Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Floppy, making the right decision

Now things have settled down a bit and as promised I will fill you in on the weekends events. It was a long weekend, in more ways than one, Monday was Labour Day, so it was labour weekend. And boy did we labour, Labour day is an annual holiday to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. And has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. Well we didn't get our eight hours of rest!!

Back to Floppy, it was pretty clear Sunday morning that things were not going well for him. He had laboured breathing, not rattly but big sighing breaths. His tummy was quite swollen and he hadn't been peeing without help, I shan't elaborate on that last remark!! ;-p
We decided to get him out into the sunshine and he actually spent the longest time on his feet since being born, but there was no direction to his movements and he just wandered aimlessy until he hit an obstacle, it was then I wondered if he were blind. We found him a shady spot and lay him down, he didn't make any attempt to move after that point. Joe called our friend 'G' and neighbour who is a dairy farmer. If Floppy looked like he has any chance of survival G would know. He took one look at him and said, 'No!' He pointed out the swollen belly, the fact that he was unresponsive and also that he smelled bad. He reckoned that I had done more that was necessary, and he offered to take him away and euthanise him. I agreed that it was time, there was nothing more I could do. I cannot and will not knowingly allow an animal to suffer, the kindest thing we can do for them is to end their life quickly and painlessly if there is no hope left. Before 'G' came over I had made a call to another dairy farmer (there are a few dairy farms on our road) as I knew he had new calves. He had 3, one was taken the other 2 were destined to go on the bobby* truck. We took the only bull calf, a Murray Grey/Jersey cross, then the fun began with mothering him on.

Mothering on a calf to a cow that is not it's mother can be a pretty harrowing thing to do! We haltered Isobel and tied her to the rails in the yards, then as advised we shackled her back legs with rope to restrict her leg movements if and when she kicked out, which she did a lot! Luckily the new little calf knew where to look and braving kicking hooves and a very disgruntled cow went for the milk! He got a good feed and it went surprisingly well considereing Isobel was not happy. At one point she threw her head up caught Joe under the chin and damned near knocked him out! After the calf had stop suckling, I put the calf back in the bay out of harms way, because she had given him a hard time in the paddock earlier and I didn't want him getting hurt. Before I knew it Joes was yelling out that Isobel had fallen over and the halter was still tied to the fence! Shit!! No knife and she couldn't get up, I hung on to her for dear life whilst Joe ran to get a knife to cut the halter rope. Man I felt sick, that would have been a great end to the weekend if she'd managed to strangle herself! Anyway Joe cut her loose, she jumped up and made for the hay and started eating! She is the most amazing girl. It was bloody scary there for a while though.
Two lessons learnt here, DON'T tie the rope and ALWAYS have a knife handy.

When we tried the next morning we were better prepared, we still shackled her legs and only wrapped the halter around the post and we tried again. There was still some kicking and barging about but she let him feed, we constantly stroked and talked to her throughout trying to keep her calm. Then bugger me if she didn't suddenly try to twist herself away and fell over again, this time the halter released quickly and she was up on her feet straight away, which was good really as the calf was underneath her! She had fallen right on top of him! By this point I was ready to hit the gin and spend the rest of the next week in a drunken haze. Calf however got straight back on the teat and fed off all 4 quarters, calf went back in the bay and Isobel got a treat. We realised at some point during all this fun that it was the shackles on her legs that were upsetting her more than the calf, so we took them off, gave her some more slack in the halter and things improved greatly.

This morning we got the calf on again, still some kicking and the poor wee fella got caught a good'un on the chin! Every time Isobel kicked, Joe kicked her, she got the message quite quickly. If she was bad she got told off, if she was good she got lots of loving and stroking and soothing voices. More of the same tonight and it will continue twice a day until the weekend, if she doesn't look like she's going to accept him, I have a big bag of calf milk powder on standby. There has been a small amount of headway each feed time and earlier Isobel followed me around to where the calf was and licked him a couple of times through the fence. So we might have some success, who knows.

Thanks for listening and for your kind words over the last few days, I will try and remember to take my camera with me later and I can introduce you all to the calf. He has a name by the way, it's an 'F' year, so all names begin with F, funny that! He is called Friskey :D

*bobby calf
–noun British, Australian .
a calf no more than a few days old sent to slaughter for veal be slaughtered for veal.

NB the calf we brought home is quite small so he wouldn't have made the weight for a bobby, so would have gone down the chute. A by product of the dairy industry :(


  1. Aw Sue, sounds like you've had a weekend of it! Also sounds like you're making good progress with Friskey xx

  2. I always tie horses to fences with a loop of bailing twine - so bailing twine around fence and then horse rope tied to twine. Saved me, the fence and the horse many times when they've gone burko about something and reared up - the twine snaps and no harm done.

    That aside, I was thinking, after reading your post yesterday, how hard it is to make the decision to put an animal down. Its really difficult when you want to cling to hope that somehow they'll turn around. I have been in situations where people are unable to make that decision when it was needed and have let an animal linger.

    I think you can take huge comfort in that you made the right decision at the right time.

    I hope cow bonding happens quickly and that it all gets a bit less full-on very soon.

    Hugs and a glass of red


I love reading your comments and I thank you for taking the time to write them. I do my very best to reply to every one of them right here on the blog. When you leave your next comment tick the 'email follow up comments' and then you'll get any replies I leave. Thank you for reading my blog.