Pregnant Jersey Cow

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by rrourk, Nov 25, 2004.

  1. rrourk

    rrourk Member

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    We, my daughter and I, are looking for input/information on what to look for/forward to with our Jersey. This is her 2nd calf and she is about 4 yrs old. She has been dry for about 1-1 1/2 years. This will be the first we have milked her. She is due in Jan. The baby has been very active since about her 3rd month, however it doesn't 'bump' on her right side. We can feel it very well on the left. What we would like to know is, what is the approx. size of a Jersey calf, and what are the changes that take place as the time draws closer. This is our first experience with a bred cow. We would also love any and all input in regards to milk fever, many have told us Jerseys are prone, none have told us if it is preventable, or if she should get it, what you can do to treat it that is non medical or homeopathic. (we prefer not to use either, for many reasons.) Thank you to any and all that are willing to offer info!! Much Appreciated!! :)
     
  2. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm going to suggest that you get a copy of "Keeping a Family Cow" by Joann Sills Grohman. Joann is extreemly knowledgeable and has put tons of information in an easy to read format. She will explain the benifits of using raw milk, the cow digestive symtems, what to expect when your cow calfs and the danger signs to look for both before and after she calves. There is also some recipes and loads more information in her book that you will find very helpful. You can order it from her site http://www.real-food.com/

    There is also a discussion board off her site that is wonderful. The folks in there are a wealth of information, and they love to assist new people with their family cow.

    Good luck with your Jersey.
     

  3. rrourk

    rrourk Member

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    Thank you very much for the web site! I really like it. Do you happen to know anything, personally, about Milk Fever? RRourk :)
     
  4. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Milk fever tends to be more common in higher producing, older animals. This doesn't mean it couldn't occur in a four year old, simply that she isn't as prone to it as say a heavy producing seven year old. Freedom went down with milk fever at the age of 13 years!
    One of the ways we try to avoid them going down is we do not milk them out completely for the first milking sometimes a couple. They make special dry cow feed. Keep them away from Alflalfa, and other high calcium feeds. Grass hay is better. There are calcium drenches you can give 24 hours before calving to decrease the incidences but dad is not sure how homeopathic that is.
    It is the potassium, calcium ratio apparently. You need to be aware of what is in your feeds. Keep the calcium down.
    Morrison's Feeds and Feeding is what my father is suggesting.

    You can treat milk fever with a drip of Calcium Gluconate or Calcium Dextrose. My father treats all of our cases but a vet can do it just as easily. Though, Jerseys do not need two bottles, only one. We give it to them in the neck rather than the jugular. They absorb it more slowly and aren't up right away, but when it has been given in the jugular in the past they get up quick but usually went down again pretty soon afterwards.
    A cow who is going to go down will be dauncy and stagger around. Their ears get cold, but that could also be indigestion. If they are down and gritting their teeth. If they go down keep them warm, and don't let them get their heads down, otherwise aspiration can occur. Keep them propped up.
    What they used to do in the old days was get a tire pump and pump air into their udders to stop further milk production.
    We have a cow who go down with milk fever every time she calves. It is a nightmare and she has tried valiantly to kill herself twice now. :no:

    As far as what to expect when the time approaches. She will swell in the vaginal area and it will look puffy. Her udder should start to swell within a week or two of calving. As she gets even closer you can check the tendons on either side of the tail head and when those soften, she should calve within the next day. If she starts leaking milk stick close as it should be the next twelve hours.

    Each cow is different and they can still suprise you!

    We are anxiously awaiting the birth of four calves due withn the next week. Three of them are first calf heifers and one is a cow going into her third lactation.
     
  5. rrourk

    rrourk Member

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    Thank you so very much!! :cool: Gives hope to one who has heard so much about this topic. I do have a few more questions. What about grain, and how soon should we stop the alfalfa, as she is getting it at present? We are currently giving her a combination of 2/1 per feeding of grass/alfalfa respectively.
     
  6. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The ideal dry spell for maximum production is two months dry. Before that they are milking so they would still be receiving high quality dairy hay and grain. So you should probably switch her to grass hay to avoid milk fever. Most farms lead feed for two weeks before the due date. This means they slowly wean a cow onto the grain she will be receiving during milking, or they feed her the dry cow grain. Our dry cows don't receive any grain unless they are led fed in the barn and they have always done fine. Though they occassionally get a litle loose with the new feed.
     
  7. AnnB

    AnnB Member

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    Not milking out completely will greatly increase the cow's chances of getting mastitis and has vitually no effect on milk fever. This is one of those things that was recommended years ago, but more recent studies have shown that it does more harm than it does good.

    Ann B
     
  8. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have not seen harm come from it, but we also are very aware of the production our animals give and what to expect.
    It hasn't increased our mastitis.

    When I say not completely I mean we put the milker on for a one minute or two rather than waiting until the cow is completely stripped. Not that we take just enough for the calf.
     
  9. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Dostthouhavemilk has given some excellent advice regarding milk fever. :)

    The only caveat I would add is that if it's necessary to treat for it, and you're not comfortable injecting calcium gluconate into the vein, for gosh sake get a vet out to do it for you! I'm all for trying natural remedies, but milk fever is not something to mess around with. It's a life-or-death situation. (I hope I have not offended you by saying this, please take it in the spirit in which it is intended.)

    I've been told that calcium can be injected subcutaneously in the event a skilled person is not available, but nearly always leads to complications because of the volume of the solution.

    Good luck, and don't let us make you paranoid ... I heard the "Jersey horror stories" regarding milk fever, too, and was scared to death, but my girl came through her delivery without any problems. OTOH, your cow has been dried off for quite awhile, and I've heard that can be a risk factor for complications, because the cow's milk production system has to ramp up from 0 to 60, so to speak.

    Keep an eye on the cow after she delivers. She should get up within a few minutes and start cleaning the calf. She should clean (deliver the placenta) within 24 hours. In the first couple days, if she appears dazed, wobbly or lethargic, or won't get up, check her ears. If they're cold to the touch, it's "Houston, we have a problem," time.

    If you don't have a relationship established with a vet, now is a good time to check around and see what their policies and fees are regarding emergency calls. It never hurts to be prepared!!!
     
  10. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This is how we treat all of our milk fever cases and dad has lost maybe one cow in 20 years of doing it this way. You split the bottle between the two sides of the neck and you have to be sure you are all the way through the layers of skin or they get cellulitous(I think). My mother treated Freedom and she ended up losing a bunch of skin and some muscle on her shoulder because mom didn't make it all the way through the numerous layers. She's a nurse too. lol
    Just to give you an idea, we had a new vet (he didn't last long) and he treated Adelaine. She was 8 months into her lactation and wobbly but wasn't showing all of the signs of milk fever and we weren't sure. She is my only cow left so I talked dad into calling the vet (we almost always take care of emergencies and illnesses ourselves). By the time the vet arrived, dad had figured it out, but the vet was there. He tried to put *two* bottles in her vein and dad stopped him, So he put the second bottle in her neck. Her neck swelled up and guess what? She went down again. My father treated her on the other side and you couldn't tell she had even been treated. :rolleyes:


    Very good information there, willow!
    There is jsut so much to talk about when you are dealing witha pregnant cow and calving situations...
     
  11. rrourk

    rrourk Member

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    Very good information there, willow!
    There is jsut so much to talk about when you are dealing witha pregnant cow and calving situations...[/QUOTE]


    Thank you everyone, so much for the info!! I am already learning more in this little bit, than I have in the last 5 months. I am very greatful, and if you have any more to add, I will be glad to read and take more notes. Thanks Again Sooo Much!! Rena in Oregon