On Wednesday (the 17th) our newest family member arrived, finally! This was Mercy’s first calf, and since she never had any outward signs of being in heat, we weren’t exactly sure when she was bred… and consequently, didn’t exactly have a good idea of when her due date was going to be. That’s all fine and dandy, but if you are like me, once the signs of impending calving start occurring, I’m on full alert. Again, all fine and dandy until the signs drop in one by one instead of all at once. Three weeks after the first “I think she’s calving soon”… we get our baby…. and I’m exhausted just from the wait! (Thank you Jesus for Ningxia Nitro! Holler at me if you’d like to know more about this particular YL product. It’s not an energy drink, but it does give you staying power without the crash afterwards…. and I’ve definitely needed that recently.)
I know, I know…. calves have been born for thousands of years without man’s intervention. True. But calves and cows have also died (and still do) without an attentive eye on the process. Usually, the event is uncomplicated, and we just give a thumbs up to the mama and a quick lovin’ on the baby. However, this time would have been one of those occasions where the calf would have likely died without human intervention. I’ve done this whole birthing thing enough times now that I hold my breath for about a week once the baby is born before I slowly start to exhale. I don’t consider a birthing process successful until I actually breathe :).
This little calf is a heifer (a female). Yay!! !She is a Jersey…. 1/4 mini, and 3/4 regular sized Jersey. Our bull is a registered mini Jersey, but he forgot to quit growing (he is 1/2 mini), so he is a standard full sized bull with mini genes. That said, he is very good about passing along his mini genes. This little girl weighed in at about 23 lbs at birth…. tiny for a calf. She was also born with contracted tendons in her legs, so the poor little thing couldn’t walk without major assistance for the first 36 hours. If a calf can’t walk, they normally can’t nurse….. and not nursing usually doesn’t end well for the calf.
We realized fairly quickly that something was wrong when she just couldn’t stand even 2 hours after her birth (Calves usually stand within the hour that they are born). We immediately went to work trying to hold her up so that she could nurse. Mama (Mercy) was confused and frustrated. The baby was confused and frustrated, and I was frustrated and worried. It was not the best of times. Finally, Mercy knew best, and bless her heart, she lay down not far from her baby…. milk streaming from her teats. I picked up the calf, and put her right next to her mama, close enough to nurse. It didn’t take a minute before they got the problem under control, and the calf got her important first meal in her belly. Then I scooted her a safe distance away from Mercy so that she wouldn’t get stepped on when her mama got up. For the next 36 hours, I picked up the baby and held her in a standing position every 4 hours so that she could nurse adequately. It took just that long for her tendons to relax so she could get her land legs under her.
Because she is so tiny, we’ve kept she and her mama in a paddock for the last 10 days, just until she got a little more weight on her.