Regular readers of our newsletter may remember Molly’s tale of Cow #129’s first birth (and Molly’s first milking experience). After a rough birth experience in a cold wet rainstorm, she rejected her first calf and for a few weeks she had to be restrained in the squeeze chute so he could nurse. Eventually, she accepted her male calf, and he thrived.
John was relieved because in his mind she is the perfect cow – fat, gentle, and well adapted to our pasture. He was hoping she would drop a female so we could add her good genetics to the heard. Good genetics that do well on grass are important, but the most important aspect of a cow is that she can deliver calves on a regular basis without any trouble. #129 had one strike against her, but because it was her first birthing experience and she was John’s favorite, he decided to give her another chance. It took about 6 months before she conceived again (3 months is typical) but John still hoped she would be an asset to the herd.
She went into labor last night and we were excited about having another newborn calf on the ranch. Imagine John’s disappointment when he went to check on her this morning to find a dead calf and a downed mother – she couldn’t even get up off her side, he had to use the tractor to roll her over. She is unable to get up on her feet and is just plumb worn out. I imagine it was a difficult birth. We are praying she regains her strength and makes a full recovery, but ranching is not for the weak at heart. Decisions must be made and with barren pastures and winter approaching it may be time for her to go.