Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Saddening News: Belle Lost Her Calf

Saddening News: Belle Lost Her Calf

Yesterday morning I went about my normal routine, of milking Belle at 10:00 AM. She was already waiting on me in the milking chute, when I finally got out there. I noticed her rear-end was swelled up, that was odd, and she had some *stuff* coming out the back. Hmm...I went about my milking, finished, then went back inside. Later, Carolina went out to feed her horse, Radar, and came running, breathlessly inside to tell us that Belle was having a baby! I ran out to the barn to see what was afoot. She had been laying down, and acting restless, the same as before, except it looked like part of a sack was showing. Through out the day I continued to keep tabs on her. Evening came, and still nothing. About 11:30 that night, I was getting ready to hit the hay, but heard Blizzard and Barley (the milkcow's gigantic calves) bawling, and that reminded me of Belle. I thought to myself, well I'd better go check on her one last time before I turn in. Mom went with me, and we both tromped outside in our pjs, with boots on that were way too big for us. So out we go, before we'd even made it out the gate I shined my flash light across the flat, and saw Belle and Bessie grazing on the flat. Ah! So that's why the calves were bawling. We came back inside, grabbed a bucket of feed, and proceeded out to the barn. Before too long, the girls were back in their pen munching on alfalfa. After we'd fed the bawling calves, who had alerted us to something amiss, we went back into the milkcow's pen to check on Belles be-hind. In the middle of their pen we found a tiny calf, dead. It was premature, and very tiny. It looked fully developed, just really tiny. We guessed it to be about 7 months along. We rubbed on it to see if perhaps we could revive it, but we think it had died inside of her, and she had just now got around to having it. We attempted to carry the dead baby out of the pen, but once Belle saw that we were messing with her lifeless calf, she came running over and tried to fend Rusty (who had followed us out there) off. We decided it was best (for our safety) to leave the calf with her until morning, when the guys could haul it off. 
I was almost in tears, after we tried to take her calf away, she started licking it all over and mooing that sweet-gentle-momma-cow-moo. It was so heart breaking!!

After dad inspected her this morning, he found a small lump underneath Belle's chin, a sign of iodine deficiency. We're guessing she lost it, due to lack of nutrition. 
It shouldn't have taken something like this to wake us up to the fact, but it did. And we learn by our mistakes, sometimes the hard way.

We didn't know Belle was even bred, in fact I had been lining out some miniature Jersey semen to AI them with, just days before all this happened. We're now assuming Bessie is pregnant as well, so we're going to make sure she has a healthy calf.
Anyone know of some good, all natural vitamin and mineral supplements to give pregnant cows?

Yesterday we didn't put either of the calves on the milkcows, so I knew both of them would be full this morning.

Since Belle just had a still-born calf, we suspected that she might have some colostrum this morning. Sure enough, it did look like she had some, so I milked her out and stored her colostrumous milk in the freezer. We like to keep some handy, in case we ever have a bottle calf, or something that needs it. 

Now to the problem, we're debating whether or not to buy another calf for Belle, since she lost hers. When I milked her this morning, she had more milk than she's had all week, so it's possible that this still-born calf she had "freshened" her milk supply, in which case she'll be in milk for another year. However, both their calves from last year are huge now, and since their both steers, we won't be keeping either them, unfortunately, but they are both little darlings~ Anybody need a pet steer, who thinks he's a dog???

SO, I can either start milking her twice a day, we can keep one of their calves from last year, or we can sell all the calves, buy some smaller calves to put on them..or do nothing. Suggestions?

The only problem is, I'm leaving for Tennessee on Friday (19th), and will be gone at least a week, and won't be here to continue the twice a day milking, and Mom isn't too keen on the idea of milking twice per day. 

For now, I'm thinking we'll just keep both calves, then when I get back, we'll decide what to do.

If we do end up getting a calf for Belle, I would like to either get a Jersey or a Holstein heifer for her, that way we can have another milkcow coming up. Or, another option would be to get a Jersey bull calf, who wouldn't be related to either of our girls, and have him for our bull, that way we'd have pure Jersey calves from our two girls, instead of half Jersey calves like we've been having.
However, I would like to buy a little heifer to put on her, that is like I said above, either a Jersey of a Holstein, so she can be a future milker, and so when I get married and move off, I will already have a milkcow. Score one for my future homestead. ;)

So many options! So little time! 

Rest in peace, little calf! Your Mommy and I miss and <3 you!

Blessings - 

~ Aspen


  1. That's too bad about the little calf! So sad for Belle, and for you. :( I hope everything works out with the two steers, and possibly with the - as of now nonexistent - new heifer or bull calf. Oh, and have fun in Tennessee! You have all my envy there!

  2. I am so sorry!!!!! What a loss!!!!! I wish I knew more about what is healthy for cows, but when we went to the vet for my mare (she had malnutrition after the baby was born) they told us to feed lots of grain, alfalfa if available, and Bermuda hay. Also if you do decide to get a calf there is a family in Wolforth that has the calves that the dairies don't want. They are selling bottle babies and are getting both Holsteins and Jerseys on a regular basis. You might want to call them, their number is 806-241-4671, depending on age and how much it costs to get them they are selling the calves for anywhere between $150- $600. Have no idea what you are thinking in regards to price, but they take really good care of the calves while they have them. We got our calf from them and are really satisfied with her. She is really healthy and happy.
    I sure hope you and Cim have a good trip!!! Tell Atlanta and her crew hi for us!!!!!