Saved the worst for last.

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Aug 9, 2016
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Mason Dixon Line
Have two slightly older cows that have been late calvers for the last year or two. Trying to rebuild the herd after some hard culling the last two years and they were good cows otherwise so I held on to them. Got rid of several earlier this summer and these two were on the short list but there wasn't room for all of them on the trailer and these were obviously bred so they made the cut. I generally do at least a quick herd check every evening but was busy with hay last weekend and skipped a day. Of course the next day the oldest had a calf at her side, I half jokingly told my GF for as big around as the cow was and as little as the calf was there should have been a twin. Well, found it in the weeds the next day when I saw the buzzards circling.

So, then there was only one left to calve. Could tell over the weekend she was close. Checked yesterday evening, just before dark. Found her alone in a weed patch with 2 feet showing. Kept my distance and let her be. Checked again in a half hour, no change. Got stuff together for a pull (haven't had one all year). Waited about another half hour for my GF to get home from work, told her if there wasn't any progress we were going to have to pull it. There wasn't so I started her up towards the corral and got close enough to tell the feet were pointed to the sky... got her in the chute without much fuss and ended up pulling a dead bull calf out backwards. Removed the calf and let the cow out into a small half acre lot with a run in shed. Called a friend with a dairy farm and he had an Ayrshire bull calf born yesterday morning. Went and got it last night and put it in with the cow. She wasn't very impressed with it this morning and kept pushing it away. Put her back in the headgate around noon and got the calf to nurse. This afternoon they were in the lot together and she was letting it nurse on her own. By this evening when I gave her some hay and a protein tub she was ready to run me down if I got near the calf.

Just thought I'd share, this is my first experience grafting a calf onto another cow. I hope it continues to be successful and there can be a silver lining to the whole situation. I think not allowing the cow to smell or see the dead calf was a big part of getting it to work. I probably would have never even thought of, much less tried something like that without what I've learned on here.
kenny thomas":3nggc17b said:
Very good luck. I didn't realize there were any Ayrshire cattle still around. Hadn't seen one in 40 years here.

He likes to be different lol. Has quite a few Ayrshires and Linebacks in the milking herd. Some dang good ones too. Quite a few Holsteins and several Jerseys too which come from his wife's preference. Between the two of them they have raised some cattle with very good genetics that have done very well in the show ring. They currently milk about 75-80 head.
it ABSOLUTELY makes grafting easier if the cow hasn't sniffed her real calf!
I had one, same story, a leg backward, dead when I got it out.. I backed her right up the chute and held her in the pen, disposed of the calf, milked her for 2 days, then had a twin born at 2AM to a stupid momma.. I didn't fuss with her at all, took the calf in the shop and gave it a meal, went to bed.. Next morning I carry the calf up the chute to the one who lost hers.. she mooed at me and it was hers.. like "finally you bring me my calf!" Did a great job of raising it, she didn't LOOK like a freemartin but wasn't going to take the chance on the bad odds.

I lost a cow this spring, and grafted her calf to another cow that was easy to work.. she had her own calf as well, and she did fairly well.. lots of petting, but she was alright.. still preferred her own calf of course, and the orphan wasn't as bold as some milk thieves, so he missed a lot of meals. Survival rations is what it was.
Had my easiest swap ever this year - 1st cow had her calf and it died 24 hrs later, 1 day later another cow who I knew would have no milk this yr calved, I grabbed the calf as soon as it hit the ground and put it with the other cow, still wet. She took to it like it just fell out of her back end.

I had kept the low milker just incase I needed a spare calf, which i often do - timing worked well, then shipper her. First cow was with her own calf for over a day, before it got laid on, then she was without a calf for a day until the new one showed up.
We have also found that if the cow doesn't have a chance to get to her dead calf that it seems to be easier to get her to take a graft. If she has tried to lick it and get it to "come alive" or even if it was alive then died, I nearly always take it away, out of sight, skin the dead calf and make sure the new "graft" calf has had at least one bottle of milk from the momma that I want to take the calf, then put them together in 12 hours or so when the calf is hungry again. The cows are able to tell if the calf is "theirs" by the smell and if their own milk has gone through the new calf, the manure smells right.
And often, I get lucky and after not having her calf for 12 or more hours, many of our cows have taken a new calf once it gets latched onto the teat, with little or no fuss at all.

Since I have several jerseys and guernseys and crosses, I put extra calves on them and the best way is to keep the new calves I want to graft with the cows own calf, and let them all go on the cow at the same time and in a few milkings they will let them all nurse with a minimum of fuss. So if I have 2 fresh cows, their calf and the extra one or two will be kept in a separate pen so they all stay together and become like the bobbsy twins; I have one cow now that has her calf and 2 holsteins and I call them the 3 musketeers.... I bring the cows in to the stall twice a day and give them some grain and once the calves figure out that their milk wagon has arrived, they go right on the cow and we are set. Have had an odd cow over the years that didn't want to take a calf but not often.

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