Calving Season has begun at Orange Patch Dairy. I am so excited to be calving, it's my favorite season. When we purchased our herds of cows almost 5 years ago, we knew that each of the farmers that we bought from focused on calving heavily in the early winter months to allow for more time in the crop seasons. As a result, as the herd has grown, more and more animals are available for calving during the winter months. Last year we had about 30 head to calve between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day...this year we await the birth of 40 calves!
So far we have 3 bulls calves and one heifer calf. Obviously I am hoping for more heifer calves so I can keep them, but the bulls are great too-a live calf is the best kind, regardless of the gender! I did some counting this morning, and I have about 27 head to have calves in the coming 30 days!!!! That's insane, and about 7 cows due in the next 6 days. This afternoon I induced a cow that is 5 days over due. Being over due increases the chances of a large calf and a difficult birth, so instead of waiting for nature to take it's course, we give it a little "medical" push. I am certain that this cow will be fine and I look forward to seeing her in labor tomorrow afternoon (it usually takes about 24 hours to get the birthing process started).
Today I also delivered a bull calf by myself. This is no easy task. I noticed that the cow was in labor at noon and I moved her inside, where she could enjoy a pen to herself. In about 20 minutes she broke her water (placenta) and was pushing. 5 minutes later I checked on her only to find rear legs sticking out. Calves normally are delivered front legs first, that way their heads come out first and they have the chance to breathe before they umbilical cord breaks. So I rushed to the office to grab some gloves and a chain. Yes, we use chains to pulls calves. It's not painful to the cow or the calf, but instead allows us to have more leverage when trying to help a 1800 pound cow deliver a 120 pound calf. Calves that size can't be delivered by hand, no body I know is that strong. So, nevertheless, I put the chains on the rear feet, tied up a rope, and used my body weight to put some pressure on the chain. Every time that the cow pushed, I pulled....with a lot of teamwork and positive encouragement, we delivered in about 10 minutes a healthy baby bull, and momma cow was in great shape!! Had I not helped her out, she would have strained and struggled for a long time, wearing herself out-causing stress on the calf and more than likely the calf would have been born dead, if she would have been able to get him out-all in all a success! Our cow, Xebe is a great cow-so tame and easy to work with-I am so happy we had success! I am looking forward to the next 27 calves, and hoping that I don't have to "pull" everyone of them ;)