Input needed for last few weeks of gestation

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Christina R., Jul 21, 2004.

  1. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    My 24 mo. holstein heifer is due to freshen on Aug. 16th give or take what God determines. I have her on alfalfa/grass hay combo and she gets grain in the evening (about 4 cups). I have iodided loose salt mix out for free feed and there is usually baking soda and goat minerals that she gets into. What should I be doing for this last month other than praying that the lil' one is in the right position? This is my first experience at all this. I have a great vet and two other people that will help if things head south. Thanks.
     
  2. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You should not be feeding alfalfa to a dairy cow before freshening, you need to reduce calcium intake at this time so the cow begins the hormonal changes that allows her to release calcium from her body for the great demands that will occur after calving (alfalfa is high in calcium). If the cow cannot release calcium for the milk, she may be prone to milk fever. That said, I don't think milk fever is common in first calf heifers, but better safe than sorry.
     

  3. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to go buy timothy by the end of the week. That should give her 2 or more weeks of timothy...should this be okay?? Is the clacium business the only thing I should be thinking about or is there something else? Thanks for the input.
     
  4. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Cristina, like I said, milk fever is rare in heifers, should be ok. I would get a good loose mineral formulated for dry cows. Cows are pretty hardy critters, and as long as she seems healthy, and in good flesh, I would relax. When the calf starts to show, remember that the hooves should appear right side up, and the nose should soon appear (soon is relative, could be 2 minutes, or 2 hours). If the hooves are in any other position (or no hooves appear at all) you have a malpresentation, and need to call a pro.
     
  5. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Thanks again for the input. She's been on timothy for 3 days now. I put the mineral salt out again yesterday. She usually goes for the baking soda that is really for the goats and dumps over the mineral salt after a bit. I have people lined up to help with a malpresentation and am looking forward to the fruits of raising her for the last 2 years. She's a sweetie. I'm still debating on what to do with the calf. Let her raise it, pen the calf up at night, or take the calf totally away from her. I want to use the milk myself and don't mind bottle feeding, but want to cause the least amount of stress for Corabelle and calf. I've pondered for a few months, but now is the time to decide. My concern with letting her have the calf all the time is if it will make my very gentle heifer who doesn't really have a flight zone with anyone but the vet change her attitude to one of being unapproachable because she will be too defensive about her calf. I'm glad I'll be more sure of myself when her second calf arrives next year. It's amazing what a little experience does for one's nerves.
     
  6. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Christine, I would Isolate the calf for 12 hours a day, and let it nurse for 12 hours. This way you get all the milk you need, the calf gets all it need, and you only have to milk once per day
     
  7. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Tinknal for all your help. I'm only getting to the computer every couple of days right now, as our computer is down. If I let the calf nurse on the mom, will I have to deal with a lot of stress on Corabelle's part when we wean and sell the calf (I haven't any intentions of selling it until after it is weaned)? IS Corabelle going to have a fit and try to break down the door to where we will keep the calf if it isn't with her during the night? (Right now Corabelle chooses to sleep outside because it is summer.) If I do bottle feed the calf,it okay to feed the calf first in the morning, then milk Corabelle? I just remember how Corabelle would be waiting out there first crack of dawn to get her bottle and I envision this calf pushing into me while I'm trying to milk If I milk 1st and bottle feed second.

    On a different topic, the udder is getting bigger by the day. There was a lot of noticeable movement on Sunday, but now just when I happen to catch it I do. Her due date is the 16th, but I hear they can come up to 10 days early for first timers. There is a bigger space between her tail and pin bones and she's looking a little more sunk in next to her hip bone. Sometimes her anus looks more sunk in, then sometimes it seems back tko normal. I love this experience. I've dreamt about having this season in my life forever and am so grateful it's almost here!