Three Cheers For #7

The twins, Front and Back are now 2 weeks old. #7 had gotten so confused when she had two babies instead of one and kept pushing Back away from her when he wanted to nurse.

After a week of keeping the trio penned together to help forge a bond, we had to take more drastic measures since she was still not accepting Back unless I was in the pen to remind her that he should nurse.

The split pens kept both boys away from #7 for 4-6 hours at a time.  Front was very resourceful, and would reach between the bars of the gates to sneak a snack while we had #7 locked on the other side. #7 was careful not to let Back nurse the way she was letting Front do.

Next, we set up a buffer pen between #7 and her boys so both were kept away from her milk supply and the boys were then forced to eat at the same time.

It took a full week, and I was just about to give up on the hope that #7 would take both babies when  she decided that as long as Front was eating, Back could join in on the meal!

Mother Black Angus and twin bull calves.#7 stands so patiently, just chewing her cud as if to say she planned this all along.

Although the trio are not quite ready to be moved into the general population of the herd, this is a tremendous step forward after a long two weeks of supervision.

The little family will have more outdoor time and larger pastures as long as the milk supply is cooperating with mealtimes!

Getting The Stink Eye

It’s tough to separate the twins from #7 and put them into their own pen for up to 5 hours at a time. Front and Back give me that look, the one that would melt the heart of any parent or guardian.

Twin Black Angus bull calves.Some people call it the Stink Eye, or Skunk look, I just call it sad. The boys would be so happy to frolic in the small grass field that is next to the barn yard, but instead they are locked in time-out.

I do spend extra time with them while they are in this pen. They have access to water and they do munch on a spear of hay once and a while during their confinement. The do lay together during nap times and cavort around with each other. When I open the gate for the reunion with #7, they tear out of the pen in high gear and skid to a stop at her udder.

Twin Angus calves nursing from momma cow.Usually, one twin goes left as the other goes right. With a calf on each side of her, #7 has no choice but to stand quietly and chew her cud while the two milking machines suck, slobber, slide and relieve her of her precious cargo.

Once finished with the supply of milk, the twins are returned to their segregation pen while #7 goes back out to the field for more grazing. We do this 4 times a day with the last feeding, well into the night, when we let the family all bed down together until early morning.

Getting A Little Outdoor Exposure

The twins, Front and Back are happy to have outdoor privileges even though the ground is still a soggy mess. This barn yard gives them a space to run and cavort around and they are taking advantage of the space.

Twin calves with mother Black Angus.The mother, #7 is content to watch at the twins race from one end of the barn yard to the other at a dead run.

There is still the issue of the mother liking Front better than Back. She is not mean, but tends to push Back away from nursing.

In order for the twins to conform to eating meals at the same time, we have been forced to pen the boys in and away from #7 for a couple of hours at a time, then letting them go to her together to nurse.

#7 is not crazy about the idea and would prefer to have Front with her at all times, but she is willing to try this technique as long as we do not let her get uncomfortable with an udder full of milk before reuniting the family. We still keep the three together all night long, but the daytime will continue to have separation times for momma and babies. If this does not work, Back may need to become a ‘bucket baby’ being fed with formula instead of nursing.

Heads Or Tails

Trying to snap a picture of the newborn twins is not an easy task. Their momma, #7 is a photo-hog and tries to bomb her way into most shots. Being nearly a ton in weight, she is able to make quite a statement with just a couple of steps.

Twin Black Angus newborn bull calves.Once I moved #7 to a separate pen, I was able to get a quick pick to share.

This is the back of Back and the front of Front. Or it is the front of Back and the back of Front.

Either way, the twins are doing well and jump up to nurse when they see me coming into the pen with them, and they go nurse on their own when their tummies dictate it is time to eat. They don’t cuddle up to each other, but they do like to lay within a couple of feet of each other when they are resting. Usually when momma #7 lays down she is in the middle of her two boys.

Mother and twins are doing well. We will keep them in the barn for a couple of more days as we expand the pen to new territory giving them more freedom with each opened gate. By tomorrow they will have access to space both inside and outside the barn structure. This gives the twins time to bond before putting them out into the nursery field with the other cow/calf pairs. This bond will be vital to all three in order thrive in the rough and tumble nursery pasture.

Seeing Double

Cow #7 had a surprise for me this morning as I headed across the river to feed the main herd and the cow/calf pairs in the nursery field.

Black Angus cow with twin calves.#7 had just successfully delivered twin bull calves and was busy trying to figure out exactly what was going on while she cleaned the pair. I missed the birth by less than an hour when I found her with her double delivery.

I was solely in charge of the farm on this day and it took quite a bit of effort to get the family out of the wet, rainy pasture and up to the barn. #7 was not mean but she sure was confused about the newborns and why I was haltering her  babies and moving around in her space while she was trying to deliver and clean up her afterbirth. Continue reading

The Nature of Nature

Teats and bag of a Black Angus cow.Imagine a garden hose that has the inner rubber lining thinning and causing the outer wraps of the hose to expand and grow larger than the intended diameter. Some cows experience that same kind of deterioration.

The cow #7 is 7 years old and she has ‘boobular’ issues. The underlying structure of her teats has broken down as she has been maturing. During the summer and winter months the issue is not a problem, but during calving, her large bag and even bigger teats tend to drag in the mud and the muck leaving a most undesirable dinner plate for newborns. In addition, the extra large teats are quite cumbersome for newborns to maneuver around to get a solid grip for a satisfying meal.

Normally, we would cull this animal from the herd because of the extra care needed to keep her and her calf healthy. #7 has shown herself to be of good gentle disposition where we can get her moved from pen to field easily and she is a wonderful mother who has raised several really good calves that have been sold with a nice profit. She has earned her keep even with the extra work.

It may still be several days, but #7 was looking like she was getting close to calving so we moved her out into the nursery field with the other mothers with babies so that her bag could get cleaned up before she calved. We may still have to help her newborn learn to nurse from the ‘balloon boobs’, but at least they will be clean when she does decide to deliver.