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miracle calf

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Nite Hawk

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I tried to edit this story for size but couldn’t seem to shrink it down.. maybe some ideas of a better approach to over due calves or maybe someone out there might be helped..
We encountered something yesterday that I have not ever encountered before…
We had been waiting on “pins and needles” for our piedmontese heifer to calve. We fed her carefully—a decent amount of grain early on trying to get some size on her, and then cutting her off grain around the 6 months and then only decent hay and minerals and then grass, trying to keep the size of the calf down.
I wasn’t happy that she didn’t get as much growth herself, and we could see it looked like the calf was going to be a big one. According to other people that I know who raise piedmontese, they almost always go over the standard due day, from what I am told, about 8 days. This heifer was A.I. bred so we knew the date of the breeding, not like a fair amount of pasture breeding where you are not sure. Well this heifer went over, and hit traditional day 8 overdue and kept going. I was fit to be tied, and at day 12, I phoned the vet to ask advice. The vet we normally use was away, and the vet that was working suggested that we bring her in. As I prepared to hook up the horse trailer, I was informed that the U joint on the truck was causing problems, and it wasn’t going to work. Also, this is the long week-end here in Canada, so there would be no vets to be had till Tuesday unless it is emergency, and super expensive.
It was going to be $80 just to get the vet to look at her, on Friday and that was without taxes, and that was with us hauling her in to the office. If they have to come out---look out, you milage fees and if after hours emergency fees…( vets don’t come cheap around here)..
Anways- The bull we had used was supposed to be a “ heifer bull”, but this heifer who was due to calve,- her mother who just had her 3th calf a couple weeks ago, (we used the same bull on both ) and had gotten hip locked when she had her calf, So I was very concerned.
I was sweating and praying—serious, This heifer is very much like her mother, a kind gentle sweet tempered heifer, and I am not keen to lose her either.
She seemed totally healthy and fine, no distress or anything, so all we could do was wait..
Anyways, on Sunday we went to church in the morning and when we came back, and there was a huge puddle in the barn and a few stringers of placenta, so I knew this heifer was due to go into labour.
We put a halter on her and turned her loose and watched her for a while, she was walking around with her tail in the air, and finally after a couple hours she decided it was time to push. This heifer is very familiar and comfortable with people she knows, so didn’t panic when we came up to check on her. I checked on her and she had 2 feet sticking out—sideways though, instead of sole of the feet pointed down. I knew it wasn’t breech from the position of the feet so didn’t panic. The heifer was not inclined to push much though, and a couple times she got up and moved and the feet sucked back in. Finally I decided to see if a gentle pull might stimulate her to push a bit more, as that often works. I flipped a rope on the feet and gave a bit of a pull, and often you will feel a tiny bit of movement, however there was NOTHING at all. It was like pulling on a D8 bulldozer -not a bit of movement at all. I tried it several times, and still was like a solid rock. Family members told me to “just leave her alone- she will be fine”. I didn’t feel good about it, said so, and said—“I have to go in”. I went washed my hands and dumped some iodine water over my arm that I had in ready in a bucket “in case”, and went in the south end.. I went up the legs looking for the head, I went around and around and all over the place, NO HEAD. I pulled out and announced I couldn’t find the head, and tried again. Again NO HEAD. I am trying not to panic.
I went way in and could feel the cervix like a sleeve but no head. I have been in enough cows and sheep I know where the head is supposed to be. I have had enough sheep all tangled up inside with their feet back and their heads all over the place but NEVER a cow. I carefully tried to wiggle into the cervix and felt around, and still NO HEAD. By this time panic is setting in, I know there are basically no vet available, and the one fellow who had told me that he was willing to help if I got stuck, we were pretty sure he was in town ( about
50 miles away). Almost everyone I could think of was gone for the long week end as it was Williams lake stampede week end.
I thought of one on our neighbors who had helped me when this heifer had knocked one of her horns off, and we couldn’t get the bleeding stopped, so we took a shot in the dark and called him. He is retired, but used to manage a lot of dairy farms in the past, and it pretty knowledgeable. When I talked to him, he said he would come over. So back to the field, and while one family member held the heifer ( she is halter broke) a different family member tried to go in and find the calf’s head. Nothing..
The neighbour and his wife showed up, and he wasted no time. He went in and he couldn’t find the head either, and he is very experienced at this kind of stuff.
A 4-H leader appeared and was supposed to drop off a booklet for a family member, and stayed to see what would happen. The 1st neighbour said “ I can’t find the head it is bent back inside the cows uterus”. At the same time the calf’s feet were sticking out the vulva. The heifer had sucked the calf back in most of the way a few times, and the thought was to push the calf back in. the neighbour did push the calf back in a bit, but still no head. He said “ the only way you are going to get this calf out is with a C-section she is just too small and tight in the pelvis”. The 4-H leader said “ can’t we try to snag the head and pull it around with a cord or something” ? We were both thinking sort of like one does with a sheep, you push them back and twist the head around. The neighbour said- “no the head is twisted back- like right here” pointing to the heifers side. I said, “well is it time to butcher her”? not wanting to think either c-section or butchering her, but not willing for her to suffer either. The neighbour said she is so small in the pelvis area, he didn’t think we could get the head around or the calf out of the heifer. I knew it was big cause the size of the hooves were huge. We were standing there for a moment discussing what to do, and all of a sudden the neighbour let out a startled yelp and there was the nose peeking out of the heifers vulva and its tongue hanging out.
I don’t care what anyone thinks—the first thought that came into my mind was—“ that is a miracle- God moved that calfs head out, cause it simply was NOT there a second ago. I had my hand in there and that cervix was very tight, and there was no way that head could come flopping out like that.
Everyone sprang into action, chains and ropes were put on the feet and one person grabbed the head, and 3 started pulling, and I was trying to move the skin back away from the calf’s head. The neighbour’s wife was coaching a family member not to pull unless the cow was pushing so not to prolapsed the heifer, and they twisted that calf and pulled that calf all over the place and she came out. It was a HARD pull but she was alive and heifer sort of flopped over so pooped out she didn’t know what happened.
We rolled the heifer on her chest and showed her the calf, but she wasn’t too interested. the neighbour pulled the halter off so she could lick the calf, but the heifer got up, took a look at that calf and took off like shot out of a cannon. She seemed to think the calf was the source of the problems. ( well it sort of was ). We managed to catch the heifer and put the halter back on, and bring her back to the calf, but she was more interested in eating the hay we were using to dry the calf off. The calf bawled once and that got her interest a little bit, but she still wasn’t too interested.
Everyone left other than family, as there was a thunderstorm rolling in. Finally the heifer decided that just maybe that calf was interesting and started to lick it a bit. One family member brought a wheel barrow, and we loaded the calf in the wheel barrow and started for the barn leading the heifer close behind. We made her a nice place in the horse trailer because it was cleaner and dryer than the barn, and she started to mother the calf, and it finally got up and started to suck, so we left heifer and new calf to bond. We came back later to check on things, and she passed her afterbirth, and seemed ok. Later on we came for a last check and the heifer was having “bearing pains”, and was pushing again. I got her up right away which causes the uterus to fall down in the stomach, so they are less apt to push it out. I got a flashlight and again went in to see what was going on. She was so incredibly bruised and swollen it was causing the sensation that she needed to push something out.. I ran to the house and called the neighbour who was helping earlier. He said that normally after the afterbirth is gone they don’t normally prolapse. The afterbirth the heifer passed was “wash tub size” so was pretty sure it was all gone, but how to stop the swelling from causing her to want to push. The neighbour asked if I had some oxytocin, and I told him I had some real old stuff, he said give her a couple CCs,
it will cause the uterus to contract down so she wont have the urge to push. I said “ wow” “a couple CCs?? We used to give ¼ a CC to get a holstein to drop her milk on the dairy farm, and that a couple CCs was quite a bit.” He said “it won’t hurt her”. I had nothing to lose,
So I went out and put a couple CCs in her hip. The heifer got that sleepy oxytocin look and passed some more fluid, but it worked and fast, it seemed to shrink everything, and I never saw anymore attempts to push.
This morning they seemed to be doing well, and she is bonding with her calf. It was pretty damp this morning, - not sure if this is why, but the calf would shudder once in a while, so I gave her a selenium- e shot. They seem to be doing well now. Left her in to rest inside, as that was the roughest delivery I have ever seen as she needs time to heal up a bit. I was talking to the neighbour about how he had said the heifer was so small in the pelvis. He said he thought that if the head had not been turned back, she probably could have pushed that calf out, as her pushing the calf’s chest against her pelvis wall, may have inflamed everything tightening everything down. He said that position with the head back like that is fairly rare, and I have never seen it before. I have seen breech births on the dairy farm, but never a head twisted back.
I won’t be using this bull on heifers again either, the calves are “gorgeous” ( if you can call a calf “gorgeous”) but they are HUGE.
I was talking to a family member, and she said the same thing about the calfs head just “suddenly popping out and appearing”.
She said—“God helped, maybe we should call this calf miracle or blessing”.
The calf is alive and doing well and so is mama..
 

TCRanch

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Wow - and congrats you have a live heifer & calf! And I know what it's like to have a heifer take that first look at her calf & hit the road but I had to pen my pair together for a week before she'd acknowledge her calf so you definitely lucked out on that as well.
Re the "heifer" bull: My alpha bull is considered a heifer bull but he's boarderline. I've used him on my heifers before with no problems but he throws an average 75 lb calf & I really prefer 70 or under for 1st calvers. That said, the other half of the equation is the heifer/cow. Some just grow bigger calves. I recently had a 95 lb Oops Baby from a 17 month old heifer, 9 days over due and aforementioned alpha bull was the sire.
Hope your little mama & her miracle calf continue to thrive!
 

slick4591

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Most of your story is very familiar as my second pied bull calf was presented the same way only his legs were crossed, which pushed his chin upwards. We couldn't get him pushed back so at around 3am one morning I met the vet at his clinic. He called the calf dead because he couldn't locate a pulse and put off the c-sec until daylight when he had more clinic help. Around 10 that morning vet called me and said to come get the cow and her calf. Man was I surprised to have a live calf! The wife named him Miracle and I still have the cow.
 
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Nite Hawk

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The thing that was amazing was that head was definitely NOT there, and that cervix was tight, and I managed to work into the uterus itself and could not find the head and after 3 different people couldn't find the head and it just "Popped" and was visible and sticking out was truly amazing. I was in almost to the arm pit, and I have fairly long arms, so it wasn't just a little "stick your hand in a little ways", I was IN there and so was the neighbor, and the other gal.
After the calf was born, I think the reason she took off like she was shot when she saw the calf was it was definably not a painless pull with 3 people pulling on the legs and another pulling on the head, and she associated the pain with the calf.
She is well bonded now so we are happy.
Also, I have seen other cattle that have passed the afterbirth, and that have had "post calving bearing down pains " (even though they had been nursing which also releases oxytocin) and I did not know why it happened or what to do about it. But at least in her case it was the severe bruising and swelling inside, cause I looked.The oxytocin needle worked incredibly fast and well in her case. It is an idea to remember in case someone else gets stuck with no vet and a cow post calving that wants to start pushing again. NO one wants a possible prolapse.
If the problem is afterbirth it is possible that oxytocin might shift it loose.
We are just thankful and grateful everything worked out, To God and good neighbors that helped.
 

alisonb

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Glad it worked out for you Nite Hawk :D

I have used Oxytocin(very rarely) to induce/accelerate labor, assist with dilation of cervix, assist in controlling bleeding, afterbirth expulsion or have the cow 'drop' her milk...please tell me more about "it will cause the uterus to contract down so she wont have the urge to push".
 

Nesikep

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Wow, quite a show.. I've had a couple close calls.. One this year when leg was back, and another couple that were just huge calves on little heifers.

She might do well with a shot of dex/banamine if she's still really sore.. Keep an eye out for possible infection, there could be some tearing.

All's well that ends well.. glad to hear it worked!
 
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Nite Hawk

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Nesikip--I am not familiar with dex/banamine at all. I am pretty sure she probably had tearing, cause when she was "post calving bearing down" I looked inside with a flashlight and the insides were INCREDIBLY swollen all over the place and looked "like balloons" in there, and I could see bruising at the entrance. She was separated out for a couple days so she could rest and bond with baby and not be pushed around. She was given hay so she didn't have to get up and rustle for a living and seemed to be relaxed and like everything was "cool". She didn't seem to be suffering and when let her out seemed pretty normal. I know I have to watch for the potential infection from all the going in to check things out, but I did wash my "paws" and poured a bit of iodine - water over my arm. so far no discharge, just have to keep watching.

Alisonb---oxytocin is well known to be a uterine contractor, and in Canada is routinely given after childbirth. ( human) ( or at least was routinely given a few years back- to cause the uterus to contract down to prevent excessive bleeding -post partum.)
Oxytocin naturally occurs when a calf is sucking, but when the heifer was "pushing- after calving-" the calf was not sucking anymore and the heifer was laying down, and I am thinking that the amount of oxytocin that had been released when the calf was sucking was not enough to contract things down enough due to how rough the delivery was, even though we were trying to be careful when pulling. The neighbor who recommended the oxytocin used to manage dairy farms for many years, and was involved in A.I. back in the 1970s when A.I. was not as common as it is now. At least in this case it stopped the "urge to push" which I am sure was caused by the swelling--which caused the sensation that there was something in there that needed to be pushed out.
The neighbor said they used to give 3 CCs to the Holsteins, but they are pretty big cows. The ones I used to milk weighed in around 1500 pounds and some were bigger than that, and we used to use --1/4 of a CC to get a cow to drop her milk so it is pretty powerful stuff and wisdom must be used. I gave this heifer 2 CCs because she is smaller
I am not saying it will work in every case but it worked real well this time.
Also, I would not give oxytocin if it was not needed, but this time it was called for..
 

Nesikep

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Banamine is a painkiller, Dex (dexamethasone) is an anti inflammatory.. Especially good if they've had pinched nerves and are wobbly on their legs after calving.
 

Supa Dexta

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Didn't grow, calving problems and wasn't interested in the calf = Get rid of her.

And when feeling inside you follow up the leg, the shoulder, the neck..etc The head was obviously in there, and its pretty much guaranteed to be connected to the right spot of the animal. If you just put your arm in and start poking around you have no idea what you're feeling or where.
 
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Nite Hawk

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Piedmontese grow for at least 3 years, and she is only 2. also after about 20 minutes decided that the calf was interesting, and bonded fine . It isn't too uncommon for first heifers if it was a difficult delivery to be scared of the calf for a bit.
I have been in a number of cows and sheep, and my arms are only so long, and last time I looked I am not a gorilla with 5 foot arms, and I do know what I am feeling, and where they are supposed to go. That head was who knows where. Folded back along side the calf's ribs?? maybe. cause I found the chest but no head, and that was just about as far as my arms could reach... and I wasn't the only one who couldn't find the head...
I have untangled a fair amount of lambs inside sheep--heads all over the place, legs every which a ways. remember sheep have twins and when untangling you have to figure out which set of legs belongs to which lamb..
not a total newbie..
 

Nesikep

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I've had a couple that took a while to get the idea of what they're supposed to do with a calf..
The one that had a leg backward this year was uninterested in the calf when I got it out.. Then she figured she had to do some licking.. but she licked ME instead.. vigorously.. Then I left and she paid attention to the calf and licked it until it's back was sore!.. Been a good momma since.
 

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It's not uncommon for a new mother take awhile to fall in love with her calf after human intervention in the birth. Most times all it takes is some good quality alone time in a small space and instinct kicks in. Oxytocin can help here also to get the mother in the right frame of mind.
 
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Nite Hawk

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The birth was rough, and she had never had a calf before, so it took 20-minutes-3/4 of an hour, but she rose to the occasion and is "in love" and watches her calf well.
I had a goat years ago that never really accepted her babies the first time around, and only let the buck nurse because it hurts when so full. Both babies died & I was not happy.
She never ever did that again and was "right as rain" as long as I had her she took very good care of her kids every time., and that was a number of years.. I put it down to being young and stupid...
 
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Nite Hawk

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yeah, the one Piedmontese cow licked the "twist" of her calf so much she literally removed a fair amount of the hair.. not joking..
She hasn't been that determined this year, which is good..
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Glad everything worked out well. Always such a relief to realize you have a live calf!!! Wahoo!
Lesson learned. A heifer should be grown out well BEFORE she is bred. But, if not, you are better off feeding her & growing her. The little added weight on a calf is not as hard at calving time as much as a heifer not grown out to her potential. If you expect her to calve as a baby (which is what we are doing calving at 2 years old - I do all the time), you need to give her the nutrition for her to fully utilize her potential of growth. Feed more energy (like corn) than protein. I am NOT saying get her fat. I am saying, feed her to grow natural - and that takes proper nutrition. Much easier to get them where they need to be BEFORE they are bred. Then, good quality grass hay keeps them in good shape.
 
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Nite Hawk

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Nesikep-- you must have tasted good!! LOL She looks like she has a bit of limo in her?
Jeanne - Simme Valley-- when it comes to feeding cattle -the feed specialist at the co-op recommends high protein to grow them and then switch to a higher starch to fatten...
 

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