Saturday, March 14, 2009

Birth of a Calf

Well yesterday late afternoon was sitting here at the computer, waiting for a treasury west to open on Etsy. Suddenly plans changed, too many outside farm things were happening for Frank to manage them all at once, he came in to request help. He needed me to either: 1. Drive the outside cows into the inner corral for the night. 2. Walk the farm dog in training. 3. Do birthing watch for Keystone - one of the heifers (heifer = has not had a calf before, thus this is her first calving).

Well, no contest, grabbed the camera and headed out for birth watch. The hardest thing about birth watch is being patient and not intervening unless absolutely necessary. Also staying back far enough so the bovine is not upset by having a two legged present. An upset or tense animal will not relax, this can cause less relaxation of the birth canal/vulvar area, making it more strain on cow and calf. (TMI?)

Anyway, thanks to zoom lens was able to stand back and just observe and snap shots. Here is how the birth progressed.

----hooves showing, looks like normal placement, Ok so far. This stage takes awhile, the feet move in and out a bit - during this time the contractions are squeezing the baby's body, helping to get fluid out of the lungs. And the pounding of the calf head on the opening helps to enlarge and expand the way out. If the two legged gets anxious and starts pulling on the feet - the calf might have more risk of pnemunia with too much fluid in lungs and the cow might have prolapse of birth canal or tearing of vulvar area. So take it easy, let the birth progress naturally.

Nose is peaking through, still slow, you wonder if it is stuck, is the head huge or are the shoulders causing a block, does she need help now? No again, be patient. Contractions are regular, heifer is working hard, tiring but not exhausted, it has not been too long.

Oh this stage seems so long. Hold on... just wait...Remember calf needs the proper time in birth canal to get fluid out of lungs.

Ah, sigh of relief, head is out. finally

And quite soon, shoulders emerge.

Yay, has reached tummy level.

Yippee, hind feet, slide on out. Calf head is still covered by birth sac -- so some human intervention here. Set camera aside, and pulled sac off of face, open mouth and clear out fluid. Calf takes a first breath, wet, rattely, but air is exchanging. Mom cow (she has just gone from heifer status to cow), is pretty tired. Not up and licking, rolling, stimulating baby. So I take some straw and rub the calf's chest to stimulate it, and again help clear out the fluid. As soon as calf is shaking his head, breathing and pink, I back off again.

New mom still, not quite sure of what has happened, dang she is tired. Older, nosy cow comes by to inspect the newborn. Gives it a little nose lick, then she too backs off.

Ah, Keystone, is recovering from the ordeal. Rolling up, looking back. She seems to say: "Hey, man! that was not a big poop, there is something alive behind me. What the heck happened."

Resting, thinking.

What now?

Hey, it's calling me, calling me mom.

The arrival of another nosy cow inspecting Keystone's babe, stimulates Keystone to make it up on her feet.

This is my babe. Oh yeah!

Now the wash up and inspection begins.

Roll it around a bit. Get it breathing deep.

Lick it off, get it dry.

Keystone says: Yep, I've arrived, I'm a cow and this beauty if my calf.


FishStikks said...

What a fabulous story and awesome pics to go with it!

Thanks so much for sharing this, I loved it!
Gorgeous cows!

Midnightcoiler said...

I feel almost as if I were there! Thanks for sharing photos of the birth. Cute little calf. You are obviously very experienced with this.

My Mother's Garden said...

Wow! That was really interesting! Great photo pictorial!

Glorious Hats said...

Thank you all for visiting and sharing in the birth adventure. said...

GREAT Pics!!! Thanks for sharing this with us. I was just like we were all there!!!
Thanks Jane....This is a great story.

ZaftigDelights said...

Jane, thanks for sharing the birth of your new little calf with us. ~ Sandie

niftyknits said...

Jane, your captions really brought this story alive, thank you!

krex said...

So amazing Jane . Those first time births must be a bit confusing for the moms . Glad they are both healthy and doing well .

Waterrose said...

Wow...what an amazing look at the birth process. Thanks for the pictures and description!

Jaci said...

So cool to see this! I was just with my CA family, who were in the dairy business, so heard lots of stories. It was nice to see the sequence of shots you have here :)

Marie said...

Oh, wow, that's amazing. Thank you so much for sharing.

Nancy K. said...

WOW! I've never witnessed a calf being born. I admire your patience! Awesome photos.

Cheri said...

Amazing...thanks for sharing Jane!