Bottle Feeding Two Calves

The bulls were turned out with the ladies last June and with a gestation period of about nine months for cows, that made their due date March 9.

But our ladies can’t read numbers or understand calendars sooooo…….

Tuesday evening, Harland headed up to the farm at 9:30 pm to check on the cows. It was a cold evening with a brisk north wind and a temperature of about 20. When an hour passed and he still hadn’t returned, I knew he had run into a problem as the farm is only about a half mile away. And sure enough, when he came back, he starting to make two colostrum doses for two calves he’d found.

He explained that two of the cows had calved. The first had twins and while she accepted one of them -cleaned it up and allowed it to nurse – she ignored the other.

The second cow had just one calf but rejected it outright.

Both the calves were curled up on the ground. Neither of them had been cleaned up, and wouldn’t have lasted much longer in the cold if Harland hadn’t found them. One by one he picked each of them up and carried them to a small building out of the wind. He put them both in a calf warmer which is like a doghouse with a heater. Then he came back to our house, made up two doses of colostrum, went back to the farm and fed them both. Then he came back home again, and we finally got to bed about midnight.

The next day he taught one of the calves to nurse from a bottle but the other was still weak and having problems learning how to nurse from a bottle. That one had to be tube fed which is a process where Harland inserts an 18 inch tube connected to a bag of milk into the calves mouth, down its throat and into its esophagus. The bag of milk is held up above the calves head and gravity makes the milk flow down into the calves tummy. But it’s a time consuming thing to do and uncomfortable and scary for the calf. So we try to get them to take a bottle as soon as possible.

Here’s a video I took when the calves were about 24 hours old:



By the next day, calf #2 was nursing from the bottle on her own. Both of them will be sold soon to friend so ours who are starting a cattle herd of their own.

Since Tuesday, another of the cows and one of the heifers each had calves and those are doing fine.

We’re well on our way into our calving season. Calves will come regular for the next month or so. Each day one, or two or three will be born. And soon there will be lots of little babies running around and playing.

And I’ll be sharing lots of pictures and video of the little ones with you too.

Stay tuned. It’s baby season on the farm!