A Calf is Born
All day Wednesday, April 11th, Buttercup looked different every time I saw her. I made myself busy with other things so that I didn’t bother her too much, but it was tough to stay away.
I finally went to bed at around 9:30, after my last check of the evening. Her bag was full and her pins as rounded as I’ve ever seen them, but she still looked like she’d swallowed a 55-gallon drum. Frank checked on her just before coming to bed at midnight with the report that she was up and down, uncomfortable, but nothing happening yet.
I woke up right at 2am and decided to do a check on her. A peek out the window on my way to the bathroom showed her standing up with her head stretched out. Interesting. When I came out of the bathroom, I peeked again. She was lying down.
By the time I had my shoes changed, she was standing up again. Shining a light on her from the yard showed that she was in labor with the amniotic sac bubbling out a bit, hooves showing at the top of the vulva. I could see just enough to tell that they were front feet, pointed in the correct direction. Whew! That’s one worry put to bed.
I went into the barnyard to talk to her a bit and reassure her, then tried to call Frank. No answer. Well, she probably could use a drink of molasses water anyway, so I hightailed it to the house, woke up my poor husband, and made up two 3-gallon pails of molasses water, adding three CMPK boluses to each pail. She sucked down the first pail right away and within minutes I could see that it had given her some much-needed energy.
She was nervous and kept walking away from me. I kept following behind, hoping the amniotic sac would break and bring the calf on faster. I’d been watching her labor for nearly 45 minutes and I was starting to get concerned. Should I break the sac myself?
Then the sac started elongating and finally broke off…and the hooves disappeared. Now what?
About three contractions later, the hooves were back, but she wasn’t progressing very quickly. She kept walking around, Belle in the background making “Momma moo” noises. Sweetest sound in the world! Finally she laid back down, the hooves out by about three inches. As Buttercup finally seemed content to have me at the back end of business, I decided to grab on and help out a bit.
After some heavy-duty pulling, the head and shoulders were finally clear. I took a breather through the next couple of contractions, then started pulling again. Once the hips were delivered, I let Buttercup finish things herself. She finally stood up, the calf fell free and momma started licking on her new baby, softly mooing. I think it was a member on Keeping a Family Cow forum that likened a momma cow’s voice to Katharine Hepburn.
BC drank another CMPK-laced pail of molasses water, in between bathing the baby. I finally got a couple of towels and asked permission to help dry the little one off. I was amazed at how accepting Butter was to all of this, as she was pretty jealous of her last calf and I was actually a little afraid of her.
It took until at least an hour after the birth to get Buttercup into the milking stall, then the challenge of getting the baby to nurse. She seemed to prefer suckling on my finger to taking the teat, but I would guess that we managed to get her to drink nearly a quart, as the hollow in her belly filled in pretty well. We got her better dried off, I milked about a half gallon of colostrum, which I fed back to Buttercup, and we’ve left them to rest.
Her name is Etta. Kind of named for my brother Harry, who’s birthday is close to the date that the calf was due.
Milking has been going really well and the calf continues to be hale and hearty. Methinks she will be our milk cow in a couple of years. Here she is the morning after she was born:
A couple of days old, hanging very close to Mom: