As we move our cows to the Badlands Pasture, we pair them, meaning each momma cow has to find her baby in the herd; they must recognize each other, and the baby must follow the cow out of the main bunch. Learning to follow momma is an important life skill, but this is the first time they’ve had to do it when we tell them to! Once they are sorted, we can move them more easily… they won’t be running around looking for each other. On this day, we had nine cows left who hadn’t yet (or wouldn’t) calve. Those we put up in the corral to take care of later.
A couple of hours later, we return. As Vernon rides a four wheeler and the rest of us were horseback, he beat us to the corral. “Well, that baldy is calving, but her calf is backwards.”
Great. Backwards calves often mean dead calves. They should be born front feet first with their little noses soon to follow. When calves come backwards, back feet first, it’s usually a difficult birth, and the calf often inhales fluid and basically drowns before it’s born.
The bottom of the hooves are on top… that’s your sign the calf is backwards.
We have a device… the calf puller… and this is the instance you need to use them. Ninety nine percent of the time, *IF* we have to help a cow calve, we hook just a metal chain in a slip knot around each hoof, link on some handles, and manually add tension to *pull* the calf out.
The calf puller is more intense. The chains are still slip knotted high above the ankles, but a jacking device, similar to an old time car jack, is hooked to the chain. The “cow end” has to set in something, so a harness goes over her tail and a curved metal bar will push against her rear.
Here you can see the set up ready to be used.
Cranking on the handle jacks out the calf.
Now, the process needs to be done fast. Remember, once the calf is far enough along the birth canal, its umbilical will be squeezed against the cow’s pelvis, slowing blood flow causing death or brain damage. The umbilical will also break sooner than it should, and it will need to breathe. All it can inhale is fluid… We don’t want this calf to die. We let the cow out of the chute.
She’s not a big fan… who would be? But she’s a good cow and stands for a minute. Vernon is applying downward pressure to replicate the normal arc of a natural birth. Daniel is jacking trying to bring the calf. The cow soon slides to the ground.
Please come back tomorrow to see the rest of the story!Find me here!