• A Sad Day on Haley Farms

    Posted on February 3, 2011 by in Cattle, Farm, livestock care

    Sorry to say but this blog post will have no smiles or happy pictures as I am writing it on a sad note.  On our farm we strive to keep our cattle content, happy and healthy.  People ask at times about how we feel about the livestock in our care and today’s experience is a good illustration even if this is tough to put down on the blog. If there is a calf that appears to be feeling under the weather, we know that we need to take action right away to make him/her feel better otherwise the calf’s health may continue to go downhill and reach a point that we can no longer help it.

    In normal fall and winter weather calves grow and strive well on their own. Problems normally occur when the weather is constantly changing, stressing the calves natural immune system.  A herd of cattle is no different than a school full of kids, when one gets sick watch out!  Therefore it is important for me as their caretaker to be on my toes and monitor the health of each individual animal constantly.

    Over the past couple weeks we have been dealing with the effects of some drastic shifts in weather conditions on our farm and the aftermath of calves getting sick.  We have been keeping on top of it having the vet come out, doctoring calves and making sure they were properly nourished.  Unfortunately, sometimes doing our best just is not enough.

    Two days ago we noticed a calf that was not feeling well, we immediately doctored it up then placed him and his mother Shadow into our sick pen inside the barn.  Yesterday we noticed he still was not improving and found it necessary to give him some electrolytes to make sure he did not dehydrate.  Throughout the night my wife was on duty and noted he seemed to be doing a bit better and felt it best we have the vet out to check him again this morning.  Unfortunately this morning when we arrived at the barn we found him there lying still, and to make matters worse, another cow had given birth to a stillborn calf right before we arrived. As my wife shed a few tears and tried to console the confused mothers on what had happened, I was left to remove the calves from their pens.

    I was left to question what I could have done different, did I not notice the calf was sick soon enough? Did we medicate him properly? Did I call the vet soon enough? Should we begin giving preventative medicine to prevent other calves from getting sick?  Did we not check the cattle enough last night? These are all questions we all ask ourselves when anything dies before its time.  I think we did all we could for them, but will continue to evaluate our practices and hope to minimize the chances of it happening again.

    For now, it is time for me to return to the barn. The storm the other day knocked out power to the barn, requiring extra work, including having to haul water to the cows. It’s a sad day on Haley Farms, yet we still have a herd to care for and that means there is a lot to do.





  • Terri

    Just found your blog while looking for a way to soothe a cow that just lost her stillborn baby. My heart is bleeding for her while she cries and cries. We had 5 other calves born healthy, although one calf did something to its hoof & now we have to change his bandage once a week for a year. Another calf required bottle feeding until we could get the mothers milk flowing & teach the baby how to nurse. All this while we also run a winery, vineyard and B&B. The stillborn tears us up, tho, and feel your pain at the Haley Farm for all you must go through. Farm life is tough & the losses are heartbreaking!

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  • Marlysue Holmquist

    Thanks for your message.
    I have another baby calf on my back porch this morning – inside the house! I heat towels in the dryer to warm them and work with electrolytes. This is the 2nd calf this week. I lost the first, but I’m seeing progress with this one. You do everything you can with the animals in your care.

  • http://www.friendsdriftinn.com/ Joyce Pinson

    Spring always offers hope. Hope of good weather, new life, and of fair winds blowing. This winter has been tough on all creatures great and small. It is so heart wrenching when you loose an animal! Hopefully, spring will be kinder to you Farmer Haley! Blessings to you and yours!

  • Dr. Travis J. Thompson, DVM

    Hind sight is always twenty-twenty when you sit back and look at any case with animals. Believe me, no matter what the out come is, the question always runs through my mind…. what could I have done differently? All you can do is just chalk it up to experience! You guys run a great operation. I enjoy the posts that you share with us on Facebook and on your website. Your good times will out shine the bad! Good luck with the rest of your calvings! Your E. Norwich Roommate Travis.

  • http://orangepatchdairy.blogspot.com Shannon Seifert

    Mike, so sorry for your loss…I know all too well how that feels. Best wishes in the coming weeks, and for all livestock farmers, I pray for better weather!

  • http://snoqualmieragingfallsfarm.blogspot.com LoriL

    I am very sorry for the trouble that has come to you, your family and farm. Sending prayers for this situation. Comfort and Peace to you.

  • http://www.txfb.org/TxAgTalks/ Mike Barnett

    Do farmers care for their livestock? This post says it all. Thanks for sharing, Mike.

  • http://www.walkinginhighcotton.net Jamie (@va_grown)

    So sorry to hear! I wrote recently about losing a calf too. Sometimes you try everything you can, and you feel so defeated when it doesn’t work! People think that because you keep going, you must not feel it so much and that’s so NOT TRUE. Thanks for sharing. Hope things look up soon!

  • Rory Soeder

    Pam and Mike, I am so sorry for your loss. I know what those animals mean to you. I have never seen anyone put there heart and soul into them like you two. You know that we are all thinking about you. Take care and love ya’ Rory

    • Mary

      I am so sorry for the loss of the calves. As a farmer, I have also had to deal with the fact that sometimes, even the very best we can do will not save every animal. I am a nurse too, so I see the same thing in patient care.

      All the farmers I know work extra hard when they have livestock to see that they have proper care because it happens year round. We may be going out at midnight in the middle of a thunderstorm, or mowing hay under a metal roof when it is 98 degrees with 98 % humidity, or hauling water, hay, feed to animals in the middle of a blizzard. Thank you to all the farmers who read this for being dedicated to your work.

  • Mica Veihman

    I’m sure this was tough to write Mike, but thank you for sharing. It makes me proud to know my food is coming from people like you and Pam who truly care for your animals during the time they have here. I don’t know how people can look at farms like yours and ever say you don’t care for your animals.

    The part about Pam comforting the mothers really hits me hard.

  • SAV01

    Thank you for sharing this, sad though it may be. It gives those of us “non farmers” a glimpse in to how difficult it can be for you. I hope the weather improves and that the weeks ahead are better for you. God bless.

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  • http://www.aminuteattatime.blogspot.com Teresa Schoellkopf

    I am so sorry to hear about y’all’s loss down there. Acclimation can carry such a finicky set of requirements. Unfortunately – no fair amount of time is offered – especially, when needed most.

    I have to wonder. Would it be less heartbreaking / more cost efficient to skip a breeding when such a rough winter is anticipated? But then – Mother Nature seems to be taking on very precocious behavior, lately – which can make those type of projections difficult.

    Keeping y’all in my prayers. Let’s hope things calm down and leave the rest of your investment alone.

  • http://www.slowmoneyfarm.com Jan

    So sorry for your loss. 🙁 Hope warmer weather shifts soon – easier on animals and people.

  • http://rusmenfarms.com Mendy Sellman

    This is when I wonder if the people who are against us would have what it takes to do what we do…..it takes a strong and caring individual to be so dedicated to the level of care farmers give their animals. Hang in there, and keep up the great work, remember: we provide the most basic human need to people. God Bless.

  • http://www.celestelaurent.com Celeste Laurent

    Thanks for sharing.
    I know it can be tough to get through days like this on a farm, let along sitting down to write about it. I commend you for sharing this side of farming, its heartbreaking and exhausting but its the price we farmers pay to keep putting safe and healthy food on tables around the world.
    Praying for your calving season to finish out smoothly.

  • http://www.kellymrivard.com Kelly Rivard

    I can totally relate, Mike. I’m sorry your day started off on such a sad note. Losing any animal, especially the young ones, is hard. I know you and Pam did your best. Here’s hoping that you have ease throughout the rest of your calving season and that any sickness stays where it was and doesn’t spread. Best wishes!

  • http://www.kst8er76.wordpress.com Michelle Tucker

    So sorry to read the sad news in your post. I can relate to those same feelings. Hope the rest of the week improves.


  • Cheryl Day

    Feeling your pain Haley Family! We put our heart and sole into caring for our livestock and when we lose one it is like losing a member of the family. Give the family a big hug and this rough. Thank you to your family for being compasionate caretakers of your animals.