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Shaina Posted - Apr 11 2016 : 11:03:06 PM
About 2 and a half months ago I purchased an 11 month old jersey heifer. I had plans of having her bred at around 15 months. Well, about 3 weeks ago I notice that she is developing an udder. As I look at her more closely, I am noticing a difference in the size of her belly, and what some call "springing" (swelling of the vulva). From what I have read online, a jersey heifer should not develop an udder unless she is bred.
As this is all new to me, I am having a hard time determining how far along she may be. I will attach some pictures, so feel free to let me know what you think!
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
farmlife Posted - Apr 29 2016 : 4:29:48 PM
Good for you Shaina! What an accomplishment to have worked so hard in a challenging and somewhat complicated situation. I bet your kids adore Itsy!
NellieBelle Posted - Apr 29 2016 : 09:21:25 AM
Oh Shaina, Itsy and Cinnamon are so sweet! Little pink rain cover is adorable. Things are looking good. Ditto what MaryJane said. Thank you for sharing the photos and experience.
maryjane Posted - Apr 29 2016 : 07:35:49 AM
Oh my, I have the biggest smile on my face. Just adorable. Thank you for the update and photos. Good job Shaina and family! What a wonderful experience for your kids.
Shaina Posted - Apr 29 2016 : 07:19:19 AM
An update on Cinnamon and Itsy.

Itzy is growing nicely, and is noticeably heavier. I am going to weigh her today. She was 35 pounds at birth. She loves to run with the kids and dogs, although it kind of worries Cinnamon. :)

We have been putting either a sweater or rain jacket on her at night. When the nights start to warm up, we will wean her from the sweater and jacket, but for now it has been getting below 40 degrees and she appears to be cold without them. Even with them on her muscles will shiver. Her hair will fluff when she is cold. But even with her sweater on, after her hair smooths down, her muscles will continue to shake/spasm/shiver (not really sure what to call it).
I have been taking her temperature, and it is staying at 102 degrees, which I have read is normal calf temperature. I am also giving her 2 squirts of Nutri-Drench (Rapid, Rich Nutrition Supplement For All Classes Of Goats and Sheep) twice a day. It contains Calcium, Selenium, Vita A, D, and E.

Sydney2015 Posted - Apr 29 2016 : 06:21:09 AM
Congrats on the calf! The picture is adorable!
maryjane Posted - Apr 27 2016 : 08:44:20 AM
Yes, I would give that girl a good long break and let her give you milk. In her case, you're going to need to make sure she has the very best of feed. Also, make sure you plan for a spring, summer, or early fall calf rather than a winter calf.
Shaina Posted - Apr 27 2016 : 08:33:13 AM
What a good idea to halter the calf early on. I will have to get started!

I hadn't even thought of Cinnamon and baby cycling. We will definitely have to watch for heat cycling behaviors.

I have been thinking about re-breeding Cinnamon. Should I wait until the end of the summer and give her time to finish growing before breeding her again? Or maybe even wait until next spring?
NellieBelle Posted - Apr 24 2016 : 4:03:52 PM
Great news Shaina. Hoping all the best for you, Itsy, and Cinnamon. Sounds like you are doing a fine job.
CloversMum Posted - Apr 24 2016 : 12:01:19 PM
So happy to hear things are improving! I know all of this is a lot of work right now, but it will get easier and settle down into more of a normal routine.

And, Itzy will be so wonderfully tame ... practice with the halter but don't leave the halter on her! They grow fast and you don't want a halter to end up being too small and creating sores.

So good to hear positive updates! Well done.
txbikergirl Posted - Apr 23 2016 : 2:33:13 PM
shaina, its great to hear that things are moving along well. its always worrisome the first few days when nothing went as planned, especially for you when the whole thing was unplanned and a surprise!

if you have a moment search pinterest or google images and you'll see calves in hoodies, sweaters, sweatshirts, etc. so there are a lot of things you can do with old clothing or muck yard cast offs to get you by for now.

the benefit for you here is that itzy is going to be so tame that she'll make an amazing milk cow in a few years ;> make sure you start to halter train her sooner rather than later so she gets used to the feeling, even just wearing the halter while you are around even if you aren't leading her.

most important, but you'll probably never forget this since cinnamon - calves can go into heat as early as 3-4 months... and with three little kids around you'll want to watch for that as you don't want a calf mounting and injuring a child. so i would mark a calendar now and keep watch. once elsa was in her first heat after we got her home, its now 19-20 days exactly for each heat and i am very careful. those calfs are all sweetness and love, until they are in heat and then it is all evil and ugly... b ut for just 48 hours or so.
Shaina Posted - Apr 23 2016 : 1:09:20 PM
A sling is a great idea. It could be like a cow johnny jumper! (baby jumper)

I had wondered is she needed stimulated to defecate and tried it. She immediately passed her stools, and urine. It is kind of convenient, because we can be ready for it.

Itzy (calf) made some great milestones today. She is now drinking from a bottle and walking on her own!!! She still needs help to her feet, but after that she is mobile! She is looking stronger and more alert all the time. Maybe in a few days she will be ready to sleep outdoors. With a coat of course. :) Great idea.
I won't leave her out until I know she isn't going to be cold. Around 7:00 pm it cools off enough that she fluffs her hair and looks chilled. That's when we take her into the house. Once she can get up by herself to walk, we will probably need to move her sleeping area outside.

MaryJane: I am glad you let me know about changing from colostrum to milk. I had just begun warming colostrum for the morning when I read your post. :) Sorry it sometimes takes me a while to respond. With 3 little kids it makes it difficult for me to be on the computer for extended periods of time.

Cinnamon is doing great! I milked her 3 times yesterday and got 2 gallons total. Her cream has been settling on top, and I am pleased to see she has about 30% cream. Yumm!!! I cannot wait to start trying some of MaryJanes recipes in The Milk Cow Kitchen book!!!
maryjane Posted - Apr 23 2016 : 10:11:34 AM
Shaina, thinking of you this morning and hoping all is well with Cinnamon and baby. I have all my fingers crossed.
maryjane Posted - Apr 22 2016 : 7:32:54 PM
I think the sling is a novel idea. I'll remember that the next time I have an animal convalescing that could benefit from some movement. I did a sling thing today with my cows in the squeeze chute so they couldn't get traction with their legs (Ester Lily likes to go down on her knees when we poke her).

Under the front of their bellies and also in the back (right in front of their udders), I suspended them (barely) with two 27' x 2" heavy-duty ratchet tie-downs (Home Depot), padded with three Velcro shoulder strap pads on each strap. It was pretty slick. The vet that was helping me took photos of it for the other vets she works with, saying, "I always love the ideas you come up with for making vet care easier." Made my day! So yeah, slings work.

On another note, one of my older farmhands has a cat companion who recently turned 21 years old. Wowzer. I was quick to tell Jasper we had a few good years left.
txbikergirl Posted - Apr 22 2016 : 08:06:45 AM
shaina, i know you'll need more input from others here but i am wondering if you can sling the calf from the ceiling or something to let it kinda start to use its legs while being supported. i know with the cow anatomy placement is important, and that's why i recommend input from MJ... i did this with a chickend and a dog before when they had health issues and couldn't stand some or at all - it let them exercise the legs a bit and push around, and keep those muscles working even though they couldn't stand all the way. kinda like the baby in the kitchen on one of those doorway swings.

i only did this for 5-6 hours a day, and when i was around, but it worked great. for me i had a porch beam outside that i could do this with.

anyway, just a thought so that if the calf is getting nourishment and going to make it she can also start to use those muscles a bit.

mj, any thoughts??
maryjane Posted - Apr 22 2016 : 12:24:35 AM
Shaina, after 24 hours she shouldn't get any more colostrum tubed down her. Three quarts is plenty. Milk out the rest of Cinnamon's colostrum and get her started on Cinnamon's milk. The colostrum after 24 hours can cause digestive problems. Also, a mother cow will lick a calf's bottom constantly to get a calf to pass its meconium and after that to get it to pass bright yellow, gooey sticky poop that would be from the colostrum. If her mother can't lick her, you'll need to activate her by rubbing her anus using a towel. In the past, I've used spa gloves designed to exfoliate skin.
Shaina Posted - Apr 21 2016 : 11:19:23 PM
Oh yes, we are learning so much in such a short time!
The poor little girl has started to suckle, but not strong enough to suck anything from the bottle. I squirt a bit into her mouth and she swallows it. We are still tube feeding her. So far she has been fed 3 quarts of colostrum. She is still so weak. It seems like she doesn't have the strength to do much of anything. I don't foresee her being able to stand anytime soon.

The calf coat is a great idea. I will try and find something that will work tomorrow. She is back in the house again for the night.

Cinnamon seems to be forgetting about her calf, and even let me milk 1.5 quarts today. That's a huge improvement. My kids petted, fed and talked to Cinnamon while I milked and she seemed to be much more comfortable with the situation. She loves the kids. Maybe they should be doing the milking!! Just kidding.
I have tried putting the calf near her while milking and she seems to get more angry with me, and temperamental. Poor girl. A mommy at 14 months old, and full of mommy worries and troubles.

You have all been very helpful. I appreciate the links you are all posting to direct me to helpful discussions on the HJO chatroom. I should spend more time going through all the topics. Thank you all for your help!!!

I cannot wait to hear how everything goes with the baby that's due next week!!! I hope all goes well with the birth, and you have a healthy mom and baby!!!

This is great, being able to share our stories and get help from each other. :)

I will keep you updated.
CloversMum Posted - Apr 21 2016 : 8:00:03 PM
Darling photo and congratulations on a new calf! She does look small. Yes, our calf last fall did not nurse (at least so we could see) for about 20 hours like MaryJane said. We just took turns watching and observing. Massaging her udder and warm clothes is a very good idea.

Wow, your learning curve just steepened a bit! :) but everyone here is so helpful so please keep asking questions. And do keep breathing and trying to sleep ... this hard time will pass and get better. It truly will.

So happy to hear you got a BoSe shot and those vitamin shots ... incredibly important.

Keep us posted!
farmlife Posted - Apr 21 2016 : 7:44:59 PM
It sounds like everyone gave you great advice, Shaina. I think the hardest part of being a cow owner is breathing through the hard times.
maryjane Posted - Apr 21 2016 : 08:23:13 AM
Oh my goodness Shaina. The pic of them together is so precious.

The problem with cows and let-down is that it ties in with anxiety. So like Janet said, maybe you can put the calf near her. The warm water was a good idea. Once that tiny calf gets a quart or so of colostrum down her, she's fine on that front. Some calves take longer than others before they stand. I've had calves get up immediately and some wanted (needed?) to sleep for a couple of hours first. Charlene thinks her calf didn't nurse for something like 20 hours. Remember, you have 24 hours for her to get colostrum. As the clock ticks, the absorption of it diminishes (early on is best) but up until then you're okay.

Do you have a calf jacket? It can really stop the shivers. I put a coat on all my calves so they don't have to put so much energy into staying warm.

Good job on all fronts!!!!!
NellieBelle Posted - Apr 21 2016 : 08:01:46 AM
Hoping the very best for you Shaina, and Cinnamon and her little calf. Pretty little thing. I never tire of seeing the doe like features on little Jersey calves. Sometimes putting the calf near the momma will help them let down their colostrum/milk. If you are near by and can watch the calf/cow together. I will be thinking of you and your journey. Keep us posted.
txbikergirl Posted - Apr 21 2016 : 06:45:51 AM
oh, and you know a cow will eat its afterbirth, right? just in case you don't see it - she may have passed it and consumed it already.
txbikergirl Posted - Apr 21 2016 : 06:44:54 AM
well, its a GREAT photo and the calf is adorable. the calf does look very small to me, but honestly what do i know?!

my cow will have her calf in two weeks shaina, a first for us but not her. now is the time you will REALLY get busy here on HJO as every week will bring a new question/observation about the cow/calf and you'll get so much practical advice and knowledge here, as well as support.

its great that you are so hands on with the calf, our calf came to us that way and it has made all the difference in the world - we handle her every day and treat her more like a dog than a cow, in order to get her to be our future milk cow.

best of luck, looking forward to updates. blessings from texas for calf health!
Shaina Posted - Apr 20 2016 : 10:19:01 PM
Keeley: Great pictures! I have been looking for some good reference pictures such as those. It is amazing how fast their udders can develop. Cinnamon's udder just became noticeably larger about a month ago. Now we have a calf.

Cinnamon started dripping a water type fluid yesterday around 2:00. Her water broke this morning at about 8:00, and by 9:40 we had a heifer calf. She came quickly, front feet and nose first. :) Unfortunately she will not stand or suckle. We are wondering if she may have been born a bit early, or maybe just didn't get the required nutrients. Calving in April puts Cinnamon's breeding age at about 5 months. Poor girl.

We talked to the vet. He gave us a Vitamin A and D, and a Bose shot for the calf. A feeding tube, and we purchased some colostrum. Cinnamon isn't letting her colostrum down for me. I keep trying, but the most she has given me is about half a pint. We took the calf from Cinnamon, afraid she was going to step on her, and she seems to be very temperature sensitive. We are tube feeding her and turning and moving her body and legs regularly. With the calf not standing we want to keep her blood circulating. I'm not sure if it is necessary, but it can't hurt.

Cinnamon seems to be doing fine. She still has not passed her afterbirth. The vet told us to call if she hasn't passed it by Friday. Her appetite is good and she is drinking plenty of water. She was pretty upset when we took her calf, but after about 4 hours she settled down a bit. I don't know how to get more colostrum from her. Her udder is tight, but she just wont let it down for me. I tried washing her with warm water and milking her 4 times today with no more than 1.5 pints total.

For now we will just keep trying to milk Cinnamon out, and keep her calf warm and fed. She is sleeping in our living room tonight, and probably will be for a while. Like I mentioned earlier, she seems very temperature sensitive. Can't help but wonder if she was born a tad bit early.

maryjane Posted - Apr 19 2016 : 05:38:31 AM
Great links Keeley!!!!
farmlife Posted - Apr 18 2016 : 6:57:29 PM
I just want to throw this one out there, too, Shaina. Here is my documentation of Elli's birth preparation. You may find it helpful as a reference. Janet added pictures of her cow, Nellie, just before birth as well.
She eventually had her calf on April 29th of 2015. I think I started the post in March. I can't even count the times I thought she must be ready because of the mucus discharge. Pretty much when I thought her udder couldn't possibly get any bigger she went another 2 weeks. In the meantime, bond with Cinnamon as much as you can. You will need to have a great relationship with her for all the excitement that lies ahead. Brushing her is an excellent start. Rub dynamint cream on her udder if she will let you.