4 year old cow rejects 3rd calf

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Katpau

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The other day we were heading down to feed and check for new calves, when we noticed a cow up the hill all alone. We went up to check it out, and as expected there was a cow with a newborn. It was a little odd, because the cow was standing maybe 30 feet away and not looking at the calf who was next to a large fallen oak. I assumed she'd fed it and was maybe coming towards us looking for hay. Most cows will stay right next to the calf for at least the first 12 hours or more, so her not being close enough to touch it was unusual. We went up to the calf and could see it was still sticky and had gotten itself positioned along side the tree and corralled in by a large branch that coiled around from the trunk. We lifted her out, weighed and tagged her, and then moved her to the cow. Instead of the happy reunion I expected, the cow shoved the calf down. The calf was aggressively looking for a meal, but the cow would shove her away with her foot or head. After a spending a little time trying to make it work, we decided to take the calf up the road to the corrals and catch the cow and force her to feed it. My husband carried the calf down the hill to the road and the cow followed. A good sign.

Once we were on the road and the calf was back on her feet. The cow checked it out again and then took off down the road towards the corrals and the hay barn where we feed. I sent my husband off to catch the cow and I stayed with the calf. The calf was still in search of a meal and willingly followed me towards the barn which was maybe an eighth of a mile down the road. By the time we were at the barn the cow was caught and we put her in the chute and helped the calf find a teat. The calf worked all four quarters and I rather expected that once we let the cow out, she would realize her mistake and accept the calf. Instead, she knocked it down whenever it got too close to her. The cow was clearly uncomfortable and still raising her tail and pushing, so I let her out of the covered pen and into the small adjoining paddock. She went to the corner and delivered the afterbirth. We gathered that up and rubbed the juice all over the calf and then let her check out the calf again. She still wanted no part of it.

We left the cow and calf together in a covered 12' by 20' pen and went off to finish chores. A few hours later we returned. The calf came to us looking for milk, but the cow was still pushing her away and knocking her down whenever the calf approached. We put her back in the chute and fed the calf again. When we let her out we noticed the cow was still holding her tail up and acting like she might still be in labor. It had been at least 4 hours since we first found her and she had delivered the placenta but I wondered if perhaps there was still a twin in there. We watched for some time and she seemed really uneasy, so I put her out in the neighboring corral so she wouldn't step on the calf and so she might feel more comfortable to lay down and have another calf, if that was what was happening. Then we left for a while to give her some privacy.

We returned later and she was still walking around with her tail somewhat elevated, so I decided we would put her back in the chute and see if we could feel another calf in there. We both felt in there as deep as we could reach and I was pretty sure there was nothing else in there. While we did that the calf helped herself to her third meal of the day. My vet had recommended a technique for grafting a calf on to a cow. He said it was a common practice for sheep and worked great when grafting an extra lamb on to a ewe. Others had used it on cows with success. You reach into the cow or ewe, move your hand around and make a fist and then pull it out so the cow feels like she is delivering a calf. Then you take that jelly from inside the cow and put it on the calf.

We rubbed the jelly on the calf and placed the calf up by the cow's head in the chute and she started licking it and talking to it. We let her out and she began mothering it right away. She also quit holding her tail up and acting like she was in labor. From then on there wasn't a single problem. That calf was delivered at about 7 or 8 that morning and by then it was close to 4 in the afternoon. I have no idea what she was thinking for all those hours in between, but now she was mothering that calf like there had never been a problem. I have no idea why that worked, when rubbing placenta on the calf did not.

In case you are wondering. Yes, she is on the cull list for this fall. I don't want to stress about her in the future.
 
Humans aren't the only ones that sometimes don't 'get it right' after delivery.. Calving can be hard on a momma, even an experienced one and sometimes screws with their brain housing group.
I do agree she should be culled unless she had and raises an exceptional calf.

Good job on sticking with it even after momma had decided to give up.
 
Wow! Thanks for sharing and I'll have to remember that. I've only had 1 first calf heifer reject her calf and nothing else worked so ended up selling the calf (private treaty) and she took a ride. Well, I take that back. I've had 3 cows reject a twin but different scenario.
 
Her calves are about herd average at weaning. She does have a good temperament, but there were issues in the past that already had her on the cull watch list. Her first calf was also born in the morning and she brought it up with her for hay that same afternoon. We usually don't see them come down to the other cows for at least a day or two. It was a good thing she did, because we noticed the udder did not look sucked and the calf was searching, but would not get the end of the teat in its mouth. The nipples were a little long, but not by much. The cow was nice enough to let us walk up and put a nipple in the calves mouth. After that the calf seemed to catch on and there were no more issues that year.

The next year she also showed up in the afternoon leading a calf that we had tagged early that morning. She brought it right down by the corral, and remembering her from the year before, I looked her over closely. I did not think the udder looked nursed again. The nipples were larger than I remembered. We put her in and put the calf on her. The calf seemed hungry, so she probably had not fed it until then. When the calf was done, we milked her down, so all four nipples looked good.

This year her nipples did not look particularly big. The calf would not have had a problem had she let it nurse right away. The nipples never did get big, because we made sure the calf sucked within an hour of birth. I suspect she may have done this every year. That was why her nipples seemed large when we helped the first two calves on them. We never saw her make any attempt to kick or push those first two calves, but maybe that was happening during their first hours after birth, and we only saw them after she mellowed out and decided to be a mom.
 
I hate when this happens. We have a cow, Judith (named after the TWD character because they were born in the same situation, minus the zombie part)
Anywhoot, 3rd calf year. She spits her calf out, but wants another calf. Wasnt there when the confusion started, but, no one has time for this. Get her up and away from the 'month' old calf she thought was hers, and kicked away the brand new calf that looks just like her. Makes no sense that this could happen, but it does.
She's very gentle so we get her in a small pen to see what happens when shes with just her calf. Continues to push away and calls for the other. In this situation, and it doesnt happen very often with a cow, we'll lock them together and feed the cow where her head is in a corner. While they eat, if the calf is spunky, they can often nurse from behind while the cow is occupied with feed. If that doesnt work, we put them in a chute a few times, and if that doesnt work, hobbles.
Never had any luck smearing anything on a calf. In saying that, i always get a cow to take a calf that is one she thinks isnt hers or get her to take a graft calf. Hobbles are a last resort and have only been used a couple times in 45 years.
Getting a cow to take a calf is wayyyy different than getting a heifer to take one. I prefer handling a heifer..... cows are tougher.
 
Gone like yesterday. She will bring good money. Let the auction barn guys get rich on her.
This is what confuses me. I was told here not to raise our own heifers because i'd make more money picking up a bred cow at the sale barn and keeping her for 3 calves. I 'never' sell a good bred cow. If i do sell a bred cow there is something wrong with her from giving no milk, to just growing a crap calf (probably from milk problems or just genetic) Or she aborted a calf, stayed to get bred and we sell her when we get a chance to haul. Aggressive. Fence jumper. Old. I have sold one that kept nursing the cows..that made me mad, she went quick. We weed our heifers out by the time they are bred, sell if they dont get bred but thats almost none ever. We never sell a cow that raises a good calf.
This last fall heifers were bring almost nothing, no one had food.. So we kept basically half of them. Not sure how many, but over 60. We do not plan to keep them all to calving age, but will have them bred. Banking on people restocking their herds so we'll sell as bred heifers. Thats the plan, i DO NOT WANT TO BABYSIT THESE HEIFERs when they start calving, i want a year off. I say this every year. lol
 
Did you go back to the tree in the pasture to check if she had a twin somewhere out of sight? We've had cows have a calf and clean it off and let suck, then have a second one an hour later and not want anything to do with the first one.
 
This is what confuses me. I was told here not to raise our own heifers because i'd make more money picking up a bred cow at the sale barn and keeping her for 3 calves. I 'never' sell a good bred cow. If i do sell a bred cow there is something wrong with her from giving no milk, to just growing a crap calf (probably from milk problems or just genetic) Or she aborted a calf, stayed to get bred and we sell her when we get a chance to haul. Aggressive. Fence jumper. Old. I have sold one that kept nursing the cows..that made me mad, she went quick. We weed our heifers out by the time they are bred, sell if they dont get bred but thats almost none ever. We never sell a cow that raises a good calf.
This last fall heifers were bring almost nothing, no one had food.. So we kept basically half of them. Not sure how many, but over 60. We do not plan to keep them all to calving age, but will have them bred. Banking on people restocking their herds so we'll sell as bred heifers. Thats the plan, i DO NOT WANT TO BABYSIT THESE HEIFERs when they start calving, i want a year off. I say this every year. lol
Not sure. I said it as a joke. Lots of ways to do things. I don't buy auction barn cows but I'm sure some people are good at it. Then again, I don't babysit heifers either and I'm sure some people are good at that, too. 😄😉
 
With prices currently the only question is : do I let her raise the calf and the sell her and the weaned calf this fall or do I sell the pair now ?
 
Did you go back to the tree in the pasture to check if she had a twin somewhere out of sight? We've had cows have a calf and clean it off and let suck, then have a second one an hour later and not want anything to do with the first one.
If a cow has twins, she rarely sheds the afterbirth afterwards. It sometimes takes days. If i find a cow with a retained afterbirth, i know she either had her calf prematurely or had twins. Twins most times will have weird looking legs. Being all crammed in with another calf, sometimes at least one will have curved crooked legs. They straighten out, but, my last set of twins, one looked like he was used for a chair.
 
Did you go back to the tree in the pasture to check if she had a twin somewhere out of sight? We've had cows have a calf and clean it off and let suck, then have a second one an hour later and not want anything to do with the first one.
We did look that area over pretty close, just to be sure. I'm confident there wasn't another one anywhere.

She did seem interested in her calf when we were handling it, but every time she checked it out, she would quickly reject it.
There is another possibility. When we lifted the calf out from behind those branches, we went ahead and put iodine on the umbilical before weighing and tagging it. After I applied the iodine, I may have wiped my hands off on the calf. Perhaps she was confused because the calf smelled like iodine. I did try to wipe any iodine smell off, before we rubbed the calf with afterbirth, but she still didn't want it.

I really think that our feeling around inside and smearing the calf did something to trigger acceptance. She had been holding her tail up and straining like she thought she was still in labor. When we put our arm in and started moving it around she began to make that soft sound like she was talking to a calf. She lowered her tail and quit straining right away when we removed our arm. As soon as we got the calf covered in slime and in front of her, she began to lick and talk to it.

She will not get another chance here. I don't want to worry about a high maintenance cow.
 

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