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February 17, 2021
This may be hard for some to read but I wanted to share some reality about ranching and the struggles we encounter during calving.
I lost a calf last Friday. It was a first calf heifer (first time mom) and she gave birth in the shed. We were working cattle and were keeping track of the time. Dan said, we need to check that heifer, to which I replied, "I will when I take Carson into the house."
After I took Carson into the house, I quietly walked into the shed. Not wanting to make a lot of noise as this can startle the cows and puts them on edge when in labor. I see the Angus heifer in the pen, laying down with steam coming from behind her. Good, I thought, she had the baby and just needs to get up to clean it.....I was wrong.
Immediately I see the amniotic sac is still over the calf's head, neck, and chest. I rush into the pen, rip if off and can see it isn't breathing. I yell for Dan and begin to administer CPR. I try and try. Dan comes in and breathes some air into its lungs. Nothing. It had not been gone long.
My head drops. We both get up and walk away on defeat. The calf never came back.
Now, I know it wasn't my fault. The heifer should have gotten up and licked the amniotic sac off of the calf. That's what they are supposed to do. It's their natural instinct to go take care of their calf right after birth. Start cleaning them with their tongue. Dry them off and get them going. She didn't. It doesn't happen often but it does happen.
I beat myself up over this. I should have gone into the shed earlier and maybe, just maybe I would have caught this just in time. The what ifs and maybes can be consuming, however, we have to continue on and care for the next calf that needs us. Hoping for a better outcome when/if this happens again.
I share this story, not for empathy but for an understanding as to the lengths we go to take care of our cattle. Many ranchers across the country are dealing with extreme weather, power outages, etc., and are also calving like us. Please keep ranchers in your thoughts.
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