September Royalty

September Royalty

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Miracle of Birth: A Photo Essay

Jill - Delivery Room - 1985

I was not one of those women who had a video camera in the room when I gave birth. We had a still camera in the delivery room. But the lens cap stayed firmly attached until after Jill and Brent were whisked away, cleaned up and ready for their close-ups.

Brent - Delivery Room - 1988

Not that there's anything wrong with recording a baby's birth. If no one allowed video cameras in the room, then there wouldn't be opportunities for every expectant mother and father to watch the miracle of birth during Lamaze classes. (OK, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing, since by the time you see the film, it's too late to back out.)

Sorry No. 032. I didn't give you a choice about whether you wanted your birth experience recorded for posterity. Just consider it a teaching moment, like those Lamaze videos.

Actually, Randy also called it a teaching moment for Jake, who has helped with plenty of deliveries but usually takes the role of lead assistant. By the time he got done with his more active role, he may have been re-evaluating his decision to wear a white T-shirt for the day.

No. 032 is a heifer, a cow having her first calf. Randy checks the heifers frequently. He saw that the calf's feet were showing, but the labor didn't progress. He made the decision to pull the calf. This is done to save both the mama and the baby.

We put the heifer in the calving pen, my Christmas gift of 2010. Sometimes cows can be riled up with the birthing process, so having them contained in the head gate is a much safer option for both mama and people.

Since it's hard to see in the above photo, I thought I'd show you another heifer who calved yesterday. In this photo, you can see part of the amniotic sack, which showed before the hooves did in this instance.

(By the way, this heifer had her calf without intervention.)

But back to 032 and her birth story. Jake first splashed disinfectant on the heifer to try to keep the birthing canal as clean as possible. (We've been using the same Tupperware bucket for this job since Randy's folks were in the cow-calf business.)

Then, the guys got the chains ready.

They tie a chain above the ankle on each of the front hooves of the calf. Then they tie the two chains together.

They attach the chains to a calf puller, which is a long rod with a pulley on the end.

They put the leather strap of the calf puller on the cow's rear end.

Then they use the pulley to gently pull the calf from the mama's womb. Here comes the front feet and the head! (Click on the photos to make them bigger).

Welcome to the world, baby!

You can see the steam as the warm baby calf arrives in the cool barn. Randy used his fingers to clear amniotic fluid from the baby's mouth.

And now baby No. 2007 is ready for its close-up. (All our calf numbers this year begin with a "2." That indicates that they were born in 2012. This calf was the 7th baby calf born this year, hence 2007.)


Mama gets the job of cleaning off the baby by licking it. It's part of the bonding process for the pair.

Just one day later, mama and baby are doing well.
Chow time!
And there you have it: The miracle of birth on the County Line.

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I'm linked today with Fresh from the Farm: Farm Photo Friday. Check it out!

14 comments:

  1. Awesome! No video or camera for me either but always for the cows!!!!

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    1. Thanks Jent! We had two more babies this AM. 'Tis the season!

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  2. So was it a boy or a girl LOL! Well told!

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    1. It was a heifer, so she'll get her chance at the birth experience in a couple of years!

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  3. P.S. Your header picture is stunning.

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    1. Thank you! I took it a year ago.

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  4. Awesome, Awesome job Kim! Detailed with good picture support and just the right length.

    Looks like you are having nice calving weather. I hope it continues.

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    1. I know it's probably longer than the "ideal," but I figured if I was going to "show and tell," I needed to show each stage. THANKS! And, yes, we have had decent calving weather. Today is cooler and the wind is really blowing this afternoon. Things are going well, though, so we are thankful for that!

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  5. Great pictures. I am so lucky that my cow has never had to have help. I bought a set of chains the year I bought her as a bred heifer, and I'm so glad I've never had to use them!

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    1. We've had 15 so far, and the guys have only had to pull the one.

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  6. Thank you for showing us the miracle of birth AND the calf puller.. I always wondered what one looked like.

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    1. You are most welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Amazing Kim! I grew up in Iowa and my grandpa was a farmer, but I never had the chance to see a cow give birth. It is a miracle every time!

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    1. We have a foreign exchange student attending our school this semester. The host family hopes to get him out here to see a birth. It didn't work out the other morning, but I hope the timing will come together. Birth is definitely a miracle!

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