Penny's Copper Baby

If you missed the news, Penny had her calf! David got home early so he was watching the kids while I did chores.  He normally does the hay but since he had the kids I decided to do it.  I'm so thankful I did it in this order, but I threw the hay out to the cows before going to the basement of the barn and then did the chicken chores.  While I was in the basement of the barn I noticed Penny standing there so I looked up to see why she wasn't going out to get hay.  I saw her back end with her membrane hanging out and next to her on the ground was a baby calf.  He was still wet and hadn't walked yet.  

First 12 Hours

We needed to get colostrum and a calf coat since it was in the middle of the snow squall.  Thankfully Penny gave birth inside and during hay so I could close the door to help warm them up.  David started our propane heater but that worried us with all the dry hay in the barn.  So while he drove to the store to get the items I kept checking outside to make sure we didn't have a fire. 

Colostrum is important to give to calves regardless of their start in life.  If a calf misses colostrum the first day they will die - there's literally a 99% chance of certain death.  So many farmers give colostrum anyways, just in case.  This is why some sale barn bottle calves don't do well.  The seller says they received colostrum, but without a guarantee the calf may die.  

David got back from the store with the items and we made sure the calf was comfortable for the night.  Penny had never had a baby before so we needed to make sure she was going to accept the calf.  Then since it was in the middle of the snow squall I woke up at midnight to make sure the calf was doing okay (David was working overnight).  The next morning came and they were both doing great!

Next Few Days

Now once the cow gives birth it's important to watch the mom and the calf to make sure they are bonding.  First time moms are known to abandon their calf, step on it, not let it drink, and overall just be a jerk to their calf.  Penny is a pretty good cow, but we were really relieved to see her be such a good mom. 

The other cause for concern is how big her "bag" or udders were getting.  The calf was drinking but her bag just kept getting bigger.  Penny is a dairy cow, a Jersey breed specifically.  Jersey's are known for the quality of their milk vs. a Holstein which is known for how much they can produce.  So I wasn't very concerned with her producing TOO much milk, but just like humans, a cow can get mastitis if the milk isn't flushed through. 

So I learned how to milk.  Penny was patient with me (if a little annoyed because the udders are sore after the milk comes in) and allowed me to pull and squeeze to figure out how to get milk to flow. The first day I removed about a gallon for her to have some relief, then the next about half a gallon.  I'm hoping she adjusts to her calf but I did buy a milking machine to pull out more a lot faster. 

Now We Just Need It to Warm Up

In the winter we don't scoop up the manure in the bottom of the barn.  Allowing the manure to compost with the hay actually helps heat it up.  It's also only used about once a week for really bad weather.  So right now we have some concern with the baby calf being in the barn, but it's just too cold outside - he might freeze to death while we are at work.  So no great solution, but we are desperately hoping it warms up enough that he can go outside and get some fresh air! 

P.S. Also thank you to Julie Neuman for the name idea! Penny's baby is reddish, so she thought of the name "Copper"! Perfect for a Penny :)