We bought two bull calves to help me take Penny's milk. She hated them on sight, but I put her head in the stanchion, locked it, and put the kicker on her, so she really didn't have much choice. She still tried to kick them, but with the kicker on, she couldn't do any damage. That was Saturday morning when we first got the boys home. Penny didn't seem to feel very peppy, but she'd had a hard night trying to deliver a calf.
Saturday evening Grace and the bull came up from the pasture. Grace was mooing herself silly. Penny wasn't with them. Now, cows are herd animals, so when you see one animal missing, you know without a doubt something's wrong. Cliff and I searched as best we could, but we're not able to climb the gullies and hills on our place, so it wasn't a very thorough search. The first thing that came to my mind was milk fever, because it appears Penny is going to be a very heavy milker. Jerseys are prone to milk fever. Usually, however, first-calf heifers don't have a problem with that condition.
The grandson and Heather went looking... did a little mushroom-hunting while they were at it... and found Penny at the bottom of a canyon, lying down. They couldn't make her get up, but their Great Dane convinced the cow to arise, and the kids drove her slowly out of the holler and up to the barn.
I got her in, but she wasn't interested in grain and wouldn't put her head in the stanchion, so I put a halter on her and tied her securely so she would be forced to let the new calves nurse. She still fought hard, but they got their supper. Because she was so lethargic, I was still thinking perhaps milk fever was a problem. Cliff and I talked it over and I went out several times to check on Penny. I noticed she was grazing, and at one point she was chewing her cud. So I decided to wait until morning, see if anything had changed, and call a vet.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention that afterbirth was still hanging out of her. Retained placenta. So we really needed a vet anyway, to deal with that problem. This time I had a choice in who I called, so I chose Oak Grove Animal Clinic and set up an appointment with Dr. Neal. He arrived on time (impressive), put some boluses (pills) inside the cow, and gave her a shot to make her cycle, which he said would help get her uterus back to normal. Then we had a nice visit about Dr. Findley, the guy who established that veterinary practice and is now retired. When I inquired, I found out it would cost $18 each for him to dehorn our new baby calves; I told him we'd just use dehorning paste as usual, then. He didn't know about dehorning paste and was surprised that it is supposed to be used on calves under the age of one week. I told him we've used it for years, but really hate to because it's nasty stuff to deal with. It did, after all, destroy part of Penny's ear. But at six dollars a bottle for something that will dehorn at least 15 calves, compared to $18 for the vet to do one calf, I guess we'll keep on doing what we've been doing.
I liked Dr. Neal.
This morning Penny had a new lease on life. She came trotting into the barn, went straight to the stanchion, and started eating her sweet feed. She still didn't like the calves, but didn't fight them so viciously. I pulled the calves off her after ten minutes or so because I didn't want them to have belly-aches later and then milked her out. She stood like a statue as I milked her. The tide, evidently, has turned.
Now we wait for several weeks to find out if she will re-breed. Sometimes when a cow has had retained afterbirth, there are breeding problems. If that should happen, I would raise calves on her until her milk supply diminished and then she would end up in the freezer. Meanwhile, all is well.
Penny says "good morning". Notice her right ear, which was damaged by dehorning paste as a calf.