The saga of Gertrude calving began on Thursday night, when it was cold and pouring down rain. These ladies choose the best time to go into labor.
Dad and Greg monitored her for a good while, and once a hoof popped out, they thought the calf-drop would be imminent, but it never happened. So, after a couple hours and a call to the vet, they determined the calf was dead, and since the weather was so bad, the vet would come in the morning to pull the dead calf.
I was a bit sad because I was pulling for Gertrude all night. She's our only brown cow (pretty ain't she?) and she had trouble the last time she calved, so we had already decided if she had one more dead one, we'd get her knocked up again and sell her.
When the vet came on Friday morning, he was surprised to find the calf was coming out all four feet first. Normally, they come out front-feet first, like you would enter a slip-n-slide. So, he rotated her and pulled her and what do you know? She was alive! Meet Beyonce #1.
She was a bit raspy and gurgly, but apparently the umbilical cord was still attached and her head was in the sac, so he got the surprise of his life. Truly, he was shocked. He gave her a shot of something to slow her breathing a bit, Gertrude gave her a couple nudges, then slowly walked off to the back of the field for a breather.
Since the rest of the cows were in the corral, the vet vaccinated them for the next couple hours. Then, his wife called for lunch, so he headed out.
Dad went around the property and noticed little Beyonce "bouncing around" beside Gertrude and came to the house and gave us the good report.
"What do you know? That calf is doing great! She's up with Gertrude all the way along the back fence!"
It was about 2 hours later when the boys went back to where Beyonce #1 was originally laying that they realized, Gertrude had gone of and had another calf. Twins! And both girls, which is a good thing.
Here are a few things about cow twins that I learned:
- The twin with malpresentation (ie. All hooves coming at once) has a 72% survival rate at 72 hours, but a 65% at 200 days.It will take Gertrude longer to come into her first heat after this pregnancy.
- Brown Swiss have an 8.9% chance of twins (Gertrude is part Brown Swiss)
- With Boy/Girl twins, there's a 95% chance the female won't be fertile (this isn't a problem for us since both calves are heifers): Freemartinism in heifers results from twinning when embryonic membranes of a male and female conceptus fuse during gestation resulting in exchange of blood between the male and female fetuses. Endocrine factors or cells from the male calf cause abnormal development of the reproductive organs of the female calf resulting in infertility.
- You can learn anything on the internet.
This information also came in handy at my doctors appointment today. I went in for my ultrasound to see one sac, one tiny (5.3 mm) baby and one heartbeat (114 BPM). While in the consultation with my doctor, who is notoriously serious, I quizzed him on freemartinism, knowing that IVF was developed from cows and he might know something. He took the bait, and thought and thought, but couldn't remember the significance. I suppose he likes brain-teasers, so I need another one before my next ultrasound in 2 weeks. Wish me luck!