Wednesday, February 16, 2011

DAISY - The Story of the Orphaned Calf

It was an icy cold day in January 2008 when the temperature was so cold you didn't want to go outside. Somewhere out in the pastures of a neighboring ranch a little baby calf was being born.  Both mother and calf had a strenuous time during delivery. 

Back at our ranch we had a white Long Horn cow named Kris who was ready to give birth any day.  Kris was a second year mother, however, with her first birth, the year before,the baby didn't make it. The baby calf was born in the wee hours of the night in the middle of a fierce rain storm.  We will never know if the cold was too much for this poor baby or if it wasn't healthy enough to survive.

The mother cow at the neighboring ranch had pushed for quite some time and to her dismay her womb gave out and began to protrude with the calf still inside. The pain this mother cow must have went through was unimaginable.  With the rancher's help and a vet on the way the baby calf was miraculously born alive.  The mother cow was tended to very quickly. Her womb was sewn back up and the wait began.  She risked many complications and the baby calf risked being orphaned.

The mother cow lived only five days until the infection set in which took a toll on her and ultimately took her life.  The new baby calf was orphaned.  This meant the rancher had to find a surrogate cow or bottle feed two to three times per day for months.

On our ranch, Kris, the long horn, went into labor the day the neighbor's mother cow died. Once again it was another stormy ice cold night when she had her calf.  The new calf was struggling to hang onto life when the cowboys found her laying lifelessly on the cold ground. They gave her every chance to survive by giving her warmth in the barn and even mouth to mouth resuscitation. Unfortunately, it only lived a few more hours before it passed away.  We had no warnings or obvious signs as to the cause of its weakness and ultimate death unless it was simply the extreme weather conditions that took its life.

There we were with Kris, the calf-less mother cow, who cried out for hours with piercing calls for her baby calf after it was taken away from her and just down the road was the neighboring rancher with a baby calf who needed a mother. 

The rancher happened to call and offer to our oldest daughter, Hailey, his orphaned calf if she was willing to bottle feed and care for her until she was able to eat hay.  When we explained we had just lost our baby calf the rancher said, "hold on to it, I will be right there." and hung up the phone. 

We met in our barn where we had the dead calf and the rancher brought his orphaned calf.  The rancher explained that if Kris, the mother cow, was a willing milk surrogate mother to his orphaned calf then it would be a perfect fit. The mother would have a new baby calf again and the baby wouldn't be orphaned any longer.  

The way this was done was by placing the hide of the deceased calf onto the orphan so that the scent of the mother's calf was present then she would allow the orphaned calf to nurse. It is a in a sense very similar to organ donation as I had explained it to my daughter.  

We all waited for about three hours to see if Kris would take to the orphan but  she was uncooperative.  She pushed and nudged the orphan away and got down-right mean. Kris would have nothing to do with the orphaned baby calf.  From that point on we knew that this baby would have to be bottle fed and cared for by us.

We began by making a lukewarm bottle with calf milk replacer and she took to it immediately. It was a feeling of accomplishment after all we had been through so far.  

Next, we gave her a name, Daisy. Her cute face reminded me of the antique mug I used to drink out of when I went to my grandmother's house.  The mug had the face of Elsie the Cow from Borden's Milk printed on the side.  

Daisy was no longer an orphaned baby calf because she had many two legged mothers taking care of her day and night. She was given a straw filled stall with a large turn-out in the barn where she was pampered and cared for until she was ready to join the herd.

Along the way, Daisy became a member of the family rather than a cow on a cattle ranch. 

Here are just a few pictures of the day she came to live with us... 

This is the baby calf that died and 
donated her hide to Daisy.

This is one of the cowboys laying the hide
on Daisy in the cattle trailer she was brought in.

The hide was attached with a twine that
held it in place.

Daisy was shunned from Kris the mother cow.

This is Daisy now, three years later, being scratched and pet by Megan. She still loves people, back scratching, and pats on her head even after being in the herd for two years now. 

We love her!
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