Farm animals, Today on the Farm, tour, Uncategorized

This calf is not small, she’s fun-sized!

We just keep getting surprises here at Hansen’s Dairy.

Three months after our surprise first set of surviving triplet heifers, now we have another unique calf.

wagyu, miniature, cattle, Hansen’s Dairy
Coffee Bean, a full-blood Wagyu calf, weighed only 20 pounds at birth. Here she is compared to a normal-sized calf born the same day.

This cute little calf was born on Aug. 27, weighing in at only 20 pounds. She is a full-blood Wagyu beef cow, the result of an embryo transfer (carried by surrogate mother who is a Holstein). A normal Wagyu calf weighs around 65 pounds.

Wagyu, cattle, miniature, Hansen's Dairy
Glacier was the surrogate mother of the full-blood Wagyu calf that weighed only 20 pounds.

As soon as the mother, Glacier, started giving birth, herd manager Blake Hansen knew something wasn’t right. A normal cow going into labor usually has udder swelling and softening of ligaments around the birth canal, which didn’t happen with Glacier. She was also nine days overdue, so this baby was not premature.

Soon enough, this little peanut was born. We first thought she had a form of dwarfism, but usually cattle with this condition have disproportionately short legs. She looks like a normal calf, just a miniature version! We decided to name her Coffee Bean. Check out a couple videos of her on our Instagram page.

She does have one abnormality though — her lower jaw is shorter than her upper jaw, so she has an extreme overbite. Blake fed her with a kangaroo bottle nipple because it’s longer and narrower, which seemed to fit her mouth just right. She looks like a little fawn, with her small stature and narrow nose.

wagyu, miniature, cattle, Hansen's Dairy
Coffee Bean was born with a jaw abnormality. Her lower jaw is exceptionally short, which gives her an extreme overbite.

The first night, we kept her in the house just to monitor her. She spent the night in a laundry basket. 🙂

Wagyu, miniature, cattle, Hansen's Dairy
Coffee Bean spent her first night in the house. Most normal sized calves don’t fit in a laundry basket!

The next day she hung out in our front yard. She looked like a puppy sitting there! She was walking, but certainly not very fast so we weren’t concerned about her escaping. She’s grown stronger with each day, and Blake decided to put her in the kangaroo pen so he could watch her more closely than having her with the rest of the calves in the huts. It’s been fun watching how the kangaroos respond to this new creature in their pen.

wagyu, cattle, miniature, Hansen's Dairy
One of these things is not like the other! Scooter, our female kangaroo, checks out Coffee Bean, our new Wagyu calf.

So, it will be interesting to see if Coffee Bean grows into a normal sized cow or if she will always be miniature. One thing is for sure, she has a fighting spirit and has been seen kicking up her heels in the kangaroo pen!

Just another day taking care of creatures great and small here at Hansen’s Dairy!

wagyu, miniature, cattle, Hansen's Dairy
Herd manager Blake Hansen feeds Coffee Bean, a super small Wagyu calf, by kangaroo bottle. The longer, narrower nipple fits her mouth better than a normal calf nipple.
Farm animals, Today on the Farm

Blake Hansen: Cattle Ob-gyn

About 200 calves are born each year at Hansen’s Dairy, and Herd Manager Blake Hansen serves as a type of cattle ob-gyn for the expecting cows. While difficulties during labor are uncommon, difficult labors are very hard on the cows and can lead to diminished milking productivity and decreased fertility. For these reasons, Blake keeps a close eye on the cows near the end of their 9-month pregnancy.

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Though each cow is different, Blake will see several indications that a cow is close to labor. In the week before calving, her feed intake decreases and her udder will start to swell. Young heifer’s udders can start swelling as early as 1 month before labor. Several days before labor, the ligaments on the tail head cave in slowly, then drastically when labor is only hours away.

During the first stage of labor, the calf is being forced toward the birth canal and the cervix is beginning to dilate. Because of the dilation, the base of her tail may appear to have a kink in it. At this point, the cow will be moved inside the barn to the maternity pen so she can deliver her calf in a dry, clean space.

Shortly after, the water bag will appear from the vulva. It will resemble a small reddish-brown balloon filled with water, or the bag may burst inside her. When this bag breaks, the cow will feel a release of pressure and she’ll get up to investigate. If she makes no progress for a half-hour after the water bag has appeared or burst, Blake will help the cow with her delivery.

During the second stage of labor the contractions become strong and coordinated. They will come 3 to 5 minutes apart. The cow will often lie on her side begin to push. She will be visibly straining.

Within an hour after the water bag has appeared, two small white hooves should emerge from the vulva while still in the embryotic fluid bag. After a few minutes, the nose will follow, then the shoulders, body and hind legs. The cow will immediately stand and turn to clean the calf with her tongue.

80% of births are unassisted and calves will enter the birth canal correctly, with their front feet first and nose between their knees. But sometimes, the calves may have limbs twisted, be backwards (breech) or too large.

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The above picture, from Oregon State University Extension Service (http://ans.oregonstate.edu/sites/ans.oregonstate.edu/files/extension/cattle/CalvingSchool-theCalvingProcess.pdf), shows a calf entering the birth canal in the correct position.

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The above picture, from Oregon State University Extension Service (http://ans.oregonstate.edu/sites/ans.oregonstate.edu/files/extension/cattle/CalvingSchool-theCalvingProcess.pdf), shows a calf in the birth canal with its front leg pinned back. A cow with her calf in this position would require some assistance during labor.

backwardcalfThis picture, from Oregon State University Extension Service (http://ans.oregonstate.edu/sites/ans.oregonstate.edu/files/extension/cattle/CalvingSchool-theCalvingProcess.pdf), shows a calf in the backwards (breech) position. Blake must quickly deliver the calf before the cow is pushing too much, or it will be hard to reach in and grab the hind legs.

The third and final stage of labor is the passing of the afterbirth. The cow’s uterine contractions will continue in order to expel the remaining fetal membranes. This will last anywhere from 1 to 12 hours.

Some tour participants are lucky enough to witness a calf being born. It’s wonderful to see the miracle of life before your eyes!

Written by Kelby Robb