Born in a winter storm, newborn becomes “house calf”

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GREENWOOD, Ark.  – While Thursday’s winter storm raged above and mud was churning below, a tiny calf came into the world sheltered only by his mother – at least until Doug Russell of Greenwood found him.

This little guy, born Feb. 21, 2013, during a winter storm, spent his part of his first day in the mudroom to warm up. (Image courtesy Doug and Ann Russell.) Cold, wet weather can be dangerous to livestock. Water can mat down the hairs in the coat, eliminating its insulating properties. It’s especially hard on calves, who come in to the world wet.

“Doug found that she had calved when feeding them,” said Russell’s wife Ann. “She calved by an old barn and because of the ice and snow the cattle had been standing around it quite a bit” seeking shelter.  

“Too many cattle on a small wet area will turn to mud pretty quick,” she said. “She had good intentions of calving near a shelter but the weather did not cooperate.”

The Russells gave mom and baby a little help.

“Mom is fine, except that we borrowed her baby for a while,” Ann Russell said. The Russells set up a temporary nursery in the mudroom of their house.   

“Baby was in house for about four hours. We dried him with a heating pad for a large dog, my hair dryer and towels and gave him some milk,” she said. The calf “was a good housemate. He stayed laid down 90 percent of the time. Once he got warm he decided to get up. He went outside shortly after that.”

The couple moved the calf into the barn under a heat lamp. The baby was being returned to his mother Friday morning.

“Hopefully, she will forgive us and take him back,” Ann Russell said. “If not, he will be bottle fed.”

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Rancher Too    
In a Drought  |  February, 26, 2013 at 05:54 PM

Touching article about a caring rancher. Great for the masses I supose. Greater still if it told of a rancher who calved in warmer temperatures on green grass so this couldn't occur. Try it sometime, it works great,

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  February, 26, 2013 at 05:59 PM

As Rancher Too states below: "Greater still if it told of a rancher who calved in warmer temperatures on green grass so this couldn't occur." This is akin to putting a puppy inside building, lighting the building a-fire and then wringing ones hands on how to "save" him! Seems this calf and his mother had no choice in the outcome of a compromised birth. Once again - Shame on animal ag!

Rancher Too    
in a drought  |  February, 26, 2013 at 06:34 PM

Gosh Bea, you were doing so good. I thought for a moment that you were gettin it. But then you went all stupid on me - -a burning building- - really. Maybe you eat too many berries and nuts, and now you're starting to act like a nut.

Taylor-Made Ranch    
Wolfe City, Texas  |  March, 01, 2013 at 08:27 AM

I have had to go above-and-beyond to save a sick bottle calf that was almost assuredly a lost cause. That little boy lived and it was worth the hard work to see him thrive. These cattle are our livlihood, and they're animals that deserve all we can do for them to keep them happy & healthy. I've often said that we do what we have to do for our animals - their needs come before ours. ~Taylor-Made Ranch~ Wolfe City, TX

SD  |  March, 01, 2013 at 01:48 PM

It does get tiresome reading rants of anti-food animal activists. They are so pone to make judgement calls quite lacking in true judgement. Cows can and do calve before their real due date, which could be one unavoidable reason for this 'mishap'. Storms can and do happen at times not expected. Some ranchers can get quite 'activist' in attempting to 'prove' that their way is the ONLY way to manage cattle, especially if they feel a need to justify the prices they charge for their products. And, when calving a little too late in spring, cows and calves can suffer considerably from birth taking place on an unusually hot day! It does take real dediction to raise food animals. AND don't forget that animals are designed to survive such conditions, but accidents can happen, even accidents of nature, such as a cow calving in a less than choice location. And while my family believes calving in pastures rather than barn yards is safer for the health of calves, we sometimes find a calf dropped into an 'unfriendly' puddle and must take similar action to save them. Wouldn't it be great if people could accept that some of us believe God gave us animals for food, while others believe that Mother Earth doesn't want them to eat animals.......and leave one another alone, rather than attempting to FORCE animal worship and vegetarianism/veganism onto EVERYONE?

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