As you might remember, the lil' brown calf died on March 9 and we brought home the orphaned black calf on March 10. We've been struggling to get the cow to accept the calf ever since. The calf wants nothing more than to have a mamma that he can nurse from...Annabelle is just being a stinker...she threatens him by slinging her head at him and stomping her back hooves...but doesn't ever actually hurt him.
The day before yesterday, I was ready to through in the towel and just bottle feed the lil' guy...it would be a lot easier than going through the frustration with Annabelle. We took off the hobbles and turned them both out with the rest of the herd hoping that she'd step up to the plate and take care of her calf...24 hours later...nothin' doin'. I decided we'd get him separated out and just start the bottle. So, I've got him alone in the pen and am working at getting him into the stall to feed him and Annabelle comes running and bawling to the gate "what are you doing to MY calf?" Pffttt...alright, I put her in the pen with the lil' guy and she wants nothing to do with him. CRAZY damn cow! So, we bottle fed him and left him in the stall for the night...and fed him again in the morning.
Meanwhile, I'm Googling last resort ideas for grafting a cow and a calf...and came across an inspiring blog post at Double H Photography (photography, writing and ranching in rural Wyoming). She had written a post called "Calf Adoption Services" where her fiance had a bottle calf that didn't know how to nurse from a very willing mother cow (he wanted his bottle!). I know, the opposite of what my problem is...but she said "This would not happen like this at my house."
So...what did they do at her ranch? Maybe she could give me some pointers...couldn't hurt to ask, so I emailed her, and she sent me back a couple of very encouraging replies. "Sounds like you've won half the battle, if not the war, since she at least likes him when he isn't trying to eat!" said Heather.
|Day 11...the best feeding so far.|
So, My Man and I are back at it again...I had visions of
We've always had to put her into the lead up to the squeeze chute so she wouldn't threaten the calf when he tried to eat. This morning, I gave her a bit of hay (she had not had any hay since last evening's feeding), got her to stand against the fence in the corner, threatened her with my stock stick when she was going to be nasty to the calf...and the calf nursed while she ate...it was success! She didn't act nearly as cranky!!!
When the lil' guy had his fill, I put him in the arena next to her pen with water and a handful of calf starter grain, gave Annabelle half her breakfast, and plan to go out at noon to do it all over again. The plan is to keep her a lil' bit hungry, and she gets a reward for standing for the calf...and she also gets to have her bag pressure released...I hope she'll put two and two together and realize the lil' guy is a good thing.
|Rear approach...it'll be so nice to see him stand next to her instead of behind her. But this is where the calf feels the safest...even though he keeps getting cow crap on his head...poor thing!|
There you have it...we'll just keep pushing forward and pray for the ultimate success...a pair!
BTW...thanks Heather for all your help!
Oh...another BTW...my "pool time" photos from yesterday were taken almost two weeks ago when it was almost 60 degrees and Rastus just wanted into any water he could find. Now we're back to ice on the water tanks again and feeding in insulated bib because the wind chill is down to 10 degrees. Yep, it's spring!