As mentioned in an earlier post, I had pulled in four of our cows because they should be due to calf soon. Bally, the old bald face cow, was showing signs of getting ready to have a calf when I brought them in, and every day, we’d look out the window first thing to see if she’d had a calf yet. We were both getting a bit frustrated, as she was showing all the signs, but nothing was happening.
Until last night when I went to feed. There was a small bubble, very tiny, but definitely a sign of eminent birth! When Chris got home, I told him the good news. Since he was going to be out in the shop getting some things done, he said he would go check on her. Time crawled by, and eventually he made it out to go check. It was 10:00 pm, dark, and cold, and I was thinking of heading for bed as soon as I was done with my evening house chores. A few minutes after he left the house, my phone rang, and it was Chris telling me that I needed to get out there, she’d had twins! Naturally, I didn’t believe him as I figured he was just pulling my leg and wanted me out there. But I put on my coat and boots and found my way through the darkness to the fence line. When I got there, Chris shined a light on Bally, and yup, he was right, there were TWO calves! Wow! We no way expected twins!
The other cows were milling around Bally, getting her frustrated as she was trying to defend one calf, then the other one. I grabbed a bale of hay and took it into the paddock next to the pasture and called in the cows. All of them came running except for Charlotte, our youngest calf, who was stuck on the other side of the fence. I closed up the gates as Chris tossed some hay to Bally, and after checking her calves from a distance, we headed back in, planning on checking on her a bit later before we went to bed.
About an hour or so later, we went back out to see how they were doing. We were concerned that both got some milk and if they were up and looking good. The second calf still looked pretty wobbly, but the first one was all curled up napping. Chris was sure that both had gotten that first important drink of mom’s milk, so we went back in to get some sleep. We were hoping that they were both heifers, but we couldn’t tell last night. If there are twins, and one is a bull calf, the heifer calf has about a 90% chance of being infertile. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemartin)
This morning, Chris was checking the calves with the binoculars from the kitchen window when there was barely enough light to see anything. Later on, I checked on them as I fed the rest of the crew. I thought that maybe they were both heifers, but wasn’t certain. The little white faced calf was still seriously wobbly, and I noticed that the right front leg was bending backwards at the knee. Not a good thing, but it should be able to grow out of it, hopefully. I took some photos and video (http://youtu.be/w-gGIJhPbTw ) and left them alone. (Had some stock dogs that wanted to get too close to the calves during this filming, hence the low yelling, growling from me!)
I called Chris to let him know that they were both still alive, but the one was pretty weak compared to the other. He had me call Robert Tracy, our ranch neighbor to the north. He told me that we really needed to get the cow and her twins into a smaller area so that she would bond strongly with them, and we could keep a better eye on them. He stated that twins really take a lot out of the mom, and that we should feed her grain.
When Chris got home, we drove out to the pasture where Bally and the two calves were, and Chris put the little ones in the back of the truck and we lured Bally to a stall with a run that we’re going to keep them in for awhile. The barn will help keep them protected from the weather, as the breeze was pretty cool off and on throughout the day. And Bally will enjoy the free grain that she’s getting. When we left them, they seemed all settled in.