Heifer About to Calve - Signs

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I have five heifers separated out from what of my herd remains. I didn't think any were bred to calves before next spring, but...

A couple of days ago I noticed one was bagging up (udder starting to fill out) and the four tits seemed to be noticeably larger. Next day the udder was larger and the area over the tail head seemed elevated. Today they came into the area around the trailer. Since this is the only one which will let me scratch her, I gave her a good scratching and then felt the bag (udder) which was firm, plus when I milked one of the tits I got a couple of drops of what would be colostrum. Area over the tail head is noticeable increased from even yesterday. The, errrrr, rear end is larger (looser) and there is a small string of mucus hanging from the bottom. My guess is she is within 36-hours of calving.

She (an Angus) is bred to an Angus bull, so shouldn't have a problem calving. Just to be safe, I separated her out from the other heifers and will keep her around the trailer to maintain a watch.

Future signs: If she were in with a herd, likely she would go off by herself to a corner of the pasture to calve. Sometimes her mother or another older cow will go with her. How they know I don't have the slightest idea. Near birth behavior is often laying down and getting up frequently. Near the end they may strain, get up and look in back of them.

I've had to pull the calf from about a dozen first calving heifers. Fortunately, I've been able to get all in the headgate so could use a come-a-long. Once the front feet appear I'll give them a couple of hours. After that I will try to help them.

Will see what happens with this one.

Can I send forum e-mail cigars?

By the way, until about a year ago I had a Jersey in the herd just to provide calves. I knew she was about to calve and when out one morning to check on her. When she saw me coming she stood up, came to me and turned around. Two feet and a nose sticking out. Grabbed onto the hooves and pulled while she pushed. Calf came out within a couple of minutes. To this day I maintain she knew she just needed a bit of help.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), November 09, 2001


I know that a cow sometimes knows if she needs help or not, and where to get it. My first cow was small and we always had to provide some help. She was out with the rest of the herd (Montana) but would come up as close to the house as she could get when she was ready to calve rather than find a brush patch. The only time I ever knew of her NOT calving right by the house she came down in the evening, with a calf by her side ... apparantly she knew she didn't need help with that particular one.

-- SFM (timberln@hyperaction.net), November 09, 2001.

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