Thursday, December 29, 2011



Not exactly what every dairy farmer hopes for.  Perhaps that comes as a surprise?  There are numerous reasons why we are less than thrilled with twins...

**they are often born early, and don't thrive
*if they're born early, we're often caught off guard and are unprepared
*the cow, especially if they are born full term, has a harder time delivering and recovering from calving
*if the calves are a bull and a heifer, the heifer is often sterile and of no use to us on the dairy

On a positive note, if they are both heifers and's a bonus!

On Tuesday of this week, Jim had planned to go visit his cousin, who lives about an hour away.  We thought we had all our I's dotted and our T's crossed before he left, so off he went.

Around lunch time, the phone rang.  It was Anne, who lives at the other farm.  "You have twins", she said.   She was able to tell me that it was a cow (not a new heifer) who had freshened, because she was already wearing a neck strap.  That was a good thing.  

Eric, Jenna and their cousin who was visiting, piled in the truck with me, and we took the cow trailer to the other farm.  The calves, both bulls, were so tiny!  First, we put them on the cow trailer.  The cow then willingly walked out of the pen and onto the trailer.  That was a very good thing.

The calves were born almost 6 weeks early, and we weren't sure how they would do.  I think they probably only weighed in at 45 pounds or so.  (most holstein calves weigh in between 80-100 lbs at birth)  Jenna named them Tom and Jerry...

This is Jerry...

He is surprising us.  Even though he is so tiny, he jumps up and totters around the boxpen.  He bawls, which is always a good sign, and he has a great sucking reflex.  He drinks his mother's milk from a bottle, although I try not to full his tiny belly too full all at once. This is a good thing...

 Tom, on the other hand, was simply too small to survive,  and he lived only about two hours.

The cow seems to be doing fine.  She cleaned on her own, and is eating well.  This is the best thing!


  1. so the females are only sterile if born as boy girl twins?
    I always thought all twins were sterile?
    Are the boys ever sterile?

    Our Highlands are only about 40lbs at birth.
    sorry you lost one but I'm glad momma and the other is well

  2. Oh that is too bad. When I lived at home I was always excited when it was twins, my Dad never was. I understand why now, but I always did think it was magical. Have you seen Julia's blog with pictures of her triplets? I think they were all heifers.

  3. Farmer - We've always thought the bulls were fine, but we don't keep them anyway, so can't say for sure.
    It's amazing how big they can get, after starting out so small, isn't it?!

  4. I'm glad at least one survived. The poor mama cow, what a delivery!

  5. Glad momma and Jerry are doing well. I always dread triplets with the goats for the same reasons of hard delivery and failure to thrive. I do like twins on the goats though because then each side of the udder gets nursed; when there is only one, they seem to only nurse one side which is hard on their maaa.

  6. Jerry is very handsome. I just love those soft black and white coats and pink tongues--as long as I'm out of slobber range. Congrats things went as well as they did.

  7. Jerry is so cute. I am sorry about Tom but I understand this. B

  8. Hi Alicia. Kim is a wonderful blogger friend of mine and I just love her. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog about the triplets. I should take some update pictures of them. They're thriving well and growing.

    I'm sorry about your lost of a bull calf. I know that the heifers are more valuable than the bulls but it's never fun when they die for what ever reasons.

    I've joined your blog followers and invite you to join mine.

    I just got back from the barn with my husband at 10:43 tonight taking care of a cow who calved and her calf. We've had 6 calves born since Sunday.

    Every time my husband call my cell I know that he found another calf. It seems that I've spent the better part of my day at the farm ever day this week feeding calves and caring for them. I have three more cow that are due on December 31st. The calf nursery holds 10 calves comfortably and is full and I have 4 calves with no where to sleep so they will have to double up for a few days.

    I haven't had time to blog lately. I'm looking forward to some peace and quiet after this rash of calf birth. JB

  9. Glad she managed to have them. That can certainly be a challenge with twins. At least with only one to raise she should be able to keep up. Sounds like a happy ending.

  10. Sorry Tom didn't make it. Glad the momma and Jerry are doing fine. Happy New Year!

  11. Great post Alica! Sorry to hear you lost a calf but hope that Jerry proves to be a strapping young man who grows like a most children do :-) Happy New Year-Rhoda

  12. Wow, I never really thought about a cow having twins...very interesting! Sorry that one of them didn't make it. Baby cows are soooo cute!!! Also, I didn't know cows weighed that much when they were born!

  13. I just came over to wish you Happy New Year with lots of blessings, good health, peace and joy.

    We had another calf born this evening and almost lost it because of a difficult birth. It's the 8th calf in 7 days. He drank well so hopefully he will be alight.

    We have a herd of about 140 heads Holstein with about 70 that are replacements heads that comprises of little calves, larger calves, young heifers and dry cows. 2 more cow are due to calf today. JB


  14. You dread twins like I dread quads with our dairy goats. Luckily it rarely happens. Triplets on the other hand are normally what our Saanens or Nubians have. Twins being unusual for us. No problems though.

    I've raised quite a few Freemartin heifer calves for meat but I've always wondered about the bull calf siblings fertility so I just now looked it up. The Oklahoma Ag Extension site said the bull calves have reduced fertility, though not as severe as the heifers 90% or better chance of infertility. Now I know. Of course you probably already knew that.


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