Fact is, Abigail’s only mothering fault is her udder. That’s a pretty important consideration. Devastatingly so.
A cow’s udder has 4 quarters. Her front two became extremely enlarged several weeks prior to delivery. The enlargement extended all the way down into the teats. They became sore and painful and she didn’t want to allow the calf to nurse from those two.
My friend stopped by the night the calf was born. I put a halter on Abigail and held her steady, easily, while he got the calf to nurse from the rear two quarters. That oh-so-important colostrum milk is essential for a healthy calf within the first 24-hours.
However, when he tried to milk down those enlarged/engorged front two quarters, Abigail wasn’t quite as cooperative. So, into the barn we went and we improvised a make-shift chute. He was able to tie her back leg so that kicking was minimized and got her milked down.
The next day, the swelling was back up, as bad or worse. Once Pig-Farmer got home from his traveling job, we attempted to do the same milking procedure. Abi wasn’t having it. We decided to take her into the veterinarian’s over one of us getting hurt.
Having been a show calf, Abigail loads on a trailer like a jewel, so away we went with cow and calf.
At the vet’s, the good Dr. inserted cannulas into the front two teats and let that milk and pressure drain away. She also got a steroid shot. The calf got some extra nourishment and vitamin/mineral shots. Back home we came.
The next morning, the calf was successfully nursing from three quarters, but one has stayed problematic. It should not look like an inverted 2-liter bottle:
The good news is that the little boy is doing well with the other three.
As long as the situation continues to go well and no new problems develop, Abigail and baby will soon be out on pasture.
The bigger issue at hand is that the veterinarian confirmed what my friend warned me about. This is a genetic issue and tends to be more common in Herefords (my favorite breed). If we were to continue breeding Abi, it will now get worse with each calf. Since it is genetic, it is likely that Pumpkin Pie would suffer the same issue. It is not a desirable trait. Not at all. It is not something that we want to be bred into cattle for the future. Therefore, we will have to “cull” them out … which means, basically, for us, selling our “herd,” when the right time comes. I’ve had my pity party. For now, I get to enjoy watching this beautiful, playful calf,
and just make the coffee.