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The 99th commandment - don't calve on slopes [pics]

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regolith

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This is the after photo, in which I am on my way back with the calcium to treat her milk fever and have remembered that there's a camera in my pocket.

123 calved yesterday. This is the fourth calf she's had for me and they've all been good calves born early in the calving season, so each time I've bred her back to Friesian for another 1/4 Jersey 3/4 Holstein Friesian calf. Her first heifer in four years!!!


Last year I had to pull her out of a mud hole late one night. But she looked steady all through yesterday, late last night, first thing this morning she was on her feet...
about four hours later I found her lying feet up. Now my normal first approach to this situation is to grab the cow's hind leg and roll her downhill, so her feet are under her and she can get up.
You can tell I'm a flat country farmer? I rolled her over and she kept going. When she stopped I'm like: "Okay, we do that again, but this time I stand down hill and catch you." It worked. But she was too weak to get up. So back to the shed for the miracle stuff.

The 100th commandment - don't orally drench a down cow. I break this one every time.
The 101th commandment - never make Calol (calcium chloride with banana flavour) runny, it's supposed to flow like glue. I break that one too. Dump the drench bottle in a bucket of warm water and the cow gets a higher percentage of the dose in a third of the time.
But it didn't work with 123. Usually if the cow is sitting up she can swallow. She licked her lips a little, but no indication of swallow reflex. She doesn't want to get up either. So I went away and did my other chores.

Her calf is just chilling out, the wrong side of a six-wire electric fence:


A little while later, all set to go check on 123

Every rope I've got, just in case. I've no hay, no grass silage to offer a down cow. If she can't rise and walk of her own volition, or assisted by the hip lifters, I'll be manhandling her onto that tray and transporting her to the longest grass I can find.

Still lying around when I got there, but she didn't fancy the look of the tractor

Just as well. I checked the handbrake on a bit of a slope on the way up there. There's no way I could have safely stopped the tractor where she was lying to use the hip clamps.

And off she goes.




First thing this morning, a Jersey heifer with a pair of feet and a nose out. The feet were so cold you could have got frost-bite off them.
Another hard pull, the second this season. One of those Jersey bulls running with the heifers last year is throwing some oversize calves.
All the negatives seem a little up this season - sixty cows in and I've assisted three calvings, 123 is the fifth to show signs of milk fever, bit more mastitis than usual, way more stillbirths, milking two cows now that calved 7 - 8 weeks early, another two were three weeks early.
Start of next week I've an experienced farmer coming in to help out for a few months. Reckon I'll tackle the farm's headgate again then - I have bought-in cows and heifers progressed to the milking herd with tags from their old farm, or no tags at all because I haven't got round to putting their new ones in. The second attempt to run a group through the headbail was even worse than the first as most of them balked at the sight of it and didn't even attempt to put their head through - but I did learn a couple more tricks about using it.

Some of you might have fogotten what winter looks like:
 

dun

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If we didn;t calve on slopes we would have to housebreak the cows. The only thing around here that's level is the house.
 

TexasBred

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Rego...what kind of feeding program do you have for your dry cows?? Grain, Grass, mineral, etc??
 
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regolith

regolith

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Hi TB - dry cows are on autumn-saved grass and some corn silage. I dust the grass with 100g (4oz) per cow mag oxide each morning when they get their new area. The farm looks not so bad now, but this was declared a drought area a couple months ago when that grass was supposed to be growing.

I know they need selenium - it's ordered. This is a new area for me and the advice on minerals I'm getting is so conflicting I can't make head nor tail of it, nor have I ever handled or fed corn silage to cows before. The dry cows get 10g/cow salt mixed with the silage, because I've been told they need it in this area, up to 30g for milkers.

I saw a lot of milk fever at the last place - previously (on farms I'd managed) I'd only seen about one cow a year, but Taranaki soils are known to be deficient in calcium and the area of farm I had to use for calving was sky-high in potash on the soil tests. Now farming in Central Plateau which I'm told is just as bad if not worse for mineral deficiencies.
Milkers are supposed to be getting drenched - mag oxide and any other minerals directly down the throat at milking. The guys who came to fit my drench system to the wall forgot an essential tool, and it's still not done. Two of the cows I've treated for milk fever were in the milking herd. In one case I'm certain it was probably because I hadn't got them shifted to a new break with dusted pasture soon enough after milking. The milkers get their 100 g MgO plus 100g limeflour (Calcium) dusted on the pasture in the morning, another 50g limeflour plus 30g salt mixed into the maize and fed at night.

I don't have much choice but to calve on slopes either, now. Most of the flat paddocks within half a mile of the shed are used for spraying effluent - high potash and likely to cause mastitis issues as well.
 
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regolith

regolith

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The excitement never ends...

Quiet in the calving herd today. One heifer with a bull calf when I left the house for evening milking. Walking round after feeding calves and there's another heifer with a heifer calf, 312 with a pair of feet out and 191 wandering around with her tail up. Finally - I've been watching 191 for days.

Loaded up silage to feed the colostrum herd and then back through the calving herd on the way home, expecting that 312 would have a calf and 191 would need checked later.
312 was still lying down, long pair of black legs and a twitching tongue - er tail as I bent to check the membranes were clear from the expected head. Checked the hocks - those were indeed hind legs and a tail. So I sat down to lend a hand, make sure this calf came quickly. After a few strains 312 stood up, circling back on me - wanting to eat either me or the calf so I let go and seconds later the calf hit the ground and I moved in with the intention of hoisting it to clear its lungs. 312 shook her head at me, and not being familiar with this girl's calving behaviour I decided to take her at her word - and watch the calf.
I didn't watch for long. The calf was opening and shutting her mouth, not breathing and tickling the nostrils/patting her chest didn't have any effect. I lifted her, heard her cough and gasp immediately and when I put her down she was breathing, within a few minutes she was sitting up.

It made me wonder. I haven't lost a potential replacement heifer at calving for a long time - I think number two might have had one two years ago. Till two days ago, I found 48 devotedly attending to a dead heifer. Might 312's have been a second if I hadn't been there?

I got a shock when I got to the house and saw the clock. I'd been having so much fun admiring my calves and fixing up bits and pieces and milking cows that I had no idea the middle of the night had come and gone - it was 1:30 am. The short answer is, I shouldn't have been there. Neither 312 nor 191 were showing signs of calving at a more 'reasonable' hour, so I'd have had no reasons to go back and check before morning.
I think I need to replace my torch battery before I go back out to see 191.
 

novaman

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regolith":7l5bf8pc said:
Might 312's have been a second if I hadn't been there?
It is my experience that backwards calves don't usually make it out alive if unassisted. Takes too long for them to get out and they take in a bunch of fluid before the head is out. This spring I had one die while I was in the lot checking other cows. One minute the cow was laboring with no feet visible, another minute the calf was out except the head. Typically we don't have many backwards calves but this past year we had 5 or 6.
 

Loch Valley Fold

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"I am confused on the milk fever. Do you oral drench instead of an IV cocktail ?
We don't drench, in fact that is something I've never seen or heard of doing for milk fever we buy sachets of cal/mag put them in a bucket or warm water to allow the liquid to warm up to blood temp than place the needle under the skin in a "do or die" situation where the cow has milk fever really bad we will put the IV straight into her vein & give her a least half a bag that way.
 

hillsdown

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Oh OK ,now I understand, sorry.. :oops:

I was just confused about the warm water and the calcium. I buy cal mag in ready to use for IV and keep them in my house or the heated shop at room temp so they are ready to go, but understand completely when you have alot of acres to cover in your herd.

Thanks for the pics, good luck with the rest of your dry cows. Sounds like you have your hands full but are fully prepared to handle anything.. :)
 

jilleroo

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I had a good "save" today too - was cruising around on the bike checking the calving heifers (charolais) for the second time today (they're in a holding paddock but its still 600 acres) and saw a white polled heifer on her side. She'd just pushed the smallish calf out but his head had caught on the butt of a big clump of mitchell grass. It was folded back under him with his body piled on top - a position he wouldnt be getting out of himself. I dived in and flipped him over, gave him a couple of puffs in one nostril and he was okay. I've seen this happen plenty of times when they're calving on rough ground. The heifer lay there for about 5 minutes, dead to the world, before she got up so she wouldnt have saved the little fella either. Some days things go your way - they're the good days!!
Good photos Regolith.
 

alisonb

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Looks like you are being kept busy. The whole birthing process never ceases to amaze me. If i have milk fever complications i inject Calci Tad 50 in the big vein just in front of the udder and hey presto. Do you use any milking hormone on your cows by the way? Best of luck that side.
 
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regolith

regolith

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I am confused on the milk fever. Do you oral drench instead of an IV cocktail ?

I use both - the oral drench has the advantage of sustained release. For a down or staggery cow I'll always use the calcium boroglutamate i/v or under the skin for fast recovery, followed by the calol provided she can swallow and hasn't got up and run away. For one that's just looking a bit wobbly or not quite right I'll use only the drench, every twelve hours till she looks sound - or sometimes make up my own calving drench because it's cheap and easy.
With the combined i/v and oral her calcium levels should be good for twelve hours. Before I started doing that I would have been inclined to give another bag under the skin four to six hours later for serious cases. But calol is a special product - the first oral drench I used was a generic calcium chloride oil and I could see that it was effective, but it also burned the skin off my arms anywhere I touched the oil/saliva mix. Goodness knows what it did to the cow's throat.

alisonb, do you mean let-down hormone, oxytocin? I've used it three times so far this year, don't usually use it so much. The vet came today to remove a pea from the teat of a five year old cow, and I used it on her tonight to ensure that quarter milked-out, before giving her an intramammary penicillin. Poor thing was milking blood.
The other two times were heifers that didn't let their milkdown. First milking I usually try to be easy on heifers - if they stand still with the milking unit on that's good enough. Often the calf has taken everything they've got anyway. Second milking I expect to see them milk fully as well as good behaviour.

Speaking of which, I now have a heifer called Prudence.
Thought this morning was going to go smoothly until she decided otherwise. This evening I'd decided at the first hint of trouble she'd have a leg roped up - but she'd evidently decided it was prudent to stand still and milk.
Now at 77 cows calved and one thinking about it. Have hardly seen a bull calf in the last ten days. 14 bulls out of the last 47 calves. Still seeing a number of cow-calf sized calves from the heifers.

On milk fever, I have the belief based, on the observation a couple years back of one cow, that they're less likely to go down if you can keep the food in front of them - not mineral, just plain nourishment. It's standard here that dry cows are moved to fresh grass in the morning and eat their maintenance requirement in 4 - 5 hours. A cow calving in the middle of the night is a long way off a good meal, and one that calved shortly after the shift is even worse off because while she's calving and tending to her calf - everyone else is eating. Her share.
 

alisonb

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No,not the let down hormone but the bovine growth hormone. It apparently increases milk production but at the same time increases mastitis aswell as reproduction complications.
 

KNERSIE

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alisonb":nszkj4y6 said:
No,not the let down hormone but the bovine growth hormone. It apparently increases milk production but at the same time increases mastitis aswell as reproduction complications.

Surely that's not legal?
 

TexasBred

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Loch Valley Fold":2fm479hy said:
"I am confused on the milk fever. Do you oral drench instead of an IV cocktail ?
We don't drench, in fact that is something I've never seen or heard of doing for milk fever we buy sachets of cal/mag put them in a bucket or warm water to allow the liquid to warm up to blood temp than place the needle under the skin in a "do or die" situation where the cow has milk fever really bad we will put the IV straight into her vein & give her a least half a bag that way.

Never had much milk fever but when the occasional case would pop up I always IV them with a bottle of Narcalciphos or CMPK followed up with a bottle of dextrose. I seldom used the big needle that came with the IV set but would use a 16 gauge as it was much sharper, easier to use and let the fluid go in much slower than the big needle.
 

TexasBred

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alisonb":1vusogg5 said:
No,not the let down hormone but the bovine growth hormone. It apparently increases milk production but at the same time increases mastitis aswell as reproduction complications.

Are you referring to BST??
 

hillsdown

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TexasBred":16zrxkit said:
alisonb":16zrxkit said:
No,not the let down hormone but the bovine growth hormone. It apparently increases milk production but at the same time increases mastitis aswell as reproduction complications.

Are you referring to BST??

Bovine somatotropin (abbreviated bST and BST) is a protein hormone produced in the pituitary glands of cattle. It is also called bovine growth hormone.

Knersie, it has always been illegal in Canada but is still legal in the USA, however I am pretty sure that with the consumer outrage over use of the synthetic hormone that most milk products are BST free now.
 

alisonb

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That is what i was refering to. I know it was being used a lot a couple of years ago by dairy farmers and apparently has lasting effects. No offence meant Rego but it seems strange that you are having so many complications-just trying to get to the bottom of it. :???:
 

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