April 5, 2012

Another busy weekend

This time of year is always busy, stressful, and I seem to always feel like my life is resembling the song "I'm in a hurry"!!  As of Friday afternoon this past weekend was shaping up to be much less chaotic than the previous weekend.  I made arrangements with a different vet to get 1 of our bulls re-tested (I got a whole post about pre-breeding exams), Mark had to do chores at his bosses so should be done fairly early Sat.  We brought the bull up to the yard and put in the barn over night so he was easy to get loaded the next morning and he gave us zero problems walking from the pasture, by a pasture full of cows and calves and he even navigated the yard and didn't walk through my garden!!  Sat morning got the bottle calves fed, the bull loaded, and since it all went pretty smooth I had time to go check cows for new calves with Mark before I left.  Checked the heifers and 1 was just starting to go into labor, we tagged a few new calves and checked the heifer on our way out 1 last time.  It was going to be a few hours before Mark or I could get back to check the heifer so I called the neighbor to stop by in an hour and check on her.  This is where the calm start to the weekend ends and the crazy takes over!!!!  I was just leaving the vet clinic with a clean bill of health on the bull when the neighbor called and said the heifer had not calved yet.  Mark and I both hurried home as soon as possible, which happened to be the exact same time....  We put the heifer in the chute to see if everything felt normal.  I reached in and nothing felt normal and after a little more searching I finally found the cervix, verified that it was dilated enough to give birth, and I even found the calf.  The problem was the cervix was not in the right spot and the calf while in the proper birthing position was not going to make it out without tearing the heifer.  We called the vet and in 10 minutes I was on my way to their clinic.  With in minutes within arriving at the clinic the heifer was in their "calving" chute and was being prep'd for surgery.  Another 10-15 minutes later there was a new calf on the floor of the clinic.  Turns out the heifer's uterus was twisted and was she not going to be able to give birth normally and the only chance the calf and heifer had to survive was a C-section.  We got the heifer all stiched back up, gave her some medicine for the pain and to help fight any potential infection and I was on my way home with both of them.  
A little hair cut and the area numbed and sterilized
before the incision is made.  This is very similar
to C-Section in humans (except for spinal block) the
heifer felt no pain during the procedure.

There are many small details that happen during the birth of a calf that ignites the cow/heifers instinct to be motherly to their new young.  If that is disrupted the cow may reject their new calf.  Not to mention the beginning few hours of a calf's life will dictate how well he will survive the rest of his life.  They need colostrum within hours of birth to give them the strength to live and antibodies to build a strong immune system.  As soon as we got the new family home we put them in the barn.  The heifer was as expected exhausted so while she rested we took over her job for a while to make sure the calf would survive and remain healthy.  We rubbed him dry with some straw and nearly clean (leaving some of the fluids on him will help her accept him), made him a bottle of colostrum, (and another dose a couple hours later), and put him in a safe corner where the heifer could see him but not hurt him as she stood back up again later.  By evening the calf was walking around and searching for dinner.  The heifer was starting to except him but wasn't too sure about letting him nurse.  We put her back in the chute and let the calf nurse were we could keep her from kicking him and where we could help him learn where the food comes from.  By morning the heifer was starting to love him more and was letting him nurse!!  We have kept them close to the barn for the past few days so we could keep a close eye on her to make sure she was back to normal and was not fighting an infection and to make sure the calf was able to get enough to eat. 

A few days post surgery.  She is healing well and
the baby is doing great!!
I wish I could have gotten more pictures of the process but unlike in a human hospital when you go to the vet clinic everyone is involved.  I was on tail and calf duty.  Tail Duty = keep the tail from swishing in the vet's face or into the incision (could cause infection).  Calf Duty = once the calf was out make sure he/she is breathing, get him/her sat up and keep him/her in a safe spot out of the way while the vet sews the heifer back up all while still holding the tail!!!  So my hands were a little full for more pictures....

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