Thursday, September 26, 2013

Winning and Losing

Bastille, AKA Spotty, a few days before she calved

A week or so ago I was home pretty much alone. Of course, my SWD Valiant heifer finally decided to have her first calf that day. As I have mentioned before I have waited nearly thirty years to own a milking Valiant daughter.

I had a couple of other heifers, one died, one was sold I guess. The boss tried real hard to buy me one back in the day when we did such things, but in the eighties Valiant was THE bull and they were expensive. One I picked out at a sale went for over four thousand...way outside our budget...and went on to become a nationally known show cow.

Thus I was really concerned when things didn't look quite right when Bastille came down in the morning. You could see she was calving, but she wasn't progressing.

We brought her in the barn to check her and found that, although the calf was presented properly, it was huge, and she just wasn't opened up enough to pass it through her birth canal.

The calf was at least alive at that point, as it pulled its head back when we checked her. Tincture of time is often the best medicine with a heifer calving like this. I bedded her up in a comfortable stall, we gave her some calcium just in case, and I settled down to wait.

Hours passed. She progressed very slowly. There was a point where there were feet and I could maybe have intervened and pulled the calf. It might have lived then. Might.

However, there was every chance that the heifer would be injured, and I would lose her and still maybe lose the calf.

So I waited until it was clearly time to offer assistance and went ahead and pulled the calf. Alas, it died.

And so comes the second guessing. Was there a better time to start pulling it? Could I have saved the large bull calf and the cow? You never know in cases like that. I think I did the right thing, letting the cow take her time. There is potential for ripping important body parts, pinching pelvic nerves and doing all kinds of egregious damage being too quick with intervention in calving. And then you sometimes lose the calf anyhow.

At least Bastille, who will from now on be called Spotty, because no one can remember her name, lived and with careful daily attention is doing well. We like her a lot; she's a daughter of my old Beausoliel cow, and a sister to Bama Breeze. She is very sweet and friendly and I am happy to finally have an SWD Valiant daughter.

Wish I'd saved that calf though.


Rev. Paul said...

Most folks will never know the agonizing over medical decisions involving livestock, nor of losing a valuable animal.

Matt said...

I've helped dogs, cats, and even an alpaca before. With good results and sad ones.

All we can do is our best.

Terry and Linda said...

Like Matt said, all you can do is your best... I would trust you will all my cows if I had too, as I know you care and you understand and truly love the animal.


Cathy said...

Those of us who have never experienced events like this . . can only stand in awe at the pressures that have to be shouldered . . . the decisions . . . the loss . .

Jeffro said...

Sorry for your loss....

And you did what you were supposed to do when you were supposed to do it. Some things were just never meant to be.

June said...

You've been at this long enough to know when and what to do. Things happen . . . you followed your best knowledge and at least you still have your cow, healthy and well.
It must be very very sad, though, to pull out a dead calf, so I am sorry for that.

threecollie said...

Rev. Paul, you have to trust yourself. You have to trust in guidance and listen for it....and then just hope you do the right thing.

Matt, that is the exact right of it...the best we can

Linda, thanks, that is a really kind thing to say!

Cathy, I felt so bad about the calf! These decisions are usually done by committee, "What do you think?", "No, what do you think?" until there is a consensus of many years of experience, shared credit when things go right and other shoulders to help carry the blame when they don't. This time it was all on me and a lot harder on my mind.

Thanks for your kind words, Jeffro, in my mind I know you are right. My heart is taking a while to catch up, which is why it took me so long to write of this.

June, thank you so much. I know you are right, but it is taking me a while to get my mind around it. And I AM so very grateful to have My little spotted one. She is a nice little cow and a dream come true.