A calf is born! Hilde finally calved and has a beautiful, light brown calf!
What you are about to read and see is the actual process of delivering a calf. If you are squemish, you may want to blur your eyes at the photos as you continue reading.
This delivery was the most eventful yet - the calf was breech! A breech calf is one that comes out feet and bottom first. The normal presentation is head first - well, you see the front hooves first and then the head.
When we purchased Hilde, she had been bred (impregnated) with a Brahman bull. Hilde is a Jersey and Brown Swiss cross and is larger than a full Jersey but, a Brahman is even bigger. When our vet checked her, he cautioned us to watch her during delivery because the calf could be rather large - meaning, she would need some help getting the calf out.
If you remember, I gave the signs of calving that we were seeing and knew Hide was getting close to calving. On Friday, we noticed that she was out in the pasture alone in the scrub brush. They like to be secluded when they calve and we just made sure nothing was wrong and went to bed - these things take time! ;)
Saturday morning it was obvious that this was the day she would calve. The first calf part to show were two hooves. Talk about getting excited - we did.
It was amazing to see how she continued moving and walking around.
We were all out in the pasture talking to her but we were not alone - LBC, our steer, stayed right by her side. He seemed to know when she had been laying down long enough and should get up and walk. LBC would give her a nudge and make her get moving!
She had been having occasional contractions but finally around 11:15 am she began to have more frequent contractions. But, there was no real progress with delivering the calf.
Most of our other cows have delivered standing up so when Hilde laid down, I was concerned. She had laid down a couple of times during the morning as if to rest but, this was different. This time, she layed down on her side as you can see below.
She would roll back with a contraction lifting her leg - it did not look good! It did not take but a couple of contractions to realize that she was in trouble! So, on the next contraction, John began pulling the calf's legs.
This may sound easy but those legs are slippery and it takes a lot of strength. As strong as John is, it was not long before he asked the boys to help. You can see below that the legs and hips followed the hooves.
They pulled with each contraction and you can now see the majority of the calf's body.
And they pulled some more. Each time more of the calf appeared. Below, you can see the shoulders and finally the head is coming out. The white sac around the calf's body is the membranes. During the birthing process, the calf's body is really elongated and with the membranes around it, looks a bit weird.
By this time, we really thought the calf was dead because it had not moved at all. Reconciled to a dead calf, we were just trying to save Hilde! Imagine our surprise and total excitement when the calf moved - it was alive! Now we have a calf born alive!
At this point, Hilde was not getting up - she just kept lying there.
John who had the blood and membranes on his hands from pulling the calf, walked to her head and she began licking his hands clean. It did not take long before Hilde was up cleaning the calf, which, by the way, is a bull!
The calf is named Backy because his backside or rear end or bottom (whatever you want to call it) came out first!
The calf was indeed stuck - its hips were about 10" across and that is what kept him from making his way out!
As exciting at this calving was, there is no way I would want to be a veterinarian, it is just too much drama for this mamma! We sure are excited to have a calf that is born alive!
For more homesteading posts, check out the links below!
Being Prepared After the Cow Calves