Our Belgian Blue cow finally fell in to calve near the end of last week. Upon a brief examination, the calf was presented correctly and all seemed suitable for a textbook calving, with a gentle tug of the ropes clearing the head and chest area.

“Stuck at the hips” are four simple words no farmer (or vet for that matter) ever likes to hear, and we were presented with a stumbling block, having gone past the point of no return and jammed at the hips.

Thankfully over the years, the father and myself have picked up tips here and there, so while there was a small degree of panic behind our actions, we knew to continuously let the pressure off the jack to allow her to breathe.

While the calf had a healthy set of lungs and began a continuous bawling for the next half hour until we got her out, it was certainly the longest half hour of our lives.

Finally, we managed to manoeuvre the calf into a position which gave us that precious extra inch, and out she popped with not a small amount of relief on all sides.

While the cow remained down, we rushed into action with cold water dashed over the calf, straw up her nose and placed into the recovery position while rubbing her for stimulation. All was looking like it worked out in the end until I glanced over and noticed the cow had started to prolapse.

Our last experience of this ended with the cow passing away, so the vet was called immediately. She was in the yard within 20 minutes and we popped it back in with the opposite amount of effort we’d just spent on getting the calf out. By this stage my arms felt more like noodles than anything else, but there was still a cow to milk and a calf to feed.

The calf is thriving and once she stood it became obvious why she got stuck as she has hips like the back of a bus.

Though the cow has yet to get up, she’s able to move around the feed passage and is acting completely normal apart from remaining down and we’re not overly concerned just yet as the last downer cow here remained off her feet for 11 days. With any luck, she’s just taking her time about things.

My mother has sprung into action to feed the calf and the cow is providing all the milk so far, though we’re going to supplement with milk replacer, as the calf has got quite the appetite. Thankfully the cow has also bonded with her, though last year she let every calf on the farm suckle her, so there should be no problem on that front once she gets up.

While we know she’d be better off in the field, until we’re certain of a few good days of weather we don’t want her getting soaked whilst outdoors, so for now she’s being well bedded and turned daily.

Just when our fields were beginning to dry out at last, a couple of full wet days swung things around to being considerably sodden underfoot again. Though at least we did manage to begin our silage harvest, with the first four meadows knocked, totalling roughly seven acres.

With poor growth rates this spring, we didn’t expect any records broken and they totted up to 45 bales. With another five to cut and a couple of the original meadows being kept in for a second cut, we hope to have a small surplus this year to provide a feed buffer if we have yet another wet autumn and spring.

With silage already being fed around the country to supplement the poor grass growth, the few remaining bales of May ‘23 hay are beginning to look more valuable by the day.