BAD NEWS & GOOD NEWS
Everything was clicking right along on June 19th when a drive in my pasture revealed that my 3 year old 30A cow had a beautiful heifer calf, and then I noticed my 6 year old simmy cow 30X (30A's dam) had a set of twins....which was actually a little exciting to be truthful (at first). I saw that one of 30X's front quarter teats were almost swollen to the size of a yam, but not blown teat size, and so I opted to drain them a little to make it a little easier for the newborns to nurse. I checked for mastitis signs as well. Both 30X and her two daughters are milk machines, but not too bad. Yes, the colostrum was given to the calves. No harm, no foul.....or so I thought.
To shorten the story up a little. I arrived on Wednesday 6/21) to discover Momma of the twins (30X) was sprawled out on the ground. I called the vet, and after trying numerous times to get up, and trying a couple of different things with the vet, we weren't having success. It did appear that at least one of the calves had nursed her while she was down.
While working on the 30X cow on Wednesday, we also began trying to get the twins to take a bottle, as in my experience, a down cow usually doesn’t make it back up. The heifer nursing a bottle was a piece of cake, but the bull calf, who was a very aggressive nurser on his momma, couldn't get the nipple figured out on the bottle. We also brought the 30A cow and calf into the corral, and the twins thought they might try to steal a little from her teats, but that nearly ended in disaster, as 30A went after them. We ended up trying a goat nipple to see if that helped, but to no avail. THEN, I ran to the feed store and found a little black goat nipple that seemed to be more pliable, and slipped it onto a coke bottle. While we held the bottle for him, I started rubbing his butt to stimulate him to nurse as momma cows sometimes do, and the tail start wagging, and then he started sucking. I then switched back to the stiffer, but larger goat nipple with success...and ultimately back to the normal size calf nipple. He now had it figured out, and was hooked! Yeah for us!
I left the 30X cow that night under cover with food and water, and with the mindset that if I arrive in the morning, and she's still down, I would end her misery in this 90+ degree temp and heavy rain. This was not to be though, as she was dead when I arrived at 7:00... So, everything went smoothly with the twins for a week and a half. My beautiful city raised wife would feed them (now named Bubba and Sissy) their bottle each morning, and would then brush them, clean them up, wipe their butts, and love on them as if they were her babies. Essentially, she became their surrogate mother. She was even planning on giving them a bath over the next weekend. I gotta say it was precious seeing the two calves rub all over her affectionately like a cat rubbing on your leg.
Fast forward to 6/30, after the twins received their breakfast. I noticed a cow standing alone out in the pasture, so I drove out there and found that my 35X cow (probably one of my best PB simmy cows) was cleaning up a newborn, which was deceased. UGH! Not another dark cloud!!! Sooooo, then after I got my truck between the cow and calf in order to get it out of the pasture (cow was being very aggressive), I got to wondering if I could get one of the twins grafted to 35X (another good milk machine).
So the process began… We got 35X into my corral, and figured we would have a one time shot for success, so we took the dead calf into the barn with the twins, and suspended him from a rafter in the barn with a strap, and began to rub him all over both twins (didn’t know which one 35X might get attached to, so we did both)., and then drug the calf thru the alley into squeeze chute with the momma right behind it. We were keeping Bubba and Sissy away from the cow at this point, until we got them ready. We then took each calf one at a time to the cow and allowed them to nurse, which they did, and I got some of the cow’s milk and doused each calf from head to tail. Of course, all cows feel the need to christen the squeeze chute floor with manure, and this instance was no different. I then grabbed a handful of manure, and rubbed it on the calves, from head to tail. We then got an idea, which was to rub two wash cloths all over the dead calf, and put holes in opposite ends of the cloth, and then tied them around each calf’s neck like a bandana. Keep in mind that my wife had already groomed her little darling’s (Bubba and Sissy), and now they were covered in milk and manure and dead calf scent. Just as we were about to release them together in the corral, I noticed 35X urinating, sooooo I proceeded to the spot where she peed, and took two handfuls of urine from our already saturated mud and rubbed from head to tail on each calf.
Now the time of reckoning occurred, as we released 35X and the twins into the corral to see if we had made progress. BUT, the calves remembered what happed the last time they were around a big black cow, so they were a little scared of 35X. The two calves had full bellies, and just wanted to sleep, almost immediately laying down on opposite ends of the corral and going to sleep. By this time, my wife asked me to look up 35X’s name, as she wasn’t going to allow Bubba or Sissy to be adopted by a cow only known by her ear tag number, so now I will say that Daisy Star was intrigued by both Bubba and Sissy’s scent as she went from calf to calf, smelling of the cloth wrapped around their necks. I tested the water a couple of times by walking over to each calf, with Daisy coming to run me over each time! This was looking like we had a decent chance of getting her paired with at least one of the calves. A couple of hours later, with Daisy Star still going back and forth, checking and sniffing each calf repeatedly, Bubba stood to stretch. Daisy immediately walked over to him, and turned her body so that her udders were at his head. He immediately took to nursing her. After about 30 minutes of sucking and butting her bag, Daisy nuzzled him, and he laid back down. Woo Hoooo!!! It’s gonna be the bull calf she adopts!
A couple of hours went by, and we noticed that Daisy continued going from calf to calf. Finally, Daisy got tired of walking over to check on Sissy, so she literally bumped her with her foot, like a kicking motion (never saw that before!), and Sissy jumped up. Daisy then turned her body around, and now Sissy went to nursing! BINGO! Praise you Jesus! It looked like we stood a good chance of grafting both calves to Daisy!
So there’s my silver lining..! For those that read this post from beginning to end, aren't you glad I shortened it up?