. So we didn’t feed baby again. We saw her nurse twice today and he can stand up on his own and walk around. Yay! What should have taken around 2 hours (birth, standing, nursing), took our little guy 30 hours. But he did it and for being an upside down breech birth we are thrilled to have a living calf and mother. Penny is a great mom. She milks like a pro and stands very still for me if she’s eating. And today while we were out there observing the calf and mama my husband built me a stanchion! I love it!!! I’m so thrilled and can’t wait to use it more! We made a few sizing adjustments and additions to the instructions we found for a smaller Jersey stanchion from this blog to fit our big Guernsey girl. But we tried it out tonight and she fits great! We have one more piece to put on the head gate and it will be finished. Thank you to my amazing hubby! I’ll try to get some better finished pictures in the daytime soon. And hubby is looking into putting a solar panel on the roof to run a fan, light, bug zapper, and plug for an ipod or radio! Sweet!