I don't like that my first post in this series is going to be sad, but this just happened yesterday and I need to write it down to help my heart. Before I get into too much detail, I am just going to say right off the bat that this little guy did not make it, he passed away late yesterday evening.
It's a fact that everything dies at one time or another, and since we work around so many animals, it happens more often than my little heart likes/can handle. This is the fourth cow we have lost in this last month (I will have a separate post on that later), and it never gets any easier no matter the amount of attachment I have. On Friday afternoon, we worked our Black Brangus cows to get all of the calves vaccinated and tagged, and weaned the calves that were old enough to be sold. I will go into more depth about that process another time, we are working our Black Angus cows this weekend, so hopefully soon! :) Once all the calves are separated, we keep them in a pen on their own so we can check on all of the momma's and give them the medicine that they need as well. Most of the calves are walking around making noises for their momma's and aren't usually laying down because of all of the activity. As soon as we had the calves in place, I noticed that this little guy went to the corner and fell fast asleep. (See picture above) I thought that was very odd and asked my Husband & Father In Law to come and take a look. They both assumed he was sick and was just tired, so when his time came around to tag & vaccinate him, we also gave him some antibiotics to help him feel better.
After all of the momma cows had been let out, and the calves were all tagged and ready to go, we opened the gate and watched to see which calves went to which momma so we could take note incase of a problem. The mommas and babies rush to each other and it's easy to pair up who goes with who, not 85. No momma came to him, and he went and laid down in the middle of the pasture. The thought went through our heads that he might be a twin, and that his momma had rejected him. That meant that he was probably malnourished and needed to be bottle fed (MY FAVORITE, most of the time haha more on that later). I made him a bottle and went and fed the little guy that evening, still no sign of momma. It wasn't until the next morning that we noticed he was sucking from a momma! YAY! We drove closer to see which cow was his momma, and it turns out she is one of the oldest cows in that herd, and was not producing much milk which is part of what was making him so sick & slow. After some deliberation we decided it would probably be best if we separated the two and bring 85 to our house so I could monitor & feed him regularly. So we went and picked him up! (See picture below) Most of the time when we pick up calves, they make a lot of noise and move around a lot making it almost impossible to hold on. Not 85, he was very calm and did not make any noise or move. I thought that was weird, but was hoping that some more milk would perk him up!
We brought him to our house and put him in a special pen behind our house. We made sure he was comfortable and had a nice place to rest before bringing him another bottle. Just a quick thing about bottle feeding, when the calf is used to the bottle and knows what it is, the process is amazing and so much fun. Teaching a calf who doesn't know what the purpose of the bottle is to drink from that bottle...NOT so fun. It is messy, sticky, frustrating for both myself and the calf, but totally worth it in the end. (I will have a post about my other bottle feeding experiences later.) Since he was so weak, we had to hold his head up and 'force' him to drink the bottle. He got the nutrients he needed, but it was not a fun process. I went to wash my hands before coming back to check on him, when I noticed his waste was full of worms. :( My heart sank. I knew that he wasn't getting enough milk from momma, but the worms were what was causing him to be so sick, and that is not an easy fix. In a panic I called my husband and told him we needed to give him some de-wormer ASAP. We gave him what he needed, and knew that the rest was in God's hands.
I came back that evening and fed him another bottle, he was still fighting to take it, but he seemed like he was perking up some. I went to bed feeling hopeful that we could save this little guy! :) The next more, same thing, he was sitting up and took the bottle a little better that time. I felt even better. We went away for a couple of hours to drop off our truck that has a BROKEN TRANSMISSION uhhhhh (so expensive) but came home ready to give him his next bottle. I got it ready and called my sister thinking I could talk to her and feed 85. As I walked up he was laying on his side making noise and shaking on the ground. I hung up and ran to see what was going on. I tried to sit him back up and calm him down, but I knew he was different, I knew he had taken a turn for the worse. I called my husband in a panic (again), and said he needed to come take a look. He did, and his lack of response made it clear to me that this sweet calf probably wasn't going to make it. All 85 wanted to do, and could do, was lay on his side and his eyes would twitch very violently at random. We tried giving him some more milk, but he wouldn't take any of it. All we could do at that point was make sure he was in a comfortable & safe position and check on him frequently. I went up a couple of times every hour and repositioned him and tried to get him to drink milk. It wasn't going to happen. We did everything we could, but there wasn't anything else we could do. I sat with him and tried to comfort him, I don't know if cows know that I am doing that, but it makes me feel better doing it. I left him around 8:30 to go inside to eat and thought that the next time I saw him he would probably be gone.
I went outside around 10 with the hopes that he would be sitting up and that I would need to run inside and make another bottle, but deep down I knew that he probably wasn't going to be alive when I got there. He wasn't. I sat next to him and cried for a few minutes and said a prayer for his sweet little soul hoping that cows have a place in heaven too! I slowly walked back inside, my husband looked at me and I shook my head and started to sob. We sat together and I cried for a while and brought in one of my dogs to snuggle with. As I said earlier, we have cows die multiple times a year so this isn't the first time I have encountered it, but it still doesn't get easier and I cry equally for each cow that we lose. My husband is so sweet in those moments, he's not a crier like me haha but I do know that he does feel sad.
We have a special place that we put our dead cows, so after some time in the house, we had to go back and take him away. Every time we drop off a cow, I always say a prayer and cry (again), and hope & pray that the other cows we have would be healthy and happy. I love cows, and I absolutely love working with cows, but it is so hard for my little heart to handle losing those sweet little souls!
Let me know if you have any questions about anything and I will do my best to answer! Thank you all for reading, again I'm sorry it was a sad post today, but I promise there are much happier ones to come!
Have a blessed day!