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.