Who doesn’t love babies? Baby animals, baby humans…if it is tiny, I’m going to squeel and need to cuddle with it. With that being said, baby calves are one of my favorite things!
Just look at this little sweetie!
This little girl’s name is Shadow. This picture was taken a few minutes after she was born. Isn’t it amazing that calves can stand up and walk almost immediately after being born?
There are a few things that we do to manage our newborns. After their arrival, they will be fed a gallon of colostrum. Colostrum is the milk that the mother cow gives after the baby is born. The mom is milked and then we feed the colostrum by hand to the baby by allowing the calf to nurse from a bag of pasteurized colostrum. If the calf is unable to nurse for an unknown reason, we will use an esophogeal tube feeder to administer the colostrum directly into the calfs’ stomach. Colostrum has a lot of extra goodies than regular milk. It has a higher fat content, more antibodies, higher levels of immunoglobulins, and the babies need the extra calories to get them going!
Here is what feeding colostrum is like:
This little girl’s name is Black Beauty. After they are fed, they are given an oral vaccine called BarGuard. They get a shot of Multimin (vitamins) and they get their naval dipped with an iodine solution. We will clean out a stall for them and give them fresh bedding for their new home.
During their first week of life they will drink 2 quarts of milk twice daily. When they reach 1 week of age, they will receive 3 quarts of milk twice daily. When the temperature drops below 30 degrees constantly, we will give them 4 quarts of milk per feeding after a week of age. All of our heifers receive an intranasal vaccine called Inforce at one week of age which helps build immunity to different respiratory diseases.
There you have it! That is how we take care of our precious babies on the farm.
This morning we had a cow with a stomach ache. This can be noticed by decreased milk production and cold ears. This directs my husband to listen to her tummy with a stethoscope. He listens to her left rib cage and taps it firmly. He then listens for what sounds like a “ping.” From doing this, my Dairy Man knows that she most likely has a DA (Displaced Abomasum). There are four compartments to a cow’s stomach, the abomasum is the last one.
We do not know what exactly causes a DA. The best preventative method is a well-mixed ration, but this will not prevent every cow from a DA. The easiest method to fix this is to have a visit from the Vet. A surgery is performed in order to move the displaced abomasum back into it’s correct spot inside the cow.
Here is a pic!
Not the prettiest sight, is it? However, this should fix our cow’s upset stomach. She will be able to get milked tonight, but her milk will be discarded due to the antibiotics she was given during the surgery. She was given a lot of pain medication around the surgery site and will be fully recovered in about a week.
What a sweetie!
On an unrelated note, this is what I brought my Dairy Man for a mid morning snack:
He had been working since 5 AM and wasn’t going to be home until dinner so I knew he needed it. 🙂
I had no idea what I had gotten myself into when I married my Dairy Man. Of course I knew I would love it, but I have found that I love some aspects of being his wife more than others.
I absolutely LOVE raising calves. I mean I would do anything for these little babies. I think about them when I’m not with them, I talk about them all the time, and I can’t wait to go down to the farm and spend more time with them. I am crazy about those little critters, but one especially.
Leonard (Lenny for short, and referred to me as “Lenny Benny Baby”), has stolen my heart from day one. He was born premature and couldn’t stand up for about a week. I would climb in his stall with him and hand feed him his bottle which led to an extreme attachment. He is so sweet and charming and I love spending time with him. Any spare moment during chores is spent giving hugs and scratches to my beloved Lenny.
The only bad thing about this situation is that Lenny is a boy. Dairy farmers make money from milk production and only girls produce milk. My Dairy Man only has enough room on the farm for girls (heifers), as milk production is their main enterprise. As a result, Lenny will leave the farm in about a week to be sold. He will get sold to a farm where raising boys (steers) for beef is their enterprise. I knew this day would come and I understand why we can’t keep him, but why did he have to grow up so fast?
I know he will have a great life with another farmer, but I sure will miss him!