Calf Trouble

I had driven the cows up the steep pasture hill and into the barn that early morning and noticed that one of them showed signs of having had her calf during the night. However it was unusual for a cow to come to the barn without her newborn in tow. So after chores and breakfast I went all through the pasture hunting for the calf. The cow showed no interest in what I was doing. Usually even if a calf was born dead, the cow would stick close by for a while.

I found the calf lying in some weeds. It seemed perfectly all right. I got him up and started him walking on up the hill. In a short time he seemed to tire and wanted to keep lying down. Well, I thought he must just be a little weaker than most young calves and maybe the cow had not let him nurse. I let him rest a while and started him on again. We went only a short distance and he flopped down again. This time he stretched out, shivered a little, and laid still. He was dead!

I guessed that he might have had a heart attack.

Did the cow somehow instinctively know the calf was not right, decided to abandon it? The whole event was a little weird. Usually a calf even a few hours old could frolic and run around faster than I could.

Such a thing had never happened before and probably would never happen again. A couple weeks later a second calf was born in that same remote part of the pasture. It was a big, husky bull calf, probably weighing 80 or 90 pounds.

This time I got down under the calf and lifting him to my shoulders, carried him up the hill draped around my neck like a scarf. The hill seemed pretty long and steep by the time I got to the top. But the calf was feeling fine!


Charles E. Page 2003