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July 20, 2009

A Calving Call

Last week, Dr. McGraw received a phone call from a frantic, crazy woman who said her first-time heifer was calving and that she (the heifer) had been up and down pushing for 1 1/2 hrs with nothing to show for it. So, Dr. McGraw made a quick trip home to placate the frantic, crazy woman and to check one of her (and his) cows. (Yes, the crazy woman, his wife -- a vet herself-- could have checked that heifer, but she didn't have any chains or calf-puller at her disposal, and besides that she likes to see her husband come home in the middle of the day--any excuse is a good excuse!)

"Luna" the cow had been off by herself all morning, getting up, laying down, trying to find a place to get away from all the strange pain and discomfort she had been feeling. I had been watching her carefully since this was her first time calving. I was sure she had been in active labor for 3 hrs and pushing for 1 1/2hrs, and I had not seen any evidence of the amniotic sack rupturing or any feet sticking out, I gave Dr. McGraw a call to see if he could come out and check her. She was a raised as a bottle calf so she is still very tame -- he was able to walk right up to her and check her.

The amniotic sac ruptured as he palpated and he was able to feel front feet and pull them out part way. When the sac ruptured, we could tell that the amniotic fluid was filled with {meconium} -- a sign that the calf was under stress. The calf was moving its feet though so we could tell it was still alive. Luna was trying hard to push with every contraction, but she wasn't getting very far even with help, so Dr. McGraw ran back to his truck to get the chains.

Notice the double wrap on the chains -- this helps alleviate any damage that the chains might cause on the legs when the calf is being pulled.


No luck! Together, man and beast can only get the calf out as far as it's nose.

Time to get out the calf puller. Hang on there little calf!

A few contractions and a few ratchets on the calf puller and the calf is out. Yeah!
Ummmm.... the photographer forgot to take pictures while the calf was coming out. Sorry!

Hello little lady. So glad you could join us. Did you know that you are covered in poo?

Luna, meet your baby. Clean her up real good. This right here is the cause of all your discomfort and pain.

Enough cooing. Dr. McGraw has work to do. He checks to make sure all 4 quarters are opened up, and then he is back to the clinic. Thanks Dr. McGraw!

Within 10 minutes of being born, the calf is already trying to get up and find the milk bar. It amazes me everytime how quickly a calf goes from being in the water world of the womb to terra firma and walking on legs that have never stood before in just a matter of minutes.

Look at that calf go! Just hours later she is kicking up her heels. Would Luna have been able to have her calf on her own? Probably. Hopefully. But it would have been quite awhile later and the calf may not have faired so well had the labor gone on for much longer.