Monday, February 28, 2011

Birth Announcement

So we have a new addition to our family...of Simmentals.  On Saturday, February 19, my ma and I were filling the hay feeders, and I tried to capture calf cuteness with my camera as I walked around among them.  That was when I noticed a 14-inch long string of mucus hanging from "Lizzie"'s lady parts. Now typically, cows in labor don't chow down so we were a little surprised that Lizzie was filling up on the forage.

Once we finished distributing feed, then went in the barn to make sure the maternity pen was ready. Mom hollered "Lizzie!" and I told her she'd crap her pants if Lizzie walked through the door. Well, Lizzie did come walking right in, with only a slight hesitation before going straight through the gate into her calving pen.  Mom did not crap her pants. Neither did I, although I was definitely more shocked that Lizzie did answer to her name.

As soon as she entered the pen, you could tell she was not comfortable.  Since Lizzie had never calved before, we decided to stay a bit just in case there were any problems. After about 40 minutes, and not seeing any hooves yet, Mom decided to check out the calf's position. The calf was in the correct position - front hooves coming first, followed by a nose - but Mom noted that the feet were "huge" and we would be staying for the duration of the birth.

Shortly after, things progressed quickly...until the head started coming out. Mom grabbed some extra pieces of baler twine (we'll be investing in calving chains before our next bouncing bundle of bovine), and stepped in to provide assistance.  The owner of the facility where we house our cows also joined the birthing team, and the three of us pulled as Lizzie pushed.  Finally, the head was free and we kept momentum on the calf as the rest of it spilled out onto the ground. It was a big, big boy.  When we used the calf tape on his front hoof the next day, it gave us an estimate of 132 pounds, plus or minus up to seven pounds due to shrinkage or fill. The average Simmental bull is about 88 pounds, so I figure Lizzie having the bull was like a woman having a 12 pound baby. Naturally.

I have named him Little John (after Robin Hood's right hand man) but he is already the same height as Magnum, a 3/4 Simmental, 1/4 Angus bull calf - and paternal brother - born seven weeks earlier.

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