Lillian has two older sisters, born twins last summer in June...10259 Lilac-T and 10260 Lily_T, and they are due to have their own babies next April, when they are nearly 2 years old.
Mama Limbo is eleven years old! She has some arthritis in her right knee, so she stays in a sand bedded pen in our "special needs" barn all year long. She loves a hug most any time, and she is determined to go to the milking parlor twice a day to give us the milk she worked the last twelve hours to make. Since she lives in "special needs", I see her often (and hug her often : ) !
Milk fever is a common name from long ago! and refers to a calcium shortage some cows experience at calving. It happens when the cow isn't quite able to ingest enough calcium and move enough calcium from her bones, to answer the demand for calcium being sent to her udder where it is packaged in the milk she is all the sudden producing again.
As in Limbo's case, we recognize milk fever (hypocalcemia) very early...little things like cool ears, reduced activity, reduced appetite, stiff stool...and we supplement calcium appropriately, sometimes intravenously, sometimes orally. After treating Limbo, I brought her calf in to the pen with her...there's nothing like a little maternal action to get a cow interested in life and what the day has to bring! (Technically, I brought the calf in for another reason as well...I knew Limbo's pituitary gland would release oxytocin to her blood stream, and in turn, the oxytocin would initiate uterine muscle contraction now that calcium levels were up to snuff again. Maintaining uterine tone and health postpartum (after calving) is important to a fresh cow.)
What's a "fresh cow"?? Well, Limbo, and any cow recently calved, is a fresh cow. That's another example of age-old farm vocabulary...."fresh" referring to the fresh milk the cow is producing now that's she's given birth to another calf.
You see, dairy cows and beef cows (and goats and sheep....and other mammal mamas) spend a fair amount of time "dry"...not producing milk...each year. This "dry period" is during the later part of their pregnancy. The udder (where the milk is produced) "dries off" when it is no longer being milked by a nursing calf, or in the milking parlor. During the dry period (usually 2 months in a cow), the tissue in the udder has a rest, and the cow sends energy otherwise to the fetal calf, which is growing greatly in size during the last two months of the pregnancy.
You know what? I gotta leave you...it's time to milk cows this evening! I'll see Limbo at the end of the shift...she'll be in the parlor then to give us her day's worth of sweet milk.
Do you want to hug a cow? Stop in, and I'll introduce you to Limbo...and to Lillian! I'm a lucky girl to have such cool cows and calves to take care of! See ya, SunRay Sallie