Monday, March 15, 2010

Jules Calved---I need your Help!

Yesterday afternoon, Jules had little Juliette. Another heifer, I can't believe it! It was a classic calving everything seemed fine. I was frozen and exhausted though, so I went in for a hot shower before going back out to milk and to make sure Juliette had gotten colostrum. This is when the fun began. It has been SO MUCH FUN, that I haven't even gotten a good pic of baby Juliette yet. I am being sarcastic, and can you read the grouchy undertones?
When I go out, I notice first off that Juliette hasn't stood yet, and even worse--her legs are
"frogged" out behind her. Hmmm, that doesn't look good. When I try to help her stand, Jules is getting pretty defensive. Let's not forget she has one horn left, and brandishes it very well.
So, I coax Jules out and put her in the milk stanchion. I figured I'd milk out some colostrum and just feed it to the calf, so I can be assured she has gotten it. First off, she poops, and swishes her long tail in it, repeatedly. I'm thinking ,where are my scissors. Let's give that tail a haircut.
Then, I got my nice warm wash rag in hand and reached out to wash each teat. WHAMMM! First kick. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but in times like this you have got to move in even closer. I snugged right into her side, and just started blindly washing in the direction of her udder! I was washing legs and a belly, udder, teats, my jeans, whatever I could reach while be buffeting by a constant barage of kicks ! I was NOT gonna stop because that was what she wanted, and this isn't a cow spa. Yes, I adore my cows--but I still have a business to run and part of the agreement is that I need the milk! Now, I am a softy, I always let the cows raise their own calf, and I share with them for 3-4 months sometimes longer if they are generous!
I'm thinking Jules, being a heifer, is a bit confused with all her hormones raging and thinks I'm stealing milk from her own calf.
Somehow, I deflected her kicks and actually got the milk machine on and off her last night and the calf fed. I thought that would be the worst of it......Boy was I wrong.
This morning I go out to milk. The kids are all sleeping, Dante's off to work. It's a busy day, and I was looking forward to seeing the new baby. I peak into the stall, and there's Juliette at the opposite end of where I left her, but still with her legs splayed out. This time I immediately got Jules out, lifted the calf, and she took some rocky steps. Well, at least she can walk a little. That's better. I'm gonna put her on the deep bedding pack where she can get better traction.
Then, I call Jules out, and get ready to milk. It's the same old poopy attitude as last night. Maybe worse. So I reach down and start handmilking a teat, I lean right into her. She keeps kicking me off and I keep grabbing that teat and squirting milk all over my pants. I know that she has to learn, that nothing is gonna shake me off--- and then we'll be fine.
I have no idea how, but after about 6 attempts that she kicked off, I get the machine on and she is seemingly settled down, munching grain and getting milked. Then I don't even really know what happened.
I walked over, squatted next to her, and I think I was either gonna check to see if milk was still flowing or release the vacuum, but without even shifting her weight, she cocked her leg up and kicked HARD, missing my face by maybe an inch. Somehow I got my arm in front of my face and she kicked me in the wrist. Oh, that hurt so bad. That's the most painful kick I've ever gotten. It rendered my left arm and hand completely useless. I really thought she broke it. The machine is hanging under her, and she's stepping on it. It's an expensive and crucial piece of my equipment. I fished it out from under with my one good hand, and then let her go. What else could I do?
I couldn't even use my hand for an hour. Bad thing is, she won that round.
I thought I might have to drive myself to the hospital, but the feeling came back. I still have some shooting pains, and it's hard to make a fist but otherwise it's still usable.
I am use to fresh cows and heifers, I'm not afraid of getting kicked. This is nothing new. But she has me kinda shook up. I'm actually nervous to try again tonight. I won't say scared, because I don't want to admit that. But I need a new game plan before tonight.
I also have a cut and large bruise on my thigh from last night, and I got kicked in the knee this morning too. What if I had gotten kicked in the face?The kids were all sleeping in the house, and no one else was home. I work primarily alone with the cows and usually don't give it much thought, until I almost got really hurt. It was really close, I tell you. Too close.
So, I need a little encouragement to get back in there tonight.
Dante would try to help me, but he is seriously allergic. The kind that triggers asthma, so I feel bad about asking him to come help me wrestle with her tonight. Even if he did, he'd need to probably repeat that twice a day for a couple days anyway.
I'm gonna try the old, " glove on a stick " trick, and maybe Dante can screw an eyebolt into a stud in the milk parlor wall, and I can try to tie off one leg. I don't own a kickstop because usually, I can just move slowly and hang on, and when they can't shake me off they just quit it.
Plus, the hormones settle down after a few days.
You know, she was born in the summer and ran with her mother and was just a very skittish but sweet cow. I do think she'll come around, but for now I need to feel safe enough to milk her again.
It might be a rough few days........


  1. Arrghhh, I feel for you, stay safe, it is no picnic with some heifers. The last kicker I had I had to milk with the calf right there, she wouldn't kick the calf so I could get right in there. It took two weeks and then hormones subsided (on both of us ;o ) and you would never know what an ordeal it was.

    Above all, keep yourself from being hurt - best of luck.

  2. Thanks, Trapper. I sure hope it doesn't take 2 weeks though!

  3. Praying for a better milking today and tomorrow and the day after that......

  4. Oh, Jessika, I am so sorry. I do hope you are not seriously injured.

    There is a way to tie their legs with a rope that keeps the from kicking. I don't know how to do it as we have a kick stop but perhaps someone else knows or you can find a way.

    Is the calf nursing on her at all unassisted? Does she kick at the calf? Perhaps you can bring the calf into the parlor and let her nurse on the front teats and you can at least get the milker on the back (behind her) just to get her use to it. It's harder for them to kick the milker off when it's behind them and with the calf in front maybe she won't kick? Just an idea. I have milked from behind like that when a cow had really bad edema and I couldn't get the milker on her back teats any other way.

    Stay safe and let us know how it goes. I will be thinking of you!


  5. Well, I survived! Dante stood next to her and leaned on her pushing her onto the leg she was trying to kick me with. She couldn't really lift it to kick. I don't know what will happen in the mroning. The calf is nursing a bit unassisted, but she is still fragile. Jules has bad udder edema too. I watched the calf nurse tonight and Jules actually lifted her leg in the air and held it there. You could tell it hurt, but she didn't want to kick Juliette.
    It's so hard when things don't go smoothly. I think we're gonna get there after a few more days though. She's gonna produce pretty well too.
    Nice high tight udder.

  6. Glad it went better tonight and that you had help! I hate to think of you out there alone with a cow that is kicking like that. Poor baby girl. I hope she gains strength and is bouncing around soon. I love her name.

  7. Thanks, Tammy. I was shaking but trying to project confidence! Not easy....Juliette is just the sweetest little thing. It's like all her ligaments were really loose. I haven't had that happen before but I've seen a few of my Dad's beef calves like that and I think they were fine and running around a few days later. Still makes it nerve wracking, but I was so glad to see her up and nursing on her own!

  8. Oh my gosh! Glad you are ok! Training first calf heifers can be so scary!
    I was going to suggest the rope around the belly trick to help her not kick--it puts pressure in the same spot as the kick bar.
    Hang in there milkmaid!!

  9. Thanks, Liz. I just might try the rope around the belly tommorrow.