moving heifers just prior to calving

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dph
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moving heifers just prior to calving

Postby dph » Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:42 am

Wanted some of your opinnions on this topic. Had a heifer last night that looked like she was going to calf at about dark. Didn't have any reason to believe it was going to be a big deal, but wanted to be able to check on her later and get her in if needed. So we brought her up to the calving barn, and left her in a pen with the barn lights on, and the yard lot light on. She became incredibly nervous, circling the pen. After about 4 hours of no progress, besides her water breaking about half an hour before pulling (around 11), we pulled the calf. It was hard, she hadn't got the feet out, wasn't dialated well, etc. Once we got him out (around 70 pounds or so, easily should have came unassisted), she refused to claim him, so I think we have a bottle calf.

If she would have needed assistance, we wouldn't have been able to get her in, in the dark. Sometimes, though, it seems moving them to a new location makes them ancy and really throws them off. Of course now I am second guessing, wishing I would have left her alone. At least we didn't lose the calf. Any thoughts?
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Postby jkwilson » Wed Mar 08, 2006 11:05 am

IMO, the nervousness is just a sign of the impending calving. Antsy is a perfect description of it.
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moving heifers

Postby bigbull338 » Wed Mar 08, 2006 11:07 am

theres nothing wrong with putting heifers in a calving pen day or nite it doesnt matter.an it saves lots of stress of having to ck them.then trying to move them to the chute at niteso you can pull them.
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Postby jcarkie » Wed Mar 08, 2006 11:34 am

i have put them up at night and feed them so they will calve during the day.then let them out during the day for a few days and it seems to help some. but they still do the same thing circle the fence and get nervous.
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Postby dun » Wed Mar 08, 2006 11:52 am

Depends on the heifer. Some get pretty shook up being seperated from the herd. If you put a couple of others in with her she'll generally settle down.

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Postby msscamp » Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:47 pm

Putting mom in the chute and letting the calf nurse a few times will, more often than not, go quite a ways towards persuading mom to accept the calf. Just my thoughts.
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Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Wed Mar 08, 2006 1:31 pm

I would have done the same thing - only thing different was I would have put another animal in barn with her. They sure don't like being seperated from herd.
I would be persistant & make her nurse the calf in chute & she may very well come along.
Good luck.
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Postby randiliana » Wed Mar 08, 2006 2:09 pm

Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:I would have done the same thing - only thing different was I would have put another animal in barn with her. They sure don't like being seperated from herd.
I would be persistant & make her nurse the calf in chute & she may very well come along.
Good luck.


I agree. I would have done the same thing, but probably would hve put another older/calmer cow in with her. We had (what we thought was a quiet) heifer that tried to jump over the panels in the barn. She got her fetlock caught between two panels, and we think she broke something. Had to pull the calf too. She was lame after that. And I think that the joint fused in the end.

Lots of heifers will act as if they don't want their calf, especially when they have to be assisted, or if they get really worked up. Unless she is trying to stomp the calf into the ground, we will leave them in the calving pen together for 2-4 hours before we do anything with the calf. The heifer will usually have enough time to calm down and investigate the new "thing" and will almost always have accepted it by then. If she hasn't settled by then, then you can give the calf some colostrum to get him going, and then worry about getting her to take the calf. Put her in the headgate and let the calf suck. Tie her leg back if she wants to kick, and hobble her (hind legs) if you need to.
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heifer calving

Postby Dana Kopp » Wed Mar 08, 2006 3:36 pm

It is a tough call, you leave her out there and she has problems then you are dealing with it in the dark in the field or trying to get her up and in OR bring her in and hope that she settles in quickly and resumes calving and not destroying the corral or barn. Either way a live calf is the desired result.
Personally we try to leave our girls out to choose their "spot" and do their thing without interference. Main variables include the weather and if we have a pretty good idea that the calf is large, i.e. big feet showing and the time she has been working without progress. If we do have to bring them in often we try to wait until they can't "put it off". And we bring some friends for them. It makes a difference how your layout is and how easy it is to get them into the barn, their attitude/wildness and if they have been penned up before. The walking, tail switching, up and down movements all help the cow/heifer get the calf in position and moving properly. Restricting this, adding the stress of humans and the interruption of the general process, I believe, can really slow things down to the point where we pull the calf, possibly before she is truly ready to have it, just to make sure we have a live one (though I have to admit I'd rather have a slightly hurried live calf than any dead one). It is SO hard to watch them work and not want to help, or to think that things aren't progressing fast enough. Locked in our out in the field, we often make a point to look only at 15 minute intervals, get an approx time of contractions & rest periods and seeing how "hard" the pushing is if we are watching the whole time and absolutely making a point to look at the clock not estimate time. More than once we have guessed that 15 minutes have passed and worried when we weren't seeing progress when it was only 5 minutes when we looked at our watches. A watched pot never boils, a watched cow never calves...

A couple years ago we put one of our cows in the corral to calve because she was looking over the fences for a better hiding place a little too much and it was just getting dark (6-7 pm). She held off calving until 6 the next morning, every time we went out to check or even turned on the light to try to see from the house, she was laying down but would get up and pace until things went totally quiet. We finally gave up and went to bed and she had it without a problem. We didn't even consider pulling because we knew that she hadn't relaxed enough to try to have it.

My last heifer calved last night, I got home at 5 and the water had broken and the toes were just BARELY starting to show as she pushed. She was up and down tons and of course where she thought she should have the calf was right up against the fence where he'd shoot under the fence and be darn near on the road. I chased her away from that spot and luckily she didn't go too far. She was up and down some more and pushing hard, rolling on her side and then sitting up to rest and the feet were out just past the ankles for what seemed like an eternity and boy did they look big. She rested for a few minutes and rolled over and with two big pushes shot the calf out all at once - it was just before 6 pm. Man I love it when they go like that!!
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Postby Dana Kopp » Wed Mar 08, 2006 3:43 pm

Also,
Get some O-No-More - or some type of calf claim but this stuff works the best from my experience. Sprinkle it on the calf, get some on the cow's nose (or if she is close enough just let her sniff it on the calf) - it works wonders with "helping them remember" what to do.
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Postby Scotty » Wed Mar 08, 2006 7:27 pm

msscamp wrote:Putting mom in the chute and letting the calf nurse a few times will, more often than not, go quite a ways towards persuading mom to accept the calf. Just my thoughts.


I agree. That first poop is and ID for that calve IMO. She will know its smell.


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Postby opus » Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:49 pm

I think you intervened too quickly, and I am think you are thinking that as well. Seeing she hadnt feet out, in a normal presentation, and she hadnt dialated, are the first signs. People just love to jump right in and help. Which more times than not, can be the worst thing to do. This turned out well for you though, glad to hear it.

If she refused to claim it, which happens with heifers, and you tried your best to get her to and she still wouldnt. Load her on the truck tomorrow.
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