Our last calf of the year took its time to arrive.
The dam (mum) had been showing signs of the impending birth for a couple of weeks – her udder was gradually getting bigger as the milk prepared to come through and she was showing signs of discharge in the days leading up to the birth.
Every day we had been checking on her regularly for any drastic changes.
As we arrived home on Sunday afternoon her bag was full (she’s normally a cow with a very tiny udder so the change was certainly noticeable) and she was waddling away from the rest of herd – a sure sign the calf was on its way.
Just ten minutes later she was passing the placenta and as quickly as it was out she was eating it – to get nourishment from the goodness held within it.
Another ten minutes later and the front hooves of the calf were visible and she was pushing well.
Ten minutes later the little (or not so little) bull calf was out.
She immediately started licking him to dry him off and stimulate movement.
We were due to go out within 30 minutes so wanting to go safe in the knowledge that he was standing and had had his first feed of milk (this contains the all important colostrum all newborns need) we gave him a helping hand after his numerous attempts to stand ended without success.
Once on his feet he was a little unstable but could move about slowly. He immediately knew he would find some milk somewhere on the underside of his mum, he worked from her front to back and found the udder, with a little help he latched on and was sucking well.
Relived all was well we left him to it and came home to a standing calf.
Four days later he’s now springing about and trotting across the field – with mum not far behind.
Nature truly is a wonderful thing and I’m always amazed at how quickly these calves adapt to life outside the womb after nine months tucked away safely. They’re on their feet – often within minutes – and within days are showing their strong and independent characters.
Here’s how his arrival and first few hours panned out…