Like the rest of 2020, calving season on the Grieb Ranch was quite memorable. It kicked off with pulling a calf… this happens all the time, nothing too exciting. Happily mother cow and baby are fine. Our next adventure began when we noticed a heifer straining to calve. We got her in and then it took three of us three hours and sore bodies to deliver a dead calf. The mother cow is now fine and has re-joined the herd.
Calving Season C-Section
Those two experiences were nothing compared to what came next. This story begins when we noticed a heifer kept going off by herself in the brush. We were detecting signs of a calf coming, yet we felt something was not right. So, after examining the heifer, it was determined that her calf was “mis-presented” – meaning the calf was upside down with its head and front legs facing away from the exit. Calling the vet was our best course of action. Then we patiently waited. With the vet arriving around 8:00 at night in the darkness, providing aid took place under the barn lights. The first course of action was trying to turn the calf, then pulling the calf was attempted, finally we realized cutting the calf out was the only option left to save the heifer. The vet performed a c-section to remove the calf.
We all got to watch and it was an amazing process. Fun fact: The vet put on 3 pairs of gloves to start the procedure so that at each new level of the process he had a clean pair of gloves. All ended well with the young cow, but not for her calf. The vet finished stitching her up at midnight.
Tiny Tim is the Star of the 2020 Calving Season
Fortunately for us, our young c-section heifer was introduced to Tiny Tim, an orphan calf we received from another ranch. He weighed all of 30 lbs when he arrived. Upon his arrival we tried to graft him to a heifer whose calf had vanished, but the relationship didn’t stick. Thus, Tiny Tim was available to be introduced to this young c-section heifer, their connection was like magic . . . or so it seemed.
Checking on the pair the next morning revealed the heifer had broken out of the pen and abandoned the little orphan calf. So, the little guy was tubed with electrolytes, kept under a heat lamp and Connie began bottle feeding Tiny Tim three times a day. But all was not lost for Tiny Tim, as a day later during our rounds of checking cows we came upon one with two dead calves at her feet. Tiny Tim was introduced to this cow and she has become his fourth cow mom and fifth mom including Connie with the bottle!
Calving Season Not to be Repeated
More good news for the young heifer c-section cow. We happened to have a friend that had twin calves. Calves and mother cows do better with no competition for milk. So our c-section heifer got a calf grafted on her. All new mothers and calves are doing great. We are thankful, yet still reeling from this difficult calving season. We hope to never have another one like it!