Daisy and Goliath

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Monday morning when Harland checked on the cows he noticed one of them had had a calf in the night. He got the cow and calf, a rather small one he thought, out of the lot, eartagged the calf and turned them both out into the pasture with the other cow/calf pairs. He wondered why the calf was so small, only about 60-70 pounds, (most of our calves are 80-90 pounds) but didn’t give it much thought after that.

The next morning, another cow had had a calf, and as he was getting them up out of the lot he noticed a lone small calf, going from cow to cow trying to nurse. Poor thing.  No one would let her nurse so Harland decided some cow must have had her in the night and rejected her. He got her up out of the lot and put her in a pen. Then he looked over the cows trying to find the bad mom who had rejected her baby….but no one appeared to have had a calf.

Where did she come from?

And why was she so small?

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He pondered over her small size…hmmmm….small size… 60-70 pounds…….

A-HA!   Twins!   This one was a twin to the small one from the day before!

Cows are programmed to take care of only one calf at a time..it’s nature’s way. So when a cow has twins, she’ll mother one of them and walk away from the other thinking it must be someone else’s. When Harland found the cow and her newborn on Monday morning, he didn’t see any other calves. The little rejected calf must have been curled up somewhere out of sight, so he didn’t notice her until the next day.

After Harland found the rejected calf he put her in a pen, and gave her some colostrum, antibody-filled first milk that calves normally get from their moms in the first 24 hours of life. It’s essential to having a strong immunity against illness and only works in the first 24 hours. The calf was more than 24 hours old now, but it was worth a try and hopefully the calf had possibly nursed at birth before she was rejected.

When I got home from work, I watched as Harland gave her evening bottle. Calves don’t naturally take to bottlefeeding and it’s a bit of a wrestling match at first. It usually takes a couple days before they figure it out. (We hadn’t checked the calf’s sex yet so we kept mistakenly calling it “he”.)

After she finished her bottle, she was a little slobbery:

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But oh-so-CUTE!

Just look at those short little legs,

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fawn-like profile,

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and doe-like eyes.

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She’s just so adorable. I’ve named her Daisy. So delicate, so precious…so…so….

So unlike this creature!

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The same day Harland found Daisy, this creature was born. He’s huge! Unlike Daisy’s delicate 60 pounds, this calf weighs in at about 110 pounds! He’s SO big and was curled up SO tightly in his mother’s uterus that his front leg tendons didn’t grow right and were contracted, preventing the calf from straightening his legs out and standing.

Harland put him in a sling on the back of the four-wheeler and hauled him up out of the lot and into a pen with his mother following closely behind. Then he put leg braces on the calf and sent me a text:

Goliath

“The latest in calf fashion.”

The braces straighten out the legs stretching the tendons and providing support for the calf to stand. Contracted tendons are a common problem in calves that are very large. It also occurs in young horses, and I saw a nature program one time on TV with a baby elephant that had it.

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Hmm…He’s so big, he kinda looks like a baby elephant.

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He looks grumpy too.    Grrrrr….

I’ve named him Goliath.

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The braces are kept on for a few days and then removed. By then, the tendons have stretched out allowing the legs to straighten on their own and the calf to walk normally. We get at least one calf like this every year.  Harland will probably remove the braces either today or tomorrow, and then turn the cow and calf out into the pasture with the other cow/calf pairs.

We’ll keep Daisy as a possible replacement calf if one of our cows loses a calf at birth.  We hope it doesn’t happen, but for Daisy’s sake it would be a good thing as she’ll grow better and be happier with a real cow mom.

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But until/unless that happens, we have a bottle calf to feed and love on.   Awwww….you cutie you!

So far, we’ve had about 20 calves, and have a LOT more to go.   Stay tuned….

xoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

13 comments to Daisy and Goliath

  • Years ago when I was dating my then boyfriend, whose family lived on a small farm, we walked
    into the pasture to check out the new calf and check the others about to calve. We jumped over this trench that had been scooped out to allow a natural spring better access to the outlet,and so the water didn’t spread out too much and flood the pasture.
    As we jumped over the trench, I looked down and there was this small, drowned calf, under the water. My boyfriends Dad, had not known that the cow had twins and this little one fell in the trench. Seeing your little Daisy reminded me of the little one lost, so many years ago.
    mm,vancouver,wa.

  • Love your story and look forward to updates! In 26 years of running a cow/calf operation, we’ve had several sets of twins but either they didn’t survive or the cow rejected one. Finally, last fall we had a set that survived and the cow accepted both. We still supplemented with milk relacer to be sure they both received a good supply of nourishment, then later added a calf grain mixture. Their names are Freddie and Flossie, like the Bobsey twins. We have friends who had a first-calf heifer who successfully delivered triplets this spring. Coincidentally, one of their other heifers and a cow had lost their calves and both accepted a triplet. Match made in heaven!

    • Suzanne

      What a perfect ending for you… Love it when things all turn out well. Harland said he had a set of triplets once, but they all died – got tangled up with each other during birth. Your cow must have been pretty special to have had all 3 live ones.

      Well, we had another set of twins this evening. We watched from a distance for a while to see which one was the stronger of the two, and then took the weaker one from her. She would have accepted them both, but we could tell it was going to be too much for her. We gave both calves colostrum, and put the other twin in with Daisy. She got a case of the sillies when she saw him and was skipping about the pen. For his part after he had his colostrum, he collapsed in exhaustion. Poor guy. The cow was tired too and lay down as soon as she could. Now we have Daisy and a roommate. What to name the new one…. Hmm… We can’t recall ever having 2 sets of twins in a season.

  • This is just so interesting. I’ve heard some stories about twins, and knew a little about that, but the business of having to wear braces to stretch the tendons was all new. Daisy is a cute one, and as for Goliath — well! Even from here, he looks big. Clearly, most of the world doesn’t have a clue how much work this all is for you farmers.

  • JB

    I want to come take care of your bottle calves! That was my job growing up and I loved it. Also “mothered” the bottle lambs. Gosh, wish I could do that again….. not much chance married to an architect though.

  • Nancy

    I learn so much from your lovely blog! Thanks for sharing your world. It would be awfully hard not to get too attached to sweet Daisy.

  • That little Daisy is adorable! I didn’t know that about the tendons; Harland can do everything, can’t he??
    The dairy farm across from my childhood home had Guernsey triplets born a few years ago. Apparently, that’s rare. They had magnets made with a picture of the three, and shared one with me.

  • I hope Daisy does well! Have fun taking care of her…she’ll be spoiled in no time, I’m sure! 🙂

  • Jeanne L

    Awww! Daisy is a little doll! I got a chuckle out of her reaction to her roommate! I hope he’ll perk up and do okay. You’ll have to name him Donald, I guess! Is he as small as Daisy? Interesting, about Goliath’s legs – saw a similar thing on Animal Planet, but it was a Pit Bull puppy, and they wrapped her little legs with bandages, finishing off with pink and blue vet wrap! She was so cute!

  • Tina

    So cute! I love Daisy. I also think Donald is a great name for the other!

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