May 17, 2012

TWINS...Born 12 days apart!!!!

Nature is a very beautiful and yet mysterious creature.  Sometimes things happen and it really makes you sit back and scratch your head.  We had one of those moments a little over a month ago.  I had it in my to talk about bank but failed to sit down and write about earlier.  We were just about 2 weeks into calving the cows and and were getting quite a few new calves every day.  We hadn't moved the cows into the calving pasture yet so they were bring forth new life in the corn fields, which I think they enjoy a new nursery now and again....  Mark went out to check the cows in the morning before heading to his day job.  He found a new born calf all by itself in a secluded part of the the field.  Cows will often give birth, get the calf cleaned up, let it nurse and when it lays down to take a nap the cow will leave it to get water or feed.  They will often times hide their calves to help protect them from predators like coyotes and will wander off with in hearing distance of their calf's cry but far enough away to hopefully make it harder for the predator to find the calf.  So Mark didn't think much of it at the time and decided if the calf looked like the mother had not been back by noon he would take it to the barn for some extra milk and warm bedding.  At noon he found the calf nursing cow #615, mystery solved, he tagged the calf and went on about checking the rest of the cows.  A few hours later we he returned to check again 615 had given birth to a calf of her own and clearly did not want the mystery calf to nurse.  So off Mark went to find the real mother.  When I got home I found a mystery calf in the pen by the barn and seen Mark and the neighbor bringing a cow (#937) to the house. 
#937 pair.  The calf was giving me the "come a little closer and
I'll show you how fast I can run" look as I was tring to get a nice

They found a cow that clearly looked like she had calved earlier that day.  After putting them in the pen together for a little while the cow seemed to remember that she had indeed given birth and let calf nurse and started showing signs that she loved the little heifer.  WooHoo problems solved, no harm done and we got to practice our cow psychology.  After a few days we moved the family into the south creek pasture with a few other pairs and everybody seem to be doing just fine.  About 12 days later we were checking that pasture and noticed that the cow was consuming some fresh cleanings.  "Cleanings" are the after birth or placenta, often cows will eat the placenta because it is full of nutrients and although I have not and will not taste it must not be to bad.  We watched her for a few minutes scratching our heads as we were sure that she had cleaned (expelled the placenta after birth) and we wouldn't have turned her back out without helping her clean if needed.  Not to mention these were fresh as from a cow that had calved within the last 12 hours not 12 days earlier.  Her calf was sleeping beside her and everything else seemed to be ok.  So we chalked it up to the strange and bizarre things mother nature throws at us from time to time.  I think she likes to see if we are paying attention.  Side note - this pasture that 937 is in only has cows in it that have already calved no expecting mothers allowed.  This is where things really get strange.... 3 days after the cleaning incident I went out to check on the 1st calf heifers and at the gate going out of that pen into the pasture is an un-marked (not tagged) mystery calf.  Looking at the calf she looked to be a couple days old and extremely hungry, I opened the gate and we put her on the 4-wheeler and headed for the barn.  We gave her a bottle of milk and as I was ruminating over the chain of events that had transpired with 937 over the past almost 2 weeks things started to make a little since... strange since but since...  If she was carring 2 calves each in their own placenta her hormones would tell her that she was still pregnant after having the first calf.  Reason why she needed a little reminder about mother hood.  If she gave birth 3 days earlier to the 2nd calf that would explain why we seen her with fresh cleanings and would explain the new calf that was about 2-3 days old.  It all sounded a whole lot of bizarre, but biologically I could make some since out of the situation.
After doing a little research.  I did confirm that my theory was probably correct.  Cows can give birth to twins (may not be called twins, technical aspect) on different days.  Normally the cow will only ovulate from 1 ovary at a time, but if she had ovulated from both at the same time or released 2 eggs from the same ovulation (same ovary) then 2 fetuses could be resulted which could attach with 1 in each uterine horn. 
A-Cat, B-Cow, C-Horse, D-Human
The round "balls" are the ovaries, and they are at the end of the
uterine horns.  Animals that are more prone to having multiple births or
litters have longer horns to accommodate to extra fetus'.

Cows have 2 uterine horns and generally (normally) the fetus will attach in 1 horn and the other is empty till the next year when it gets a chance to be the baby calf home.  If there were 1 fetus in each horn they would each have their own placenta and the first calf can be born without harming the placenta of the 2nd calf.  Cows will produce milk in late gestation which explains why the 1st calf remained healthy and was growing normally.  I think my chances of getting bit by a shark are greater than witnessing a cow giving birth to 2 calves 12 days apart and I don't live any where near the ocean.  This will be one of those once in a lifetime occurrences that we will get to talk about for a while.  We are happy and thankful that all 3 of them are healthy and thriving because I know the survival rate of twins is drastically less than single calf births and I can speculate that the survival rate of multiple births on different days is even less than "normal" twins. 

The 1st twin taking a afternoon nap in the shade.
 I am not sure if this set of twins (we are calling them twins because it feels right) was the first set born.  The fist calf was born 4 days before the set of little girls and the 2nd calf was born 1 day after the set of little boys.  Maybe they can be first and last!!! 
Still pretty sure on our theory of what happened as we are down to the last couple of cows to calve and they are very much pregnant.  Which means that another cow didn't calve and the calf some how wander through the 2 fences that separated our pregnant cows from the cows that already calved.
Good news is twin number 2 did get a mommy who loves her very much after she lost her calf in a tree falling on calf accident.  Bad news that we lost a calf that is always taken hard and personal.

The 2nd twin (now know as #735) is hanging out by her biological mother.  Her adopted
mother was close by resting in the afternoon shade as well.

1 comment:

  1. We just went into our barn and found a twin horse born weeks after the first one. Daisy (Mom) keeps going away from it and I had to put the baby on her. This is new to us any comments from anyone/