Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It Ain't Always Posies And Pancakes

No matter how much we want things to go so smooth, it'd take 5 "o's" to spell it correctly... they usually don't.

Calving has been going real good up til yesterday. All that horrible weather, all that cold, all that mud... and we get a sunny 65 degree day and it's the one that turns into a bucket of turds spilled in the middle of your living room. Yesterday was one of 'em. Holy mackerel.

Death number 1. A first calf heifer gets upside down in a small depression in the ground while giving birth and dies. This happens pretty fast, you need to find them within about 30 minutes of them getting upside down or it's all over. A cow is a belching, farting machine. She's gotta let it go continually to keep from blowing up bigger than an August roadkill. During the birthing of a calf, there is no farting, just not enough room for it to come on past, so it's all belching... and actually there's none of that that takes place "on purpose" through the action of what an animal with a rumen does, but some slips past. So the cow by chance rolls into a small depression, her center of gravity is all thrown out of kilter with a 70-80 pound baby coming down the alley, and she can't right herself. So in the span of a few minutes she starts to gas up, ballooning grotesquely out of proportion, her inflated stomach pushes all her innards up into her lungs, compressing them.... until she just suffocates.

Death number 2. This heifer's calf. When the cow gasses up her brain stops the contractions, self regulating what oxygen she's able to suck up with her diminished lung capacity. Survival mode. The calf is already in the birth canal or part way out and needs to get on out to suck that first breath of air that it cannot while still halfway in the cow.

Death number 3. An older cow gave birth on the edge of a ditch bank. Cows do this quite a bit, it reduces the directions that a predator can come in and snag the calf or attack the cow. She only has 180 degrees that she has to watch instead of 360. It appeared that this calf just tumbled off into the ditch that had about 2 foot of water in it, drew a breath and drowned.

Death number 4. Another heifer's calf. We don't really know what happened to this one. It came fine, it's mother was in good shape, she cleaned it up and all appeared well with it. Next time my uncle saw it about 2 hours later... it was dead. I felt it's ribs and bones thinking that maybe she had stepped on it, but it seemed to be all intact. Just one of those deals.

That was yesterday. How much of a loss you ask? The calves bring about $600 at sale time each. The heifer was a very nicely proportioned with a nice bloodline with a lot of potential for a long life of calving. She'd be somewhere in the $1200-$1500 range on a good day. A little over $3000 loss.

Hoo boy...

The good news, no death today!!

Here, this video of mine goes well with this, I've got the blues...

6 comments:

Katie said...

Yikes! So sorry to read about your losses yesterday. Hope the rest of calving season is better.

Fletch said...

Awww, Man, I'm so sorry to hear of your losses. That's got to be some kind of tough. And I had to cut-n-paste the video elsewhere, cause my sound card is no more. But come first of the next month...

linda schiffer said...

My entire sympathy on the losses! Sad day ...

My dad was a cattle man, too (dairy, not beef, but still lotsa cows:). Strange critters.

The blues are pretty cool, too! Thanks for the video.

:) Linda

debijeanm said...

I'm sorry. As a suburban girl I can't even begin to imagine how hard this must be for you.

Anonymous said...

O.K. Drank--YOU ROCK!!
Babs

Jerry said...

Great video to wrap up the sad tale. Yep, that part of farming sucks big time. Attrition is a fact of nature, but it ain't fun sometimes.