Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Miracle of Birth

In these days of sexual harassment claims, I probably should have gotten this heifer's permission about posting her personal "business" all over the internet.

Goodness knows, I didn't want video cameras or even still cameras documenting the birth of my first offspring until the action was over. And even then, I let the Lamaze coach and the guest of honor be the focus of the star's first-ever photo shoot.

However, I guess it's in No. 638's "contract" for room, board and plenty of food that the Chief County Line Correspondent gets to have exclusive coverage of her baby's birth story.
The heifers are in a corral to the east of our house. That makes it easier for Randy to check them more frequently and gives us easy access to the calving shed. Because they are first-time mothers, Randy checks the heifers throughout the day and night, just in case one is having difficulty.

No. 638 had been showing awhile, and after an hour, Randy didn't see any further progression. We ran her into the calving shed to pull the calf, something we do to help both the mama and the baby.
We put the heifer in the head gate, 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.
The guys 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. It was part of our inheritance.) Just like on Grey's Anatomy or Chicago Med, they gloved up for the procedure.

Then, the guys got the chains ready. Randy took our employee, Shawn, to a calving school in January, since he hadn't been around a cow-calf operation before. Shawn wanted to put his education to use, so Randy had him take the lead.

They tied a chain above the ankle on each of the front hooves of the calf. Then they tie the two chains together.
They attached 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.
They sometimes pause to wait for another contraction.
The baby comes out with the front feet and the head first. (Click on the photos to make them bigger).

Welcome to the world, baby! The guys pulled the sack away from the calf's nose and mouth. 
Mama gets the job of cleaning off the baby by licking it. It's part of the bonding process for the pair.
We left them alone to get to know one another.
Later, we found that mama and baby were doing well.
However, another heifer needed some assistance, so Randy carried the calf right outside the calving shed, where mother and baby continued getting to know one another. Otherwise, it probably would have stayed in the shed until it was completely dry.
But soon it was ready for chow time!
Meanwhile, it was No. 659's turn in the birthing suite. The video below is from that birth. That calf is doing well, too. They have been the only heifers of the 24 that needed help with calving, and ironically, it all happened on the same day. 

Welcome to the world from Kim Fritzemeier on Vimeo.

And there you have it: The miracle of birth on the County Line.

Last evening, I decided it was time for a "well-baby" check. Here they are: No. 807, whose mama is No. 638 ...
... and heifer No.  659's calf, No. 808.
Their rough start doesn't seem to have slowed them down. I had to chase them around the lot, trying to get a suitable "class picture."

Speaking of which, I am using an old camera right now. My current camera, which is still under warranty, needed a trip to the repair shop. So I pulled an old camera from the box for a substitute. Every time I try to use it, I remember that there was a reason I replaced it. Thankfully, the birthing photos were before my current camera quit working. And, best of all, I got a phone call yesterday, saying my camera was on the way back home.


  1. You got some great pictures here, Kim! Wasn't it nice that they calved in the daytime and not at 3 am?! I never tire of the miracle of birth...although the process can sometimes be quite stressful.
    I like the picture of 808 with her tongue out. I never seem to quite get that shot!

    1. Thanks! I wish my "real" camera was here, but at least I have a backup to use.

      Yes, I am thankful that both the births happened in the afternoon. It's better for my beauty sleep - ha!

  2. The highs and lows of farming. I particularly enjoyed the video. I hope the remaining members of class 2018 arrive without any drama.