Wednesday, May 27, 2015

mama's & calves in the spring time

                All these baby calves and mama cows.  It is a beautiful, bountiful spring.
Prunella and her Bull calf  
Prunella and Labora are the star cows for now.  They are young, small, and doing excellent work raising their babies.  Out in the pasture yesterday, we looked closely at their udders and saw no signs of trouble.  All quarters looked even and overall their udders are not tight.  It appears that the their calves are nursing on all four teats and keeping their mom's problem free.  So we still have not brought either one of them up to the milk house.  That will come with time.  I look forward to interacting with them both.

Labora and her Bull calf  

Morgana's calf has perked right up and appears to have declared that he will LIVE!  He nursed on Morgana that morning in the holding pen after the previous night's dose of colostrum from Isabelle.  We sent him out with his mom that morning.  That evening we saw him alone in the barn but Morgana was soon there to feed him.  We watched him latch on to her teat independently and felt confident that they needed no more assistance from the humans.  The next day he was way out in the pasture with her, walking well and even running a bit with his tail in the air.  The little guy has embraced life beautifully. Morgana is a patient, attentive mother for him.  It is a joy to see.

Morgana and her Bull calf - SURVIVOR!  

I milked Sweetie yesterday without the kickers and without any fuss or bother from her.  She's really quite pleasant to milk on some days.  Miguel milked Whitney from her side (not behind), but still with the kickers on.  She will get used to us milking her eventually.  Probably...
        Isabelle is an interesting case.  I remain hopeful for her and her calf.  When her calf did not stand or walk much on his 2nd day, we brought him up to the yard to be cared for and fed by the humans.  Isabelle's udder is difficult if not impossible for him to nurse from.  She allowed him to remain with us without any protest.  That is unusual and not an encouraging sign for either one of them.  We fed him two more feedings with her colostrum.  One of these he took from a bottle and the 2nd one he was so weak that we used the tube and feed bag.
On his third day he still walked only a few steps independently.  Other calves that same age would be running and frolicking in the pasture.   We decided to move him out of the yard with us and to a place along the lane where he could be with Isabelle.  We kept feeding him with the bottle.
         Isabelle has been dropping huge amounts of weight and her bones are sticking out dramatically.   We decided that possibly she was terribly depressed and wondered if her colostrum was contributing to her calf's lack of spunk.  We fed him a bottle of milk from the other cows .   Ten hours after that feeding he was on his feet unassisted and looking a bit better.
           Yesterday we found Isabelle in the barn with her head low.  She looked really bad.   We walked the still improving calf to her and she came out of the barn and showed interest in him, mooing softly and licking him all over.  He took a bottle of milk from the other cows.  He had a strong suck and went after the bottle with a good appetite.  Isabelle looks even more gaunt now.  It is shocking how much wieght a cow can lose in such a short time.  Each one of her ribs are visible and her hip bones are clearly exposed.  We think the only thing that might save her now is being with her calf and seeing that he is doing ok, or better than he was.  We will not milk her anymore, allowing her to absorb and stop producing milk.  Hopefully she will start eating again and begin to reverse her decline.
       The depression part makes a little bit of sense for this particular cow.  Her calf was dead last year and she required miguel's physical assistance to birth it out of her.   I distinctly remember her acting incredibly depressed for a long time after this happened.  Is it possible she never recovered from that event?  Something made her udder grow to such unhealthy proportions.  Is this more evidence of some hormone imbalance?   I am eager to head out today and see how the two of them are doing.  We will continue to feed her calf milk from other cows and pray for the peaceful result that comes.
Isabelle now
Isabelle a few years ago  

Isabelle giving her baby a good licking  

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