Beautiful birth

Cow 506 beginning to calve

Cow 506 beginning to calve at 11.50am

By the time I took this photo at 11.50 yesterday, I’d been watching over cow 506 for an hour or so. She’d been showing all the classic signs of a cow about to calve: restlessness, getting up and down. It was a relief to see her labour had progressed. I came back again an hour later to make sure everything was okay and look what I found! Licking her little one with gusto, she looked very comfortable.

Cow 506 licks her newborn at 1pm

Cow 506 licks her newborn at 1pm

Of course, it’s not always this simple. Sometimes the calf is too big, sometimes breech, sometimes the cow herself has a problem. With 340 cows set to calve over the next few months, it’s an anxious time for us.

To make it easier to keep an eye on our ladies, we do a weekly sort-out, drafting cows that are about three weeks from calving out from the rest so they can get extra special TLC in our calving paddock. This paddock is small and close to the house and dairy. We check it three times a day and, if any of the cows look like they’re about to calve, we hop up during the night to check them as well. Some of the signs are a swollen vulva, mucus, tight udder and unusual behaviour. The reality is though that, despite breeding programs meddling with the cow’s biology for thousands of years, almost all of them calve quite easily.

I hate comparing women with cows but, at almost 36 weeks myself, I can’t help wondering why it seems so much more complicated for us!

5 thoughts on “Beautiful birth

  1. The wonder of farming and being a part of it never ceases to amaze me either Marian
    I recently saw the movie ‘Eat Pray Love’ starring Julia Roberts and when her character needed to marvel and get some wonder back in her life she went to Italy.

    Australian farmers just need to walk out their back door.

    Farmers are a special breed – they work hard but every day they have the satisfaction of seeing the rewards of their efforts –
    • in the food and fibre they produce leaving the farm
    • in the happy healthy faces of the children at the local schools, in the growing Australian cities and
    • in the countless developing nations that rely on Australian exports.


    • It’s incredible to watch nature at work, isn’t it? At four, Zoe already understands so much about life – the cyle of birth and death, the importance of rain and sunshine, the beauty of tiny mushrooms, and even the dignity of animals. All very romantic and all true.


  2. Hi Marian,
    I know what you mean about comparing cows & women but after having children myself I look at calving on our dairy farm so differently now!
    Wishing you all the best for 4 weeks time – I hope you are up & going again as quick as 506!!
    Best wishes,


  3. Pingback: Why are so many people interested in a cow’s vulva? | The Milk Maid Marian

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