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Bad things happen when you have animals

LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning ModeratorManitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,401 admin
edited October 2020 in Predators & Loss

We had a surprise this morning. It could have been good news, but it turned out that it wasn't.

We heard that one of our 3 jersey cows had a calf! Great news! But he was approximately a month early, and, he had died. Just a few days ago, we felt him move. We are unsure what happened.

The mom is still gently calling to him, and had cleaned him off. A bit of his hair was licked off (the skin must be fragile yet), & all of the umbilical cord is gone...whether that is from the cow or dog, we don't know. There was no visible blood right there, but maybe there is some underneath. We will be checking shortly.

We have no idea when it was born. Perhaps overnight or this morning. There is no sign of a placenta, but there was a little sign at her back end after we milked her a little bit. We don't know if it was expelled or not. So, we need to watch her for possible infection. We will milk her a little over the course of a month and dry her off.

We were drying her off already in preparation to calve next month. Today would have probably been our last milking day. Now, since she will possibly produce a bit more milk again, it will be more about maintenance & monitoring than anything, until we feel comfortable that she will be okay to completely dry her off and let her body recover.

I guess its just another day in the life of a small farmer.

We are hoping our other two do well. The one heifer is younger than we would have liked, and that could certainly pose an issue to mom & calf. The third cow is very old. She is a good calver, good mom & in good shape.

So we watch, wait & hope.

Edit: We determined that the calf was most likely stillborn and possibly had abnormalities considering some tooth placement.

I would rather find a dead calf than watch it die if there was nothing to be done. This is much easier to deal with.

So much crazy & busy is going on right now, that somehow this is just par for the course. We had a sad moment, but we have lots of other things that need our attention. The focus is now on the cow herself & other things.


  • RustBeltCowgirlRustBeltCowgirl North Coast OhioPosts: 501 ✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning So sorry. It's the thing that always the saddest.

  • seeker.nancy - Central Texasseeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 757 ✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning I'm so sorry for the loss of your calf. It is a painful thing when we lose animals, especially as newborns (for me at least). That is something people new to homesteading are not always told. Animals die sometimes no matter what we do. May the other two births go well.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,336 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning My sympathies. But as you say better to have it stillborn than watch it suffer only to die later. A few years ago we were looking after a neighbour's herd while he was away for an emergency. All of his cows calved while he was gone and all were healthy except for one with birth defects (improperly formed hooves and a lack of hair in several places). He wasn't able to get up and nurse properly, but we tried for a couple of weeks to save him. Unfortunately, it was all in vain and I'm sure he suffered before he died.

    Its always a tragedy to loose an animal. Part of farming and ranching.

  • @LaurieLovesLearning I'm sorry to hear this. There's always so much hope attached to a new life on the farm.

    I think it's harder to lose an animal unexpectedly than to raise one up knowing that it will ultimately become food.

  • FergFerg Currently United States, Appalachia. Previously Great Lakes, GNYMA, Germany.Posts: 290 ✭✭✭

    hugs. THere should be an emoticon for "hugs".

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,401 admin

    Thanks everyone.

    At this point, our focus is to make sure that the cow remains okay. We have never had this happen before and so are unsure how to deal with the cow in this particular situation. We decided to treat her as though she was full term (it was close) and so besides looking for any sign of retained placenta (which I am prone to think isn't an issue at this point), we are watching for hardness in the udder & watching for milk fever as we normally would.

  • ltwickeyltwickey Posts: 244 ✭✭✭

    I wish you much luck with the other 2 births. Death is always hard to take.

    Hope your heifer heels without complications.

  • bcabrobinbcabrobin Posts: 221 ✭✭✭

    We do need a hugs emoticon.

    Death is hard no matter when they die but babies are the hardest for me. We lost 17 chicks this year, yes I celebrate the ones that lived but sad for the ones that died. Even if they were meat chicks or a calf or piglet if they die before their time it's sad.

    Prayers for your others that they do well.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,401 admin
    edited August 2020

    @bcabrobin We lost our share of chicks this year and a few ducklings (those we knew why & those were preventable). It was worse than usual. We don't know the full reason for all of them. Last year I had a few. This year was just bad.

    Well, the cow has a small bag (large grapefruit size) of "water" hanging out her back end. It is clean (important). I don't think it is any type of prolapse & she doesn't appear to be pushing. She can still pee. As odd as it sounds, I wonder if she had twins & one is still in there. That is what it looks like to me. That would possibly explain an early birth for the one. I can't imagine the other would still be okay though if that's what it is.

    She is still acting normal.

  • marcy_northlightsfarmmarcy_northlightsfarm Posts: 100 ✭✭✭

    So sorry you had to deal with that. We had two abortions happen at our farm this year. They were about one month before a normal birth would have occured. When a third happened to a younger fetus we saved it and asked our vet to send it to the lab. He refused saying it happens to a certain percentage of calves and the lab doesn't do post mortem work. It was so upsetting. So far there hasn't been any more. Lots of good things happen on farms, especially bringing new life into the world. It's sad when things like this happen.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,401 admin
    edited August 2020

    @marcy_northlightsfarm Thank you for your story.

    I am surprised (yet not) that the vet wouldn't test it. Ours has hangups and you wonder sometimes when they are that way. It is too bad that you were just dismissed in that manner.

    When I was reading, one article said to handle the calf, placenta, etc. with gloves & dispose of it properly citing that abortions sometimes occur from something (now I don't remember what) that can be spread to other cattle, animals & people.

    It said to take a small sample of the placenta, I think, and submit it to a vet/lab. Now, ours is one calf. You would think that after a few, that a vet would test.

    Here is the article. I had been looking up info on retained placenta in case that was what we were looking at having to deal with.

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