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.
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%.