June 18, 2017
Etta’s dam wasn’t able to produce enough milk to sustain a calf, and unfortunately wasn’t cooperative enough to let us just supplement with a bottle. So we pulled the calf and bottle fed.
Zinnia was the last cow to calve, but it was born dead. While bottle highland calves are incredibly cute, feeding gets old – real fast. So, we decided to try and graft Etta on to her.
We skinned the dead calf and tied the hide on to Etta (making sure to get the tail). We also rubbed Calf Claim™ into exposed hair. Scent is a powerful thing.
Then we put Zinnia in the squeeze chute and got the calf on nursing. We’d just fed a bottle, so she wasn’t terribly hungry. We didn’t want to fight with her and make the experience negative, so just let them in a small pen together. Zinnia immediately claimed her. That was her baby. Etta wasn’t so convinced.
We left the hide on for 36 hours, it was uncomfortable and starting to reek. The cow was good, so we took it off in hopes Etta would be more inclined to suck. It took a few more tries in the chute to get her nursing (making sure she was good and hungry). Then today – she latched on to all four teats on her own.
This evening we let them out. So much happy! Bucking and kicking – and thoroughly bonded. Etta is two months old, so quite independent and busy, while Zinnia is still in hovering, newborn mode. It’s entertaining to observe those behaviours mesh.