Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Emergency Surgery in the Cow Pasture

This morning's after-breakfast "to do" list included feeding the heifers and dry cows, moving seven cows from the milking herd to the dry pasture, and replacing a small but crucial piece of equipment (a pulsator) in the milking barn.

Performing an emergency c-section wasn't on the list.

One of our dry cows didn't show up at the feed trough this morning. After searching for her for nearly an hour, we found her on the ground with rear leg paralysis. We helped her up with a front-end loader, but she could not stand under her own power. After working with her for a while, we all agreed that she had very little chance of recovery. She was in obvious distress and pain, and we decided the most humane course of action was to euthanize her.

our newly delivered calf enjoying its hay bed
The cow had been only three weeks away from her due date, so we quickly attempted a c-section.  We didn't have any equipment except for a utility knife, but that would prove to be good enough. My dad made the incisions, our two farmhands and I pulled, and in a matter of minutes we were loading a living, breathing calf into the back of the pickup truck. We got it back to the dairy, cleaned it up, laid it in a bed of hay, and fed it a half-gallon of colostrum milk. By the time we finished working today, it was doing as well as we would expect any newborn calf to be doing.

There are times you have to make decisions you would rather not have to make, and this morning was a prime example of that. But this time, at least, there was a silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud.

my dad looks down at the calf he delivered via c-section


Rachel said...

Awww! What a sweet baby! Will you be able to pair her with a foster mother or will you have to bottle feed her from here on out?

Will Gilmer said...

We're bottle feeding it 2 quarts of milk twice a day.