Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day calf

We've been keeping two critters in our corral for the last week or so because they're close to calving. Lily is half-Jersey, half-Dexter; and Sparky is full Dexter. This will be a second baby for Lily but a first baby for Sparky.

It's always convenient if calves are born in the corral for two reasons; one, the animals have the shelter of the barn if they need it; and two, we can dehorn or castrate the calves without having to embark on a wild goose (calf?) chase across the pasture to capture them.

Anyway, we came home from our neighborhood potluck last night -- and saw that Lily had had her calf! She had just dropped it, and I mean just. The calf was still wet and hadn't gotten to its feet yet.

Altogether now: "Awwww...."

My parents flew in to visit last week and are staying in Coeur d'Alene. My Dad came in for last night's potluck, though my Mom wasn't feeling quite up to it. So Dad -- a city boy from birth -- got to see a newborn calf and he watched enraptured as the baby struggled to its feet and took its first nourishing meal of colostrum. He'd never seen a newborn calf before.

Lily spent a good deal of time licking her baby. This accomplishes three things: (1) it cleans the newborn; (2) it stimulates the baby's circulation; and (3) it familiarizes the cow with her baby's unique scent.

The rest of the herd was eager to catch a glimpse of the newcomer.

While we're not positive of the gender, the elegant long head makes me think it's a girl. Boys usually have shorter heads. Younger Daughter tentatively has named her Leto, after the Greek goddess of motherhood (since she was born on Mother's Day).

As a new mama, of course, Lily is fiercely protective of her baby. We kept our distance.

First attempt to struggle to her feet.

Careful now.... steady....

Not bad for a first try!

"Let's see... I know there's an udder around here somewhere..."

Getting wobbly...

Crash and burn.

Sparky, wildly curious about the baby, got too close...

...and was chased off.

"MY baby!"

Still wobbly but getting stronger.

Aha -- jackpot! All that good colostrum is getting inside.

What a nice Mother's Day gift for Lily.

I checked the calf this morning, and Leto looked strong and chipper and was nursing well.

Here's the dropped placenta, a good sign. (We'll dispose of this.)

An ever-watchful Lily.

First time in the barn.

Sparky still wanted to meet the baby...

...but Lily wouldn't have it.

Last night I noticed Victoria is bagging up too, so we pulled her into the corral (she's the red heifer). This will be Victoria's first calf as well.

See how bagged up she is?

Victoria has two supernumerary teats. These are harmless.

Looks like we'll have calves coming out our ears in the next couple of weeks!


  1. Looks like we'll have calves coming out our ears in the next couple of weeks!


    Now hold on... I know I am just a city boy, but I don't think that is how it works... B-)

  2. Adorable! We have Jerseys and they always let us love on the babies when they are born - must just be the difference in breeds.

  3. So wonderful! A healthy calf with a healthy mama cow! As a veteran of many, many calf pulling sessions (I used to work on a dairy farm with awful Holsteins), there is nothing nicer than seeing a cow deliver a healthy calf all on her own!

  4. Thanks for answering my question before I asked it. I was asking my self why you put her in the corral before a birth. And, I wondered what those little teats were on the bag, but decided not to ask. Will milk come out of those? Will the baby or another baby try to suckle them?

    I don't think I have ever seen a newborn calf either. I don't know if I am a city or country girl. I have just seen pictures.

    I understand the protective mother. But, would another cow, pregnant cow, or bull hurt the baby on purpose? Does the mama keep chickens away?

    1. Victoria has since had her calf, and we haven't noticed any milk coming out of the supernumerary teats. The calf has never tried to nurse from them.

      As for Lily's protectiveness, it wanes after the first couple of days (surging hormones, doncha know). At first she chased the other cows and even the chickens away from her calf. She's a lot more settled now that the calf is over a week old.

      - Patrice

  5. Adorable! Thank you for sharing so many pictures!


  6. Patrice,

    Happy Mother's Day, what a beautiful gift a new baby calf. It's nice to see Mama and baby are well.

  7. I just love when everything goes right for the mom and new born calf. That baby is just adorable, and it is a girl by the jaw line. Good luck on the next little one.

  8. OH, that is just beautiful!

    I can't remember the details, are these babies out of your young Dexter bull?


  9. What a beautiful face. No wonder mama is so proudly watching over her!

    Phyllis (N/W Jersey)

  10. She's udderly beautiful!

  11. from the pic you can see it is female look below the tail. if it a bull it will be smooth - the female you can see the vulva area

  12. We have Dexters here too, they are awesome. I come from a proud Hereford breeding family but Dexters beat them hands down! I am right there alongside all our girls when they calve, they may allow it because I give them willow branches before and after labour, it is supposed to act as a painkiller so they probably tolerate me because I am giving them drugs! When we first got them you couldn't walk anywhere near them but this last season when one had a really tight udder and she allowed me to gently strip milk her, out in the paddock, to relieve the pressure on her udder. When she had had enough she just slowly turned her head and looked at me as if to say "what do you think you are doing weirdo, can't you tell that's enough?" and I swear if she could have rolled her eyes she would have, then she slowly walked off. They often amuse me, they are wonderful Mums, calve easily and really seem to be able to think and figure things out - not always a good thing! Your animals look lovely, calves are very cool, it is so nice when you see them finally standing and taking their first drink! Very nice.