We have learned a lot about milk fever in the last couple of days, but these are the lessons you wish you learned before you need the information. Once again, milk fever was not on our radar, because we thought she was out of the woods from her earlier episode on Wednesday.
All day Thursday she was strong, stable and grazing, but the deer flies down at the meadow where they were are so bad, literally 20 or 30 on them all day. Her udder and sides were bleeding from the bites, and so we thought it best to bring her home. We were also going to get an A2/A2 bull yesterday to put in with Becca, and did not want Annabelle to have all that extra drama.
She and baby Christopher were not too happy to leave their friends.
When we got home, Luit milked her and the baby nursed. In hindsight, we should not have milked her so much, but she had so much pressure, and we were worried about mastitis.
The stress of the short trailer ride, the milking and everything, made her weak again and she started slightly stumbling. Luit gave her another bottle of calcium gluconate, and it was our last bottle. It was too late to go to town and get more, but we would restock the next day.
Annabelle was stable and was not staggering, and was grazing in the meadow. Luit kept checking on her throughout the night, and she was fine. When he went out at 5 yesterday morning, she was laid out flat on her side, deadly for a cow, and could not raise her head at all. When Noni and I got out there, we all pushed her head up and pushed up against her to hold her up. All I had was a bottle of Dextrose, and I gave it to her sub Q in several places while Luit raced to town to get what Bill had on hand, about a half a bottle of CMPK and a drench. What a long wait for me and Non, struggling to keep her head up. I did not think she would make it until Luit could get back (about 1.5 hour trip to town and back.) When he got back, I could not find her jugular vein, so I had to give it to her sub Q, and it was not really helping.
Her eyes were totally glassy and rolled back into her head and her breathing was very labored. Luit took over keeping her propped up, and I raced to town now that Tractor Supply was open. I got three bottles of calcium (they don’t carry CMPK) and an oral CMPK and a dextrose. I was not sure about being able to find her vein and I called Francie to see if Allan knew how to do it. He is most amazing, in every way. He followed me and upon returning I was shocked that she was still alive. Allan took the needle off the IV, pressed on a certain place on her neck to make the vein come up, jabbed the needle in and blood came out the other end to show he was in the vein. Then he put on the IV and a bottle of calcium went in. I could see her muscles twitch as it was going in, and her eyes began to get clear. We were able to push her up on her haunches, and she could hold her head up by herself.
Once again, I thought she was in the clear, and I went to the barn for iodine for her feet to help her not get foot rot. When I came back, she had stopped breathing and Allan pushed on her side a few times which rushed air into her lungs and she started breathing again. Bill said we should give her another bottle, and I had read on Spirited Rose Farm that dextrose also helps with energy. Once again Allan immediately found her vein, but in another place because that part had collapsed. She really seemed better after that and her eyes were open and she could hold her head up by herself. (Words cannot express our gratitude to you Allan.)
The rest of the day is a blur, as she regressed and it is difficult to push your body up against a 1000 pound cow to keep her propped up. The pigs were a big help and knew something was wrong, and they would come and speak loudly to her, making her wake up from time to time. Her eyes were rolled back into her head most of the time and her legs locked up. Luit gave her a CMPK oral drench and some water from the olive oil bottle. She could swallow. We knew that she was failing, and did seem to get better when having more calcium, but we were scared she would get too much. As a last resort we gave her another bottle and try as we could, we just could not find her jugular vein, as it was so weak, and that Allan was a master, but not there. I had read that we could use her milk vein on her stomach, and I was able to get the needle in that vein and another bottle into her. Dear Michelle from Spirited Rose Farm called and told Noni some important info as well. (Thank you Michelle.)
Bill came to check on her and he helped us push her to her other side which made a big difference. Luit also then gave her some drench that Bill had which had some digestive aids which seemed to help a lot.
Baby Christopher was despondent and hungry, so Noni gave him a bottle of warmed up colostrum. She also expertly made Dad some asparagus duck broth soup, lamb meatballs and kefir biscuits.
I went to town again as we wanted to have something else on hand, and I got a molasses energy boost and some other stuff. (The glamor must have amazed all, blood and muck on my hands, baby calf colostrum poop all over my pants and shirt and muddy water up to my knees from having to wade in the irrigation, glasses on, and hair? ugh!)
When I got back it was around 5 and Luit gave her the molasses energy drench and some more water with the bottle, which she really needed. The pigs kept coming to her for a pep talk, but she still could not hold her head up by herself and Non and I kept her propped up. Bill was going to come back and help Luit try and lift her with straps and the tractor. Noni was losing her patience and said Annabelle was just being lazy.
I got up to go get a contraption that you can screw on a cows hip bones to lift them up.
I walked about 15 yrds and I hear Noni say, “So, who do you think rocks, Mama?”
I turn around and Annabelle is standing on her feet and Noni is smiling. Shock. They both are amazing!
She gains her footing for a bit and then is able to take a few steps. Our neighbor who was fishing came over, shocked as well, as he had written her off much earlier in the day.
She did take a few bites, drank lots of water, and walked about.
Her baby was so overjoyed she was up that he raced back and forth across the meadow, to us, and then to her, which of course made her nervous.
She grazed a bit with her friends.
I was getting nervous that she would now not eat anything, no chaffehay or hay or alfalfa/oats, so I went to town again and got some alfalfa from Bill and Kelli and a homeopathic that Kelli said would help if her imbalance was also magnesium/phosphorous. (Thank you dear ones, for everything.)
Luit felt that she also might be lonely, so he went to get Becca, Eleanore and Faline, and that really perked up Annabelle. He also got the mineral feeder as I did not want her to be without that. He and Noni have to go to Dallas today.
She still would not eat anything, but then laid down, normally, and rested peacefully. I kept dosing her with the homeopathic remedy, Luit milked Becca, and all seemed well.
This morning at 5 Luit checked on her and she was resting but looked as though she had been up and moved from her last position. She had nibbled a few things, but not really. He went back out at 5:30 and she was up and mooing, saying “Let me out of this pen!”
He let her out and she is grazing in the meadow with her friends.
Thank you all for your help, advice, expertise, love and caring. Miracles really do happen. xoxo
I felt guilty and selfish praying for a cow when there is so much real pain and suffering in the world. I know she is only a milk cow, which if you have had a milk cow you know what an amazing creature they are, the heart of a farm and family, and we are grateful for all she gives us.