Cow Giving Birth To A Calf

One afternoon last week, I got home from work, checked our pregnant heifers(first calf cows), and saw that one of them was about to give birth. I ran back to the house, grabbed my camera, and ran back to take pictures.

5:47pm:  The front feet and nose of the calf enclosed within the amniotic sac have emerged from the heifer. She lays down to push the calf out while another heifer looks on.


5:48pm – One minute later, she gets up, possibly to shift the calf into a better position.


5:50pm – She lies down again, and finally pushes the calf out.  As he is born, the amniotic sac ruptures. The umbilical cord is still attached.


5:52pm – 2 minutes old.  The heifer gets to her feet, and begins to sniff her newborn. His head is still in the amniotic sac.

5:52pm - 2 minutes old

5:52pm – 2 minutes old.  Stimulated by his mother mooing softly to him and licking him, he lifts his head removing it finally from the amniotic sac.

5:52pm - 2 minutes old

5:53pm – 3 minutes old.  With his mother and another heifer looking on, the calf tries to get to his feet for the first time.

5:53pm - 3 minutes old

5:55pm – 5 minutes old.  While his mother cleans him, he tries to get to his feet again.

5:55pm - 5 minutes old

5:59pm – 9 minutes old.  Cleaned up somewhat, but still wet, he rests for just a moment.

5:59pm - 9 minutes old

6:01pm – 11 minutes old.  He makes another try at standing.

6:01pm - 11 minutes old

6:01pm – 11 minutes old.   Having fallen again, his mother continues to clean him.

6:01pm - 11 minutes old

6:03pm – 13 minutes old.  The calf tries to get to his feet again. Instinct and his mother’s urging drive him on.

6:03pm - 13 minutes old

6:03pm – 13 minutes old.  Having fallen again, his mother cleans him and moos softly to him.

6:03pm - 13 minutes old

6:05pm – 15 minutes old.  He almost gets to his feet, but loses his balance and falls backwards.  He’s getting close though.

6:05pm - 15 minutes old

6:08pm – 18 minutes old.  Another attempt at standing. It’s hard to get all 4 legs coordinated.


6:10pm – 20 minutes old.   Success!!  He’s on his feet and determined to stay there. Mom now takes the opportunity to clean his legs.

6:10pm - 20 minutes old

6:25pm – 35 minutes old.   He walks back towards his mother’s udder to try and find his first meal.

6:25pm - 35 minutes old

6:25pm – 35 minutes old.  His mother stands still for him while he searches for her udder. He’s in the right area, but hasn’t found it.

6:25pm – 35 minutes old

6:26pm – 36 minutes old.  Not having found her udder, he walks around behind her still looking for it.

6:26pm – 36 minutes old

6:26pm – 36 minutes old.   Having made a lap around her, he’s pretty much back where he started and still looking for her udder. His mother continues to stand patiently.

6:26pm – 36 minutes old

6:26pm – 36 minutes old.   Having missed the udder again, he starts another lap around his mom.

6:26pm - 36 minutes old

6:28pm – 38 minutes old.   Having lapped his mom again, he still hasn’t found her udder.

6:28pm - 38 minutes old.

6:37pm – 47 minutes old.  He’s close, and he knows it’s here somewhere.

6:37pm - 47 minutes old

6:38pm – 48 minutes old.  Tired of searching, and just plain tired anyway, he lies down for a little rest.

6:38pm - 48 minutes old

6:38pm – 48 minutes old.   Farmer Harland to the rescue. He carries the calf out of the lot and into the barn. His mom followed along.

6:38pm - 48 minutes old

6:38pm – 48 minutes old.   Safe in the barn away from outdoor distractions, Harland will put them into a smaller pen with clean straw. There the little calf will find his Mom’s udder and have his first meal that evening.

6:38pm – 48 minutes old

They spent the night in the barn bonding and getting to know each other, and the next morning, Harland let them out into the pasture with the other new moms and babies.  I found the calf there that afternoon when he was about 24 hours old.

24 hours old

His mom had done a good job cleaning him up, and he was dry and fluffy.

24 hours old

He had spent most of his first full day just resting.

24 hours old

And now he’s part of the herd.

24 hours old

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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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38 Responses

  1. Louise says:

    The miracle of life is an awesome thing (maybe not while eating lunch, though). Thank you for sharing those moments with all!

  2. Rosann says:

    Thank you. What a beautiful moment in time to post.

  3. Sandra says:

    Awww, Precious. I always wonder how baby animals bear the cold when they are all wet but they mostly do.Nature is amazing. What a great experience. Have a great day!!

    • Suzanne says:

      That afternoon was nice and warm so the cold wasn’t an issue, Sandra. But if a cow calves when it is really cold, and doesn’t clean it off well, it can freeze to death if we don’t get to it in time. But most of the time the cow takes care of their calf well and all turns out ok.

  4. Tina says:

    He looks so sweet. I love the look on his face as Harland is carrying him! His eyes are so big and he is trying to figure it all out, bless his heart. Do they always rest that much the first couple days? Sorry to all you ranch people…but I am just a city slicker. Thank you, Suzanne for sharing.

    • Suzanne says:

      Birth is really tiring for them, so they do sleep and rest a lot in the first couple days, but as they get older, they get more and more active. The ones we have that were born several weeks ago, are now running around and playing with each other a lot.

  5. Monica says:

    What a privilege to be able to witness this miracle. I loved the last picture where he is all fluffy and dry!

  6. Dianna says:

    He is so beautiful!! I love those last photos of him after Mom finished cleaning him. Isn’t instinct something? It’s amazing how they stand so quickly after birth. Thanks for sharing. (I lived across from a dairy barn as a child, but never witness the birth of a calf.)

  7. Dianna says:

    * witnessed. (I really do need to proofread!)

  8. Pam K. says:

    So interesting! I love learning all of the new things you show us with on-the-spot reporting, Suzanne!

  9. Joani says:

    So adorable. Thanks 4 sharing. Have a great day.

  10. Hound Doggy says:

    Wore me out just reading about it. It takes so much just to get born. He sure is cute.

    • Suzanne says:

      Oh it does Hound Doggy. And imagine when things don’t go just right. This one was texbook, but sometimes there are problems and it turns into a nightmare. Thankfully most of them are easy peasy like this one was. 🙂

  11. Kelly says:

    I LOVE your posts! And I’m crazy about cows. The little guy is precious.
    What happens to the umbilical cord? I never thought they were in any danger but it makes sense about freezing to death in cold weather. It’s not as though a mother cow can wrap its arms around its newborn.
    Fascinating! Thank you Suzanne!

  12. Glyndalyn says:

    Beautiful calf. The mother appears to be easy to handle.

  13. Teresa says:

    Great pictures! It’s just amazing how they know what to do–both the first time mom and the calf.

  14. Oh my goodness gracious! Fantastic photos! You did such a great job of capturing every moment! I am always sympathetic an in awe of momma animals giving birth! Glad everything turned out well with this birth. That was interesting about how the calf still had his head in the omniatic sac. It is just amazing how they learn to walk so quickly! Poor little calf trying to find his mother’s udder…I’ll bet you just had the strongest urge to go over and show him! I also can’t believe how fluffy and dry he got after being all cleaned up by his momma licking him to death! He looks so cute! My favorite photos are the last 2. I mean, all of the photos are fantastic, but he’s just too darn cute all cleaned up and then the one where he’s resting in the sun while the others are looking on. So great!

    • Suzanne says:

      We do get tempted to try and help out with the newborns, but it’s best if mama and baby work things out for themselves. Our cows are not tame and don’t take kindly to what they think is “interfereance” from us.

  15. Kathy says:

    So amazing. Momma’s never given birth before, but knows just what to do. Brand-new baby is getting up and eating. Never did any of that before either. Absolutely amazing!

    • Suzanne says:

      I’ve seen lots of new calves, but never get over how it all works out even though they’ve never done it before. It is amazing.

  16. Thank you for capturing and sharing this beautiful moment with us. 🙂 Wow.

  17. julie says:

    Oh, SO precious! I just want to hug one!

    • Suzanne says:

      Well, you could probably get a hug the first couple days, but after that they get all timid, and quick too. First you’d have to catch them and it’s like running after a deer. The little buggers move like lightning.

  18. Astrid says:

    Oh Suzanne, what a beautiful pictures, what a beautiful little boy.
    Thanks for sharing, my cow lost her calf so no cutie for me this year (and no milk either 🙁 )
    Keep us posted.

  19. ross says:

    There is nothing quite so pretty as a healthy new calf. My oldest grand daughter says it makes you want to pet them.

    • Suzanne says:

      I’m always tempted to pet them Ross, but I give mama and baby their space. And I don’t want to get attached to them either as most of them will be sold in about a year.

  20. Eileen says:

    I have a question. I bought 2 calves at an action on wednesday and they are very young. We dont know how old they are but te unbilical cord is still attacted to the female and the bulls just fell off yesterday. How long does it take for them to fall off? Im just trying to guess how old they are.

    • Suzanne says:

      Eileen, according to the farmer of the house, no more than 2 weeks. And he recommends they be getting the highest grade milk replacer for at least a couple weeks.

  21. prosen biswas says:

    I like this.Than you.

  22. Eileen says:

    Thank you so much Suzanne. They are doing great now. I did go with the highest grade milk replacer and now they have gained weight and are very playful! Thank you so much for all this information!
    Happy “mooing”!

    • Suzanne says:

      You’re welcome! Getting them through the first few weeks is the hardest, and it’s all downhilll from there. Love watching calves play.

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