Over the last weekend we had another set of twins (remember how I said twins were a pain in the butt? That’s definitely still true). We also had a different cow that sadly lost her calf last week due to unknown reasons. Losing a calf is horrible and far from ideal but, the fact of the matter is, when you deal with animals you deal with nature and nature is sometimes a force to be reckoned with. These circumstances left us with yet another opportunity to graft a calf (taking one of the twins and giving her a new mother). The video above shows her happily (you can tell this just by looking at how fast her little tail is goin’) having supper with her new mother for the first time.
Getting these two to accept each other is somewhat of an art and will be a VERY long process for us on the .7 Ranch. You may remember from the last post how we grafted that calf by taking the hide from the calf who died and attaching it to the twin just like a little jacket. We got lucky with that situation as the timing was perfect and that method is virtually foolproof. This cow had lost her calf 5 days before the twins were born and therefore we did not have the hide to use.
Because cows connect with their calves so much through smell, it is imperative for the calf to smell exactly like what the cow recognizes as her own. Especially when you are grafting a calf. So here’s the trick. Hairspray. That’s right, I said hairspray. So, we bought the least expensive and most obnoxious-smelling hairspray (10 points for whomever guesses what brand!) and doused the calf with it as well as put it all over the cow’s nose.
Night number one the cow allowed the calf to nurse and we thought we were golden. But remember that nature thing?? Yeah, it was too good to be true. Night number two, the smell had worn off and the cow wasn’t as receptive to us giving her a new calf to care for. Can’t imagine why!? Since that first night, we’ve had to get the cow into the chute morning and night to let the calf nurse. Yesterday we changed our plan a little and decided to put a halter on the cow so we could just snub her up to a post instead of having to get her in the chute each day. So far the cow is letting her new calf nurse when she is tied up and that’s certainly a step in the right direction. We will continue to do this morning and night until we see her genuinely accept the calf as her own and allow it to nurse without human intervention. This process could take a couple weeks but we are bound and determined to make it work. At this point there really isn’t another option. So, if you feel so inclined, say a little prayer, cross your fingers, do a dance… something that will make this momma cow love her new calf, and SOON.