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"spring" calving off to a rough start!

Fire Sweep Ranch

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We started our Spring calving off to a wild beginning. Saturday was colder than usual, with wild wind chill negative numbers. Of course, one of the cows decided to calve early that morning. When I went out to check the cows, I saw she had her placenta hanging, and she was in the deep hay. I could not see a new calf, so upon closer inspection I found a half frozen calf! I was sure it was dead, frozen to death, and when I went to pick it up to remove it, it made a small little moo. I went into auto mode, embraced it to my chest, and ran to the house. I loudly yelled at my husband to draw a warm bath, and into the tub the calf went. After a few minutes, he started to make a little more noise (barely a "mawwww" kind of sound). I sat with him in that tub for more than an hour, moving the warm water around and recharging the water in the tub to keep it warm. He never moved, just made little sounds here and there. I was sure he was not going to make it, but I was going to try!


I put my finger in his rectum to try to tell if his core temp was coming up, since I did not have waterproof thermometer. This little guy was very cold inside! After I ran out of hot water (and got tired of being on my knees for so long holding his head up above the water), we moved him to our living room in front of a floor heater and on a dog bed. We rubbed him until I thought he was dry, and then rubbed him more! We also tubbed him with some warm colostrum.


Then we kept putting warm blankets on him, cycling them in the dryer (hot ones on the calf, cold ones warming in the dryer, then switch them out). I do not know why the picture is sideways, but you can see our Corgi watching over him, with him under blankets and the heater near his head...


After we got his temp up to around 98 degrees (we started with 92 when he came out of the tub), he finally started shivering, which was a great sign!

By the end of the day (and warm electrolytes at noon), we decided it was time to reunite him with his dam. He was able to stand, but not walk. This is our daughter spending some time with him, after we tried to get him to nurse.


I milked the cow Saturday night, and tube fed the calf. We tried to get him to suck, but he was a dumb sucker. Not only could he not walk (he would stand, and move backwards slowly, but had no ability to move forward or follow the cow), but he had no ability to move his jaw; he would allow your finger in his mouth, and he would hold it there with some suction, but would not move his jaw in the action needed to draw out milk. We went to bed, praying that he would make it through the night (it was still very cold, but we had him in the barn with a heat lamp).
Sunday morning, not only was he up, but he had walked to the other side of the pen! A huge improvement from the night before, so I was hopeful. Before going to church, he was looking around the udder, and pushing up on it, but not latching on or sucking. The udder was tight, so I knew he had not sucked yet. I again milked out the cow, got an entire bottle of milk from her before I stopped. Again, I tried the bottle on him but he would not move his jaw. So again, I tubed the little guy. And off to church we went.
When we got home from church, I went down to check on the new calf. I found out that the cow had knocked the heater out of the cradle, and a small, smoldering fire was burning in the hay/bedding! The calf and cow were standing on the opposite side of the burning hay, so I quickly got them out and cleaned up the mess.

About this point, every muscle in my body hurts from working this guy and milking the cow (I am getting soft in my old age!). Sunday night I go down to again try to get this guy going. Hard work pays off, because after some struggle, I get him to figure out that those little dangly things under the udder have a purpose! Once he gets a good latch on, all of a sudden the light goes on and he starts aggressively wiggling his tail and sucking on his own!!!!! I was so excited, I videotaped it!!!
https://youtu.be/__YyCMtvYJw

He weighed 54 pounds, and was full term (290 days gestation). He is sired by Upgrade, and his dam is a pb Grandmaster cow of ours. I am not sure what went wrong, other than poor timing of birth, but he seems to be doing well at this point. We have been blessed with many great calves so far, but this one has earned a special name here; Dumb Sucker. Yep, that is what we call him. Poor guy....
 

City Guy

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I'll ask again..What is the advantage of calving in January? February? March? in the Midwest?
 

Nesikep

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Lucky the fire wasn't worse!

Good job on bringing him back.. I'm familiar with it, though never to that extreme!.. I do know how it feels to try and get up after being hunched over for an hour

I had a cow have twins in the night once.. she only wanted the first one, and the second one was all lonely and confused.. I had another good cow I milked for a quart of colostrum and gave it to the calf.. it's neat to see how the light suddenly comes on! after the quart she bounced off to momma and got a good fill, and everything worked out.
 

TCRanch

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Wow!!! Well done! We've had some harrowing experiences during calving but none have involved fire. Please keep us updated on the little guy.
 

gizmom

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So glad it all worked out, not much experience with frozen calves so glad it turned out for the dumb sucker :clap: and so thankful you got home before the fire got worse, that was a God thing for sure.

Gizmom
 

SIMMGAL

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Wow! One thing after another! I'm glad it worked out for you though! It sure is satisfying to say you saved one, especially after all of that hard work!! Congrats!
 

Cibster

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Sounds just like my Wednesday night except you had a better outcome (and I didn't have a fire :)) My first calves weren't due till the 20th, but I already have had 3 so Wednesday night I got home from work and rushed out to check cows and saw a heifer laying down by the tin windbreak on the cold ground (not in the nice cornstalk bedding I had out for them) so I walked over to her and looked behind and sure enough there is a calf laying on it's side looking dead. Like you I thought for sure it was dead so went to drag it out and it made that "maaawww" sound. I picked it up and headed to the bath tub. It was hardly breathing at all and it had a white cloudy color in the middle of the eyes so I wasn't too hopeful I would get it to survive. Had it in tub for about a 1/2 hour and it would make a few noises from time to time, but breathing wasn't getting any better. It finally gave up after about 45 minutes. So frustrating. I don't know if it couldn't get up on the icy ground since we had a 1/2 inch of rain on Sunday and then single digits or what happened. I had a set of twins a week ago so am working on grafting one of those onto the heifer. Your story gave me some more pointers on what to do if it ever happens again so thanks for sharing! And good work!
 

angus9259

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City Guy":nc8crxa9 said:
I'll ask again..What is the advantage of calving in January? February? March? in the Midwest?


I for one will never do it again that's for sure.
 

FlyingLSimmentals

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Sometimes you win some and sometimes you lose some. It feels terrific when you win and saved one and terrible when you lose and lost one. I'm happy you won, dang good job. Be careful with those heat lamps. On a side note 54 pounds sounds a bit small for a purebred bull calf from a single birth but not unrealistic just figured an Upgrade bull calf would be heavier.
 

ClinchValley

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angus9259":31k47cxc said:
City Guy":31k47cxc said:
I'll ask again..What is the advantage of calving in January? February? March? in the Midwest?


I for one will never do it again that's for sure.

I'm not in the Midwest, but we do live in the mountain. This will be our LAST year of it! Holding him out until May/June.
 

Cucumber35

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My "spring" calving season is off to a rough start as well. Due to fencing issues as well as other factors the bull got left in with the herd last year. Our first calves were in early March last year and apparently he didn't waste any time rebreeding. We have one pasture that works best for calving but I hadn't moved them there yet and have been feeding in another that I plan in doing some renovation this year anyway so I've been using it as a sacrifice area. Put out hay this evening and drove down to find a cow that had gotten down into the creek and stuck in the mud. Had a feeling as soon as I saw her I was too late, she must have started calving last night and got hung up in the mud. Not the kind of "sacrifice" I had intended, needless to say the whole herd was promptly moved to the other pasture with no creek or wet areas. On the plus side my "birthday" cow had a nice lively bull calf at her side nursing. Hopefully my "sacrifice" will earn smooth sailing from here on out but I know that's not always how it goes. I should have trusted my gut because I knew some were getting close but I guess I was wishful thinking that calving wouldn't begin in the middle of January.... Hope everyone else's luck improves also.
 

Nesikep

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Cucumber35":2660xtrb said:
My "spring" calving season is off to a rough start as well. Due to fencing issues as well as other factors the bull got left in with the herd last year. Our first calves were in early March last year and apparently he didn't waste any time rebreeding. We have one pasture that works best for calving but I hadn't moved them there yet and have been feeding in another that I plan in doing some renovation this year anyway so I've been using it as a sacrifice area. Put out hay this evening and drove down to find a cow that had gotten down into the creek and stuck in the mud. Had a feeling as soon as I saw her I was too late, she must have started calving last night and got hung up in the mud. Not the kind of "sacrifice" I had intended, needless to say the whole herd was promptly moved to the other pasture with no creek or wet areas. On the plus side my "birthday" cow had a nice lively bull calf at her side nursing. Hopefully my "sacrifice" will earn smooth sailing from here on out but I know that's not always how it goes. I should have trusted my gut because I knew some were getting close but I guess I was wishful thinking that calving wouldn't begin in the middle of January.... Hope everyone else's luck improves also.
That sucks.. My "sacrifice' was a cow that gave me a new years present... about 100 days early and -10F.. can guess how that went. Knew something was up right away when she didn't chase the feed trailer.. she was busy keeping a few yotes at bay, but they knew they were going to get dinner even if it was going to be cold.
 
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