The saga continues. Poppy the seven-year-old Jersey, borderline obese from a four-months’ break from lactation and all the good spring grass, dropped a pretty heifer calf one week ago, and the next morning was down and couldn’t get up. We’ve been over this before, the protocol is two 500 ml bottles of CMPK or calcium gluconate in the jugular (not too fast — at least ten minutes per bottle), and up she gets, right? And so she did, popped right up, came up for the evening milking, and the next morning was down again. Two more bottles and a little wooden swearing and she’s up again, and then she’s down. Repeat this cycle over and over again for five days, five tubes of oral Ca gel, and eight, yes, eight, count’em, bottles of i.v. calcium, and yet on Sunday not only is she down, but when we come home from church she’s over on her side and starting to blow up. Ouch. So we set her up and scratch our chins, what in time is the matter with this cow? We’re beginning not to believe in the calcium, and while we’re fetching the tractor and hip lift she’s over on her side again, and then again. In the lift she just hangs and groans, making no attempt to take her weight on her legs, so we let her down and scratch our chins some more. The swearing is beginning to have some heat.
Thank goodness for the kind patience of our large animal vet, who taught us to run an i.v., sells us supplies like calcium, and lends us her hip lift. We call her — eleven ack emma on a Sunday morning — and she walks us through it. The problem is the calcium, that’s clear. Take the calf off the cow, run in more calcium (three bottles more), and DON’T MILK HER. At all. When the options are milk fever and mastitis, choose mastitis every time. Mastitis we can cure; milk fever will eventually kill her. Funny how you sometimes have to hear someone else say it. Every time we had boosted the cow’s Ca levels, we’d pulled them right back down by milking her out, and she just couldn’t take it. Sometimes that happens. As Shawn commented, WE were the problem. Of course, we were the solution, too. We put 1500 ml Ca in her and let her be (the calf is a mannerly little heifer, so we left her on her mamma to keep the pressure down), and that evening she was up and about.
That was last night, and she’s been fine now for 36 hours. We moved her into a private paddock up by the barn where the ground is as level as any ground around here ever is, and took two pounds out of her most turgid quarter this evening, but that was all. I think we’re on top of things now.
We live and learn, and if we’re lucky, the animals survive too.