Clementine and her Cold Weather Calf

2015/02/08 by Posted in: On the Farm

Each spring and summer we look forward to our big, beautiful cows calving a small, beautiful calf. Often times this event will take place out in the field, in the soft grass with the sheep and llama in attendance. This winter, with the help of our oldest cow Clementine, we had the chance to experience a cold weather birth and learn what is necessary to ensure a safe and comfortable process.
mbf newborn 2smRegardless of the weather, any impending birth is wrought with anxiety. From worrying about the position of the calf to the first few hours after waiting to see that the little one latches on and nurses all the teats and mastitis doesn’t become an issue. For Clementine, calving on December 19th added extra anxiety. Will she drop her calf out in the snow, will the babe be too cold, will Clem get enough nutrients to keep up with the task and endurance required to deliver a 50lb calf, and heaven forbid, what if we need the veterinarian and there’s a blizzard! Needless to say, along with the stress of the holidays, Clem’s due date had everyone slightly on edge and taking extra precautions.

To eliminate the worry of an outdoor calving we let Clem out while someone was present and regularly checking on her. Closer to the due date we put her in her own stall and added a heat lamp in case the temperature dropped significantly. We made sure she had plenty of 2nd cut hay, a small amount of grain, and plenty of fresh water with a little apple cider vinegar. It has been our experience that ACV is helpful for calcium retention to avoid milk fever, provides electrolytes and potassium and might be a preventative to mastitis. Finally, we made sure to do late night checks. Low and behold, Clem calved a pretty, little heifer four days past her due date. Coral was born in the stall, mid-morning on a rather mild, sunny day with plenty of farmhands ready to help. As usual, Clementine calved beautifully and tended to her new babe without hesitation, licking and crooning and needing nothing from us but a warm, comfortable stall and peace and quiet.

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