Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Dexter Calf is Born

Ebby was due April 4 with Royal's first calf.  After she was a week late, I began to jokingly call her unborn calf "Crock Pot" . . . because it was a slow cooker!  Finally, this morning I realized today would be The Day.  Ebby's pelvic ligaments were "gone" when I checked on her at 7 a.m.  By 9:00 a.m. she was visibly restless.   She came up top in her shelter, then went down to the bottom of the hill.  Back up top and down again, till she finally seemed to settle in her shelter.

We were celebrating our granddaughter Eden's second birthday today, so she could visit the animals--the high point of a visit to Didi and Mimi.  Of course . . . just as we were eating dinner, the calf decided to come.  I'd been checking Ebby's progress every 30 minutes, and I went out for another look at 2:45.  It was lucky I didn't take time to finish lunch!

NOTE:  Some of the photos are graphic. 

2:51 p.m.  The water bag.

2:51 p.m.
2:53 p.m.  Down and pushing.

2:56 p.m.  Up again.  The tip of a hoof (pale yellowish) beginning to peek out from the vulva.

2:57 p.m.  The second hoof begins to show, presenting properly.

2:58 p.m.  Down and pushing.

2:58 p.m.  Up again.

2:59 p.m.  At this point, it looked like everything was going back in.  That's when I called my friend Barb Netti, who has seen cows give birth, and as I narrated, she assured me that things were normal.  While we conversed quietly, Ebby cleaned up the blood-stained hay.

3:01 p.m.  A pale hoof tip clearly shows.

3:02 p.m.  Pushing hard.  Ebby was groaning, which was hard to hear.  Barb could even hear her on the other end of the phone.

3:10 p.m.  The left front leg is visible.  This suddenly looked like progress.  (Note Ebby's distended udder.)

3:11 p.m.  The calf is born, twenty minutes after the first photo.

3:11 p.m.  Ebby hadn't gotten up yet, so I pulled the membrane off the calf's face and used a couple fingers to clear mucous from its mouth, then stepped back.

3:12 p.m.  The calf was breathing and blinking; Ebby started eating the membrane.

3:15 p.m.  The calf sat up as Ebby licked it all over.

3:16 p.m.

3:17 p.m.

3:22 p.m.

3:22 p.m.  Eleven minutes after it was born, the calf tried to get up.

3:22 p.m.   Oops!  Gotta figure those legs out!
3:25 p.m.
3:26 p.m.  Fifteen minutes old, the calf tries again.

3:27 p.m.

3:27 p.m.

3:27 p.m.

3:30 p.m.  Nineteen minutes, and he made it to his feet!  (That's Sir Loin the steer looking on.)

3:31 p.m.  Twenty minutes old, and he's nursing.

3:34 p.m.  Meet ZH Royal Celebration, out of NewHope Ebony Belle, our first calf by Mrald Crown Royal.  He's named in honor of Eden's birthday celebration, and we'll call him "Seb."  He's black, horned (those feel like horn buds, and he likes having them rubbed!), and obligate A2/A2.

3:39 p.m.  Yum!

3:40 p.m.  More yum!

3:40 p.m.  Maternal bliss and baby bliss.  I wish I could post the gentle "mama moos" Ebby was making as she licked her new son dry.

3:48 p.m.  Our son Jim looked on from a distance with Kol and Charis.

4:01 p.m.  Ah, that feels better!

4:02 p.m.  Being born works up an appetite.

4:10 p.m.  Trying out a little buck.

4:10 p.m.  And again.

4:10 p.m.  And again.

4:16 p.m.  Charis got to pet the brand new calf--all soft and wet!

4:16 p.m.  Knowing Seb had a tummy full of colostrum, we headed back to the house, leaving mama and baby under the watchful eyes of the two steers and sire Royal (on the right).

How's that for a double birthday celebration?

Credits:  Many thanks to Eden, for sharing your birthday with Seb; to Monique for cleaning up the dishes while I attended the birth; to Herb for hauling warm molasses water to Ebby and weighing Seb (59 pounds with a tummy full of colostrum); to Jim for chaperoning Charis and Kol; and to Kara for being my milking buddy.  And a special thanks to Barb Netti of Legend Rock Ranch for talking this new grandma through her first birth!


  1. Yeah Susan, glad you got to see a birth eventually. Many congrats.

    1. Thanks, Carol! I got up every night at 3 am for the past week because I couldn't be sure she wouldn't go without the usual signs like she did last year. And then she had it in broad daylight after showing ALL the signs! :) But it was worth it to see!

  2. Thank you for all the photos! I woke up to our calf so it was nice to see the process!!! Making my way through your last post on training to milk....thank you so much! Great info and adorable photos!

    1. You're welcome, Deanna. You'll get a chance to watch one day, too. :) Glad you're enjoying the milking post; you're one of my inspirations to do it.

  3. Thank you so much for the pictures and description, I'm waiting for a heifer to give birth and tonight I saw some definite changes in her vulva, but her bag is not like Ebby's but neither where my other two heifers in fact there bags and nipples didn't fill till after the birth. I usually miss the birth because I really don't know what to look for, the pictures are a great help. Thank you for taking the time to post so many details, it really helps the inexperienced farmer.

    1. You're welcome! I hope the photos help. Please let us know when the calf comes, if you're not too busy! :)


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