Country Living Series

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Imminent calf?

On Sunday afternoon as I was cleaning Matilda's pen, I noticed something interesting.

Matilda, for my newer readers, is our Jersey cow. All our other animals are purebred Dexters, but I fell in love with our neighbor's Jersey a few years ago so we got one of our own in November 2008. We had a nightmare case of mastitis when we got her from a commercial dairy north of us, but she has become my all-time favorite cow because of her sweet disposition.

Anyway, our bull Gimli bred Matilda last April. Wrong time of year, since that would mean a calf would be born mid-February. So last August we had the vet give her a shot of Lutalyse (an abortant) so she could be re-bred at a better time.

Now I'm thinking the Lutalyse didn't "take." That's because on Sunday I noticed Matilda was suddenly bagged up.

I haven't been milking Matilda for the last few months out of pure laziness. Pearly, her calf, was taking most of the rich milk and it was rather nice not to be tied to a twice-a-day milking schedule that I had before Pearly was born. As a result, Matilda's udder was flaccid.

But no more. Suddenly it's huge and turgid (bagged up), which only happens in the final weeks before birth.


This morning when I let Matilda and Pearly out of their pen, I noticed a string of mucus hanging from her backside. Another indicator.


The reason this takes me so much by surprise is Matilda doesn't look near as pregnant as she did last year. I mean, last year she was massive. This year, no.


Concerned, I called the vet and asked what effect a Lutalyse shot could have on a calf if the cow doesn't abort. Could the calf be born deformed? The vet said no, Lutalyse wouldn't harm a fetus if the cow didn't abort.

So time will tell. At least our winter weather at the moment is mild with no snow on the ground, and we always tuck Matilda (and Pearly) into her pen at night, so she'll have protection if she does indeed have a calf in a couple weeks.

I'll keep everyone posted.

21 comments:

  1. WOW, I will pray all works out. If you do get a calf, it will be interesting and since the calf so far doesn't do things by the book then you may have a fun and very interesting behaved calf! Can the vet come by and give you better idea if she is preggers? or if this is something else?

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  2. So much for birth control. It isn't right in God's sight for humans and I guess it doesn't work too well in cows LOL

    I'll be waiting for the news of the new calf any day now :-) I think it's exciting!

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  3. I'm green with envy! I've been wanting a jersey for 4 years now but the timing and our situation hasn't been right for a milk cow. Sigh... Someday!

    She looks lovely, jerseys are the sweetest cows. Post if she calves please!

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  4. So, I guess if your Jersey cow has a calf...that makes the calf a New Jersey???

    Yeah, I know. Sorry.

    Anonymous Patriot
    USA

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  5. I go my money on a small bull calf.
    And you know how it goes in the barn....he's a coming with the next bout of nasty weather :-)
    Good Luck!

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  6. My guess would be a rather late miscarriage. I hope things turn out O.K.

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  7. Hunh. Wonder if a Dexter/Jersey calf would be smaller than a Jersey calf. If so, perhaps that's why she doesn't appear as huge.

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  8. Ma'am -

    I have been reading your blog for a while and I absolutely love it. I have a question about chickens. Is it possible to email you, or should I post it in comments?

    Christopher

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  9. Christopher, why don't you post it here? That way everyone can participate. I hope I can give a reasonable answer!

    - Patrice

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  10. She looks quite a bit "swollen" in the nether regions, too! I've never seen a cow calve, but Hogs do that, and so do goats, right before giving birth. (Hoping to find a new kid here on our farm in the next few days!)

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  11. Will do. I apologize in advance if it is a little long.
    I am about to retire from the Navy and move back to TX. My wife and I plan on being as self-sufficient as possible, and one of the things we really want to have is chickens (for the eggs - wife and daughters won't eat anything they have ever named/looked in the eyes).
    So my questions are: are chickens purchased as chicks and if so, at what age will they start to produce eggs? And does there have to be a rooster present for them to start laying eggs?
    I know you have experience with this, and I admit to having read many books, but I have never raised livestock at all. I really enjoy your blog, I subscribe to your feed and read it every day. My wife and I homeschool our four teenagers, and we aspire to have something similar to what you have built therein ID(only without as much snow!) Thank you very much for all that you do.

    Very Respectfully

    Christopher

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  12. Christopher, that's worthy of a separate blog post. I won't have time to address it tonight, but hopefully I can get to it tomorrow. Chicken basics - good subject. Stand by!

    - Patrice

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  13. You are too kind. Thank you very much.

    Christopher

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  14. Patrice,
    Per the BEI website's bovine gestation table, if Matilda was bred April 30 (when you blogged), then she would be due on February 6. She is well within the range of calving dates and these are the first signs, so it could still be a couple of days away, or not....;-) Good luck.
    Their website is http://www.bovine-elite.com/gest.asp
    The Paintedmoose

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  15. My guess would be that since she was bred to a Dexter, the calf must be smaller by Jersey standards. Am really interested to see how this turns out. The past two years we bred our Jersey to low birth weight Angus'. This year we were fortunate to be able to breed her to a full Jersey. Hoping for a heifer.

    Good luck, can't wait to see pictures.

    Laurie in NC

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  16. Looks to me like you will be blessed with a new calf very soon. Sometimes those girls fool you and just don't pack on the pounds. With the little one nursing, she probably didn't get as big this time.

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  17. Christopher,

    You may also find this web site to be helpful...

    http://www.backyardchickens.com/lcenter.html

    Tanya

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  18. My sister just got a dexter calf...she has been asking around at www.repasture.com about the breeding of a dexter for beef calves. Do you have any experience with this?

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  19. City Sister, we have always put our Dexter steers in the freezer. We steer the bull calves at a few days old and raise them for two years before putting them in the freezer. We've been known to butcher younger (most notably if we've run out of meat) but two years is about right. Dexters are obviously smaller than the larger breeds and have proportionately smaller cuts, but grass-fed Dexter meat is wonderful.

    - Patrice

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  20. So how's Matilda doing? Any new babies? =)

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  21. I'm glad to see your Matilda is going to be a momma. I pray the baby survives and becomes a gentle as her/his mother.

    Ouida Gabriel

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