Whoa…wait a minute. We started with 66 expectant mothers, we now have 64 calves and yet we expect three more births? No, that’s not a typo and I’m not math-challenged. We have a set of twins—very healthy twins with a mama who dotes on both of them.
Bill found Mama #67 and her newborn twins, a heifer and a bull, in one of our rented pastures during his morning maternity check on October 1st. The cow had cleaned the calves and let them suck, a promising sign she accepted both of them. Even if a cow delivers twins without complications, there is a possibility she will reject one or won’t have enough milk to sustain good weight gain on both calves. So far, she had cleared the first hurdle, successful delivery, and hopefully acceptance wouldn’t be a major problem. But, whether or not she had an adequate milk supply was still unknown.
A few hours later, Bill discovered there was an issue with Mama #67’s acceptance of both calves. When he checked on them, the little bull wasn’t with Mama and his sister. Bill found him about 100 yards away and returned him to his family. Later that evening, we both went back to the pasture and, again, the bull was missing. We drove all over the 40 acres, but couldn’t find him and feared he would become coyote bait. Apparently, when the cow decided to go to the hay feeder or pond, the heifer went with her and she didn’t roust the bull from his nap to go along.
The next morning, the little bull had rejoined his family and both calves were having breakfast. Bill didn’t want to interfere with the family bonding but, after a couple of days, felt that closer supervision and supplemental milk replacer were necessary. Bringing home Family #67 would be easier said than done.
Bill drove the farm truck pulling the stock trailer and I followed in the mini-truck. Bill had a Plan A, but it failed and he was forced to regroup on the fly several times. Finally, two hours later we arrived home with Family #67 in tow. Bill unloaded them into a corral pen for some quality bonding time. The next day, he turned them out into the small corral pasture and moved in First-Calf Heifer #72 and her calf to provide a “girl talk” companion for #67. The twins ate at Mama’s table then sucked down milk replacer. The little bull helped himself to dessert at #72’s table and she didn’t seem to mind.
After a few days, Bill turned the cows and their calves into our “heifer pasture,” which is close to the house, allowing us to supervise heifer breeding and calving. The twins both receive a quart and a half of milk replacer twice a day and are thriving! Soon, Bill will start them on grain, sort of like adding Gerber cereal to a baby’s diet.
For several days, we referred to the twins as “little girl” and “little boy.” Bill decided they deserved “real” names because they’re the first set of twins to not only survive delivery but also rejection of one by the mother. As a result, we can keep and raise both until they’re sold with the other calves. I pondered names of famous male/female duos and finally settled on “Freddie” and “Flossie,” the younger set of Bobsey twins.
Here is a Family #67 album…