Thursday, May 23, 2013

No Calf?!

My Mom wanted another milk cow, after her last cow died of old age in her 20's. So she bought a Guernsey bottle calf, and named her Sweet Pea.

The woman she bought her from, transports cows for the dairies, and was told to take her to the auction, but she just couldn't do it to her.  She said she was a tiny premie twin. So she bought her from the dairy, and raised her for about 1 month before putting her up for sale. We didn't know anything about Freemartins when my Mom bought her. When we were informed about what a Freemartin was, my Mom called the woman to find out if her twin was a male, but she didn't know. The twin was born dead, so the dairy workers had already disposed of it before she got there. So all we could do was wait and see. She started coming into heat like a normal heifer, and when she was old enough we had her bred.
We were expecting her to have a calf around the end of this month.
We have watched her belly grow and her udder start to develop.

We have had the cows over on a neighbors property since winter.  Around the beginning of of the month Sweet Pea gave us a scare. The neighbors called to let us know something was wrong with our cow, that she was on the ground, and unable to get up. We rushed over to find her layed out and bloated up. Unable to hardly move or breath. She was so big we could not get her to her feet. So my Mom began rocking her with all her strength. It seemed to get some of the gas out, but not nearly enough. I ran home and called a vet. I ran back, and traded off with my Mom. Then when I was tired, my Dad took his turn. I started to head home to watch for the vets arrival, when my Mom started yelling. I turned around to see Sweet Pea standing. Sweet Pea had tried to get up, and my Dad pushed with all his might. He rolled her onto her chest, and she was able to stand. My Mom walked her home, and we waited for the vet. We didn't understand what caused this. She wasn't on lush pasture. It was drying up, and it had been VERY windy. The vet arrived, and gave her a thorough inspection. He checked to see if she was in labor. Nope. So he checked to see how far along she was, and he said theres no calf. What! No Calf!? How could that be? She looks pregnant. She's developing an udder. How could she not be pregnant? He asked if anything was suckling on her to cause her udder to develop. Nope. Hmmm. He checked her udder, and she had milk. But she is a twin. Is she a Freemartin? So he gave her a very thorough check. He said she is not a Freemartin, but she's not pregnant. That he is 95% positive. We know she's over weight, but he had no explanation for her having milk. He said it's the first case of phantom pregnancy he has ever seen in a cow. We don't know what caused her to bloat. He said she might have started to get a little ketosis (meaning her body was starting to burn its fat, and making her have sore muscles), because the field was drying up. She also might not have wanted to get up in the morning, because of the strong wind. So she stayed laying down, started bloating, and then couldn't get up. But these were guesses, we don't know for sure. All we know is she gave us a scare. Sweet Pea is now home on our irrigated pasture, playing boss of the goats. Her bag has continued to grow since her visit with the vet. So I took the pictures above. I search online for information on cows having phantom pregnancies to no avail. Is there such a thing as a 5% chance of pregnancy?



Stephanie Ann said...

Hi, I don't know very much about cows but I know sometimes some animals have "false pregnancies" where the animal will really think it is pregnant and all of the signs will appear.

I hope everything turns out all right.

Troy said...

I've seen many strange pregnancies throughout my years, and heard of many more. But that's a new one for me!

Kris said...

She's so pretty. And looks pregnant to me. That is strange though. I had a Jersey heifer that was a twin to a bull calf. I sold her later. I wonder if you'll be able to milk her? Have you tried yet?

An At Home Daughter said...

Stephanie Ann~
One of my Mom's dogs had a phantom pregnancy before. My Mom gave her an abandoned litter of kittens to raise. So it worked out perfect. When searching the www for info on cows having phantom pregnancies, it said that goats have them all the time, but cows do not have false pregnancies. I don't know why. Thats why its so weird. The vet that inspected her, used to work for the local mega dairy till it closed. He said he has never seen it happen in cow, but he has seen it in goats.

Natasha Marie said...

Wow, that is weird!! I don't know anything at all about cows, so no ideas here. I've never even heard of phantom pregnancy before. Learn something new every day, I guess:)
I'm glad that Sweet Pea is alright after bloating, though! Bloat, not matter what kind of animal, is never fun.

An At Home Daughter said...

My Mom doesn't want to milk her for fear that if there is the possibility that the vet was wrong. She doesn't want to steal her colostrum. We are praying that she does have a calf.
No one, including the neighbors on both sides that have watched her change, can understand that she's not having a calf.
I forgot to include, that the vet asked if she miscarried her calf out in the field. We would have seen signs. We check on her every day.


Farm Girl Hannah said...

Wow that's kind of scary! Our cow (Maybelline) just had a calf on May 16th and we are drowning in milk! How much dairy can one family eat?

I'm praying that she delivers a beautiful calf for you!

Stephanie Ann said...

We only have a steer so we've never had to deal with pregnancy in cow before.

Let us know how she's feeling.

An At Home Daughter said...

Thank you for the prayers. I love the name Maybelline. Is she a Jersey?
I really didn't know what we were going to do with all the dairy either, but if we were to over flow I'm sure the chickens would love it.


Kara said...

Now that is very interesting! How on earth would that even be possible? But I guess it is, the vet says so. Funny. I know absolutely nothing about cows, so I'm no help. But what a story you'll have to share for years to come! :)

Tiffany said...

I'd never heard of freemartins before--but I read the link you provided and it was very interesting. There are so many surprises in the animal world! I hope you give an update on what happens with her. I'd be very curious to find out. :)