Monday, March 21, 2011

A Calf Is Born!

Over the years I have tried to take a series of pictures of a cow giving birth to a calf.  Most of the time the lighting is bad, or the weather is bad, or the cow is uncooperative.

However, last week I got a pretty good series.  Hope you enjoy it.  I have added some information for those new to cows calving.

This photo was taken about 30 to 45 minutes after #785 started to calve.  The front feet are both visible and the nose is showing, meaning all is well.

Another 10 to 15 minutes and all of the calf is out except the hips.  If the calf is small enough a cow can just push the calf out in this position.  In this case the calf is too large to be simply pushed out.  It's called a "hip lock," but it is usually more than just the hips.  A large calf's leg bones, near the stifle, and its tail form sort of a three pronged plug.  The leg bones press against the inside, bottom of the pelvis and the tail and backbone press on the top of the pelvis.

At this point the cow stands up.

Standing up serves two purposes.  One, it lets the fluid drain from the calf's throat, lungs, mouth and nostrils, and two,  the calf's leg bones--pressing against the bottom of the cows pelvis--create a fulcrum, and the calf's weight pivots the tail and backbone through the pelvis ahead of the legs.  In this photo you can see the fluid drain from the calf, as well as the calf's backbone and tail pressing through the skin below her tail.

One final push!

And her baby is on the ground.

Licking the calf off doesn't just remove the slime, it also invigorates the calf, like a massage, and get him breathing and moving.

Less than two minutes later he's trying out his new legs.

"Although I'm not very old, I already know how to get out of a tight spot."