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Message Title: Calf Head First
Author: Ron Murphy  Posted: 06\07\2001 12:07
Location: Pa
Hi Gail
I have been down the same road you are experiencing. I didnt have to pull many calves for many years, and then one year experimenting with a new supplement pellet I fed 4 lbs of supplement to my gestating cows. I pulled every third calf and lost half of them. Most were to what I call the elbow lock. Every thing starts normal enough ,2 front feet about the same and then the cow starts getting up and down because she is having problems, she stands up and you see 1 foot, the head, and the other hoof. The rush to the barn begins and maybe you get her in, in time, or maybe not enough time to save the calf. Also backwards presentations, usually no problem, become a problem, if the cow has an oversized calf and is a little too heavy, if she takes too long to deliver, the calf will die. What is the right body condition, I have decided a lot leaner than most of us think.
This last winter, I fed mature cows no pellets at all, I just made minerals available. I fed 2 year old cows 1 lb of pellet, mineral available. I fed 1 year old heiffers 2 lb of pellet, mineral available. All cows have free choice grass hay available.
There were times I wondered if the cows were getting too thin and would I have reabsorption of calves. These were the thinnest I have ever had my cows.
Calving so far has been a delight, 21 calves so far with no problems. Average time from first contraction to calf on the ground, under 40 mins, that includes a high percentage of heiffers having their first calf. I have never had more active calves, they are hitting the ground running.
My conclusion is over the last 12 years I thought I was keeping my cows thin enough for calving, but I wasnt.
Next year get them thin enough enough that you worry about them a little bit, in the mean time I wish you the best, what you are experiencing is hard, I know.
Ron Murphy