A Watched Cow

Everyone knows the saying “A watched pot never boils”, but when you’re hungry, you know you can’t look away from that water – watching the bubbles start to form on the bottom, anticipation building that they will break the surface….What you may not know is how much a cow can resemble a pot of water, at least figuratively.

Cow number 446 is a Kuckelcow (like all of the 400s, 500s and 100s at our farm).  Her name, given to her by the Kuckelmans’, is Trouble.  Trouble is a big old cow, and was giving a lot of milk at the time we purchased the Kuckelmans’ herd.  She was nearly 300 DIM (days in milk, or the number of days since she had her last calf) and had been bred, but had not been confirmed.  She was an impressive cow, and her former owners conceded that she was their best, but it was clear that they didn’t like to play favorites.  All of the Kuckelcows that made the journey to our farm have either had calves, passed away naturally, or been sold – except one.

Much to our disappointment, a few months after we purchased the herd, Trouble came in heat. We didn’t get her bred on our first try either.  Or our second.  At most farms, I imagine she wouldn’t have gotten many more tries.  For a herd in our position, trying to make genetic improvements, she’s the kind of cow that we want not only to be in our herd, but to have daughters that join our herd.  Sure any herd would want that, but we may have wanted it just a bit more.  When we finally confirmed Trouble bred she was nearly 600 DIM.  We dried her off 3 months ago, and she was due to calve on May 30th.

Her due date came and went, and she really wasn’t showing any interest in calving, or any signs of being ready to calve.  But last night (June 4th) she looked ready.  She acted ready.  I checked her at 10:30 pm – no calf.  I set an alarm for 1:30 am – she looked that close.  I’ll admit I accidentally fell back asleep after shutting that alarm of, but at 5:00 am – no calf.  But now even more signs of calving.  Noon – no calf.  3:00 pm – no calf.  We waited, we watched, and we hoped for a heifer.

No such luck, though.  At 6:00 pm, something didn’t seem quite right.  Trouble wasn’t trying to have her calf, but it looked like the calf might be trying to come.  After confirming that the calf was alive, David made the decision to go ahead and pull it.  The calf wasn’t backward, but it wasn’t quite positioned correctly.  At 6:30 pm he delivered a healthy bull calf.  Trouble looked weak, so we decided not to milk her and gave her some calcium and something for energy to hopefully perk her up.  We’ll see how she milks in the morning, and we’ll sell that long-awaited calf to a beef farmer.  And maybe in a few months we’ll try using sexed semen to breed her back.  We’ve watched that pot too long to end up with another bull calf.

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