Milk Fever – Bad

Lady Astor went down like ton of bricks yesterday. She walked out of the barn, leaving her baby behind, she walked into the big open field, she staggered a few times – her legs dragging then she collapsed. Her huge body gave up. Down she went. As I ran to her she tried to get up twice, her feet flying out from under her then she would smash to the ground any which way – her legs flailing her belly exposed, her udder hard and huge yet fragile. Rolling and trying to get her bearings.  She was frightened and the ground was wet so she was soon covered in mud. Then she stopped – heaving, laid out in the field.  I reached her and talked to her and helped her get her back to her side and then stood with her against my leg.

Luckily I had my phone in my pocket.

As I called the vet her breathing slowed and her head lowered and she leaned into me.   Her back against my legs.  She was getting heavier. Me being there kind of settled her but I was afraid as her breathing kept slowing down.

I had just got off the phone to the vet earlier that morning, Lady was just not right and I was not sure why. She had not passed the placenta yet but this is not too unusual, but she was not eating properly or pooing yet after the birth. She had lost her temper in the barn and had roared at the calf – frightening him straight out the door.  I had never seen her behave like that before.

I was to wait 72 hours before worrying about the placenta.

I had spoken to the vets assistant. So I called her back. She’s down.  I said. Its milk fever. We need calcium.  I have never seen it before but I’ve read about it. She’s down.

She spoke to the vet in the background then asked me if I could do an intravenous transfer. No. I said. If I get that wrong, the calcium will stop her heart. She spoke to the vet again and he said he would finish what he was dealing with and come as soon as he could.  Not long, he said to her. Not long, she said to me. Not long, I said to Lady as I returned the phone to my pocket. .

I stood with Lady while we waited. Probably a good 30 minutes maybe an hour I have no idea.  I could not leave her – we waited together. It was a long time. Once she tried to rise again and her legs went out and she fell so badly she got her flailing head caught under her body as she fell.  Her head was turned completely back, her neck folded. It was awful. I pulled her head out enough for her to right herself  but it was truly dreadful – my poor big bossy cow,  so ruined.  Her head dropping further and further between struggles.

The vet arrived, jogged into the field with his tin bucket of supplies and gave her the calcium IV, then dextrose, then more calcium  – in under the skin to be absorbed later.  He was very patient and calm. It was incredible. Within 15 – 20 minutes she was standing up. Then she was eating, soon I brought her baby out from the barn and she was feeding him and finally cleaning, and pooing and peeing. Her whole system had been closing down. Now it rushed back into business.

Within an hour she was chasing Ton away again.  It was like magic. 

And later she walked back to the end of the field with her lively calf and hung out there for the last of the day. Disgusted with the whole carry on.

A terrifying day. I have ordered calcium supplements for her to take for a few days. Naturally the cost of the calcium was a third of the cost to deliver them overnight. But I want to do everything I can to ensure that this does not happen again. 

I milked three times yesterday to try and loosen the swollen udder. But today I will milk twice. In fact I am milking shortly.  At 5.30.  Before my workers arise. My mornings just changed. I need to begin a new routine.

A little reading on milk fever if you are interested.

The newest piglets seem to be doing OK when I am in the barn milking. It takes much longer because I try not to make loud banging noises – no bashing the buckets about – but so far so good. One piglet has a minor injury on his leg – I got iodine on it yesterday. Poppy feeds them often and seldom goes anywhere and they have found their heat lamps, so things are much safer now.

I got so behind with the barn house-keeping, with the sleepless nights and all I just realised that they are still sleeping on their birthing blankie. It is lovely and soft.

Ok, I am off to milk my lucky cow.  Very lucky that the vet was able to come out. Milk fever can be fatal if not caught in time.

I hope you have a lovely day.


PS Looks like we have a nice day for a while – so back into the garden we go. Let’s hope the rain holds off for a while. And all my animals have a nice sleepy day

Wednesday 05/10 80% / 0.15 in
Cloudy early with thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 77F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%.
Wednesday Night 05/10 90% / 0.54 in
Thunderstorms likely. Low 59F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%.



54 Comments on “Milk Fever – Bad

  1. How absolutely terrifying – for both of you I’m sure. You just have to be prepared for everything. I hope you can rest soon.

  2. What a scare, and how brilliantly you managed it. Most of us would have seen that big cow go down and not had a clue. It’s pretty miraculous what a simple supplement can achieve, that she’s gone from failing before your eyes to chasing poor Ton around. Fingers crossed her udder holds up and you don’t have an outbreak of mastitis to top it all off. Well done, Miss C. And Bravo, Lady A.

  3. That must have been awful! Poor Lady Astor. I’m so glad the vet could come quickly.
    Those little pigs look adorable 🙂

  4. I think Lady Astor is twice lucky–for you and for the vet. You stayed with her and steadied her in her hour of need. Well done to you both. xx

  5. How scary!!! Glad Lady is doing better ❤ (run Ton, run!) So thankful it happened while you were nearby and not at night!
    Those piglets are totally adorable! 🙂

  6. I am so glad you caught it in time and that the vet arrived, I know you will track and follow it.. you have my heart felt sorrow at the stress you are going though, may the milkings work, may the rest come, maybe it all be alright.. the next 72 will be tough.. hold tight girl.. hold tight

  7. Phew is right… what a scare that was! I am sure we all felt it while reading your account. First not sure whether she was even going to have a calf and all the way to this, poor girl. Some things are like magic, you’re right.
    Something I can’t figure out, and perhaps you know the answer, is how is it she could give birth to a calf, which is rather large, and still — right up to the day of birth — no one can tell by looking at her that she’s even expecting? How much does a calf weigh? Perhaps 45 to 50 pounds? That’s an awfully large mass to hide… and she did. How do they do that?
    Those wee piggies are adorable. I can understand why some would want to take one into the house and keep it as a pet. Only trouble is, they grow and grow and grow and grow……
    Hope today runs a little more smoothly for you! ~ Mame 🙂

  8. I cheated and scrolled to the end to find out how it ended. I was too scared in the beginning and couldn’t read on. Crying. Very relieved and happy that it turned out well. Thank the Gods!

  9. Amazing how fast they can go down and how fast they can recover with the calcium. Thank heaven the vet was able to come. Glad she is feeling better enough to chase Ton.

  10. I am out of breath & squinching tears just reading this. You & Lady Astor & the vet are all to be commended for bravery, fortitude & keeping your wits. The piglets are precious.

  11. Waiting on a vet is terrifying. Thank God she is up and around. It truly is amazing what something as simple as calcium can do. Thank God for vets and simple meds. I use them sparingly but when meds are needed they are lifesavers. You taught me something today. I have heard of milk fever but never paid close attention to it. I am reading the article you linked. Thank you for that. I sincerely hope your day is a much calmer day.

  12. Oh by gosh ..that had me in tears. Not just for Lady Astor ,s predicament but for my poor dear friend Miss C. How terrified you must have been…. Of course l am pleased it turned out ok but its so awful that it happened. I think you need to be in my prayers everynight..that way you will get the help and support. Love you Miss C

  13. Oh my, milk fever is a scary one. at least with sheep and goats we can pick them up and put them in the car and race off to see a vet if we need to. So glad she is better!

  14. Oh my word, just read the attached article. I have calcium on hand for this exact thing in goats but it is not called milk fever as much. It is hypocalcium and causes the goats to essentially eat themselves from the inside out due to the low calcium. I watch for it like a hawk the last weeks of pregnancy and the beginning weeks after birth. In goats it is more prevalent in overweight goats and those fed a diet high in alfalfa or a rich diet. I seriously never read “milk fever” when reading about it. Thank you again. I take it seriously but now will watch even closer.

  15. How very terrifying for Lady Astor and for you. Here is hoping that the day wears well and all will be calm and well on the Farm.

  16. ‘ Oh $%#*&^’ is all I could say right the way through, wishing both you Ladies a better day today. Laura

  17. Frightening! I have never seen milk fever in all my years around cattle – but I’ve always been around beef cattle, not dairy. I wonder if that makes a difference. I will have to click on your link and read up. So glad for all that Lady A has turned around!

  18. How frightening for you and Lady A. Like others have said thank goodness you were around at the time! And thank goodness you have a good vet nearby.

  19. WOW!!! That certainly had to be scary and then the wait for the vet . . . it must have felt like an eternity. So happy everything turned out well.

  20. Now I know why I was still holding my breath yesterday after my comment. I’m grateful your vet was able to come so quickly too. Now hopefully you have a little time to get enough rest to restore yourself. That is quite a shock to the system seeing a creature you love struggling so hard and hurting. Wishing you a wonderfilled day with all things good.

  21. So relieved the vet made it out in time. When I saw milk fever, I was afraid of the worst. Cell phones can be pretty useful at times, can’t they? Even though it’s sketchy coverage here, I’ve at least been able to text my vet while sitting on a hay bale and watching a problem I didn’t dare leave.

  22. How terrifying! SO relieved Lady Astor is OK!!! For your sake as well as hers. So sorry this has happened. Glad you were around and discovered it in time to get the vet there. Glad she is doing better, and hoping she is fully recovered shortly. Incredible how quickly Lady Astor responded! Body chemistry is amazing.

  23. so very very scary …thanks goodness you have a vet who could get there so quickly….hugs to you and Lady Astor.

  24. Oh my friend. I know that had to be so heart breaking for you and Lady Astor to go through. My heart broke just reading about it! I am so glad she is doing so much better now. Thank goodness you knew exactly what it was and was able to get her help rather quickly. And piglets!! Oh my what cuties they are!! XOXO – Bacon

  25. My heart goes out to you and to Lady Astor. It’s torture watching anyone suffer, but feeling so helpless with an animal you love and who is dependent on you is particularly painful. Yay for good and fast vets. I’m glad for the happy ending.

  26. Oh! Thank heavens! What a scary ordeal! And ever so grateful the vet came very soon. I love seeing her running again!

  27. “Luckily I had my phone in my pocket”. Events turn on something so simple. Celi, I hope your reward for being such a faithful caretaker comes to you in the form of sweet rest. Your animals are so lucky. And I think I have said before, hooray for the vet!!

  28. So terrifying! I’m glad there was a good outcome. That article on milk fever was very informative. Thankfully, it sounds like she’s a resilient animal. It will take a while for you to get over this scare but I’m sure you’re support helped her survive until the vet attended her.

  29. The little piglets are adorable! Makes me want to cuddle them! A nice ‘calmer-downer’ after Lady A’s plight. Thank you for putting the world right again, Ceci!

  30. Reading your account of Lady, I got chills and more chills–goosebumps on top of goosebumps. Such a terrifying experience especially when such a huge creature goes down–as someone said above, at least with a goat or lamb you can lift them up and rush them to the vet. Not a cow. All I know is being a farmer isn’t for the faint -of-heart. You, Cecilia, are one tough cookie. I can’t think of a better accolade.
    When my Sammy (half Doberman, half German shepherd) had his first grand mal seizure I almost died myself. He didn’t come out of it but my husband was able to drag him out to the car and to the vet who said at the time he thought he’d been hit by a car and that he pumped him with the more pheno than he’d ever pumped in any creature ever. But Sammy survived; I will always be indebted to that vet for saving Sammy’s life, who lived to 13 years old.

    • Still haven’t read the post, but I see from Kate’s comment that you’ve already turned the corner, so thank goodness for that!!

  31. Oh my, tears in my eyes and heart in my throat as I read this post. Thank god, thank god you already knew about milk fever and for a vet with wings on his heels! Take care.

  32. I’m very grateful that Lady A is okay now. My father told me about when he was working on his uncle’s farm. They lost a cow to milk fever, she went down out in the far pasture and was gone by the time he went to collect the small herd for milking. I think I’d make sure to learn how to adminster the calcium and have the necessary gear on hand, just because you never know what might happen (but then, I’m of a rather medical mindset). Do take care of yourself too. All your creatures need you.

  33. There’s nothing so awful like seeing such a large animal thrashing about. I’ve been there with colicy horses, unfortunately none of those times ended well. No matter how short, the wait for the vet always seems endless.

  34. I used to have a small herd of Jersey cows, so I am very familiar with milk fever. When I read your post yesterday, I was a little worried about milk fever since you milked her out completely, but I understand how worried you were about her huge udder. I used to have quite a bit of luck with the calcium tubes that you administer orally and that can be purchased at Tractor Supply. I don’t know if you have ever used them, but a trick is to warm the tube in a bucket of hot water, so that it is easier to get out. Although they say you need a special gun to administer them (like a caulking gun), I just use a short stout stick to push the stuff out of the tube. To administer, firmly grasp the cows head (or have someone help hold her head) and gently insert the tube in her mouth as far as you can. Then slowly push the stuff out of the tube. If you go slowly, the cow will not fight so and will have an easier time swallowing. After a cow freshens and for a few days after, any time her ears feel cold or she is looking depressed or dopey, a tube should be given. Good luck and congratulations on the beautiful cow. And just think, milk! I love milk!

    • Great advice to warm the paste – mine should be here tomorrow. I did not milk her out completely – can’t really when she is that swollen her teats turn into nubs and the skin about the teats actually cracks and bleeds. But she did put on that udder very last minute – and she is an older cow. But bless her she got through it. I have never encountered it before – now I will keep the calcium paste on hand at all times. c

  35. Your writing is so graphic and real… I was tense as I read, then relieved after the vet visit. C, there are so many twists and turns in life – sometimes we’re lucky as hell and other times there is little to do and we learn, so that we can be more prepared next time. What I truly love when I come here each day (or however often I can manage) is that I find a real caring and compassion for all forms of life and rousting support from like-minded people. A big hug to you, my friend. I hope you get to coast for a while and things keep calm, both in the barn and weather-wise!

  36. The Lady remembered your t-shirt design in the back of her head and knew she could lean on you and somehow draw strength and manage until things came to right. Frightening situation as you waited.
    Life is so dependent on such tiny things we barely understand much less control.
    Gentle pats to both of you.

  37. Oh, I’ve been away for a bit and now I return to a drama and an amazing rescue. She wasn’t even thought to be pregnant when I last visited. What a lot happens in a short time at your farm!

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