Treatment Before Calving

Little alteration needs to be made in the management of the cow for the

first seven months of pregnancy; except that, as she has not only to

yield milk for the profit of the farmer, but to nourish the growing

foetus within, she should be well, yet not too luxuriantly, fed. The

half-starved cow will not adequately discharge this double duty, nor

provide sufficient nutriment for the calf when it has dropped; while the

cow in high condition will be dangerously disposed to inflammation and

fever, when, at the time of parturition, she is otherwise so

susceptible of the power of every stimulus. If the season and the

convenience of the farmer will allow, she will be better at pasture, at

least for some hours each day than when confined altogether to the


At a somewhat uncertain period before she calves, there will be a new

secretion of milk for the expected little one; and under the notion of

somewhat recruiting her strength, in order better to enable her to

discharge her new duty--but more from the uniform testimony of

experience that there is danger of local inflammation, general fever,

garget in the udder, and puerperal fever, if the new milk descends while

the old milk continues to flow--it has been usual to let the cow go

dry for some period before parturition. Farmers and breeders have been

strangely divided as to the length of this period. It must be decided by

circumstances. A cow in good condition may be milked for a much longer

period than a poor one. Her abundance of food renders a period of

respite almost unnecessary; and all that needs to be taken care of, is

that the old milk should be fairly gone before the new milk springs. In

such a cow, while there is danger of inflammation from the sudden rush

of new milk into a bag already occupied, there is almost always

considerable danger of indurations and tumors in the teats from the

habit of secretion being too long suspended. The emaciated and

over-milked beast, however, must rest a while before she can again

advantageously discharge the duties of a mother.

If the period of pregnancy were of equal length at all times and in all

cows, the one that has been well fed might be milked until within a

fortnight or three weeks of parturition, while a holiday of two months

should be granted to the poorer beast; but as there is much

irregularity about the time of gestation, it may be prudent to take a

month or five Weeks, as the average period.

The process of parturition is necessarily one that is accompanied with a

great deal of febrile excitement; and, therefore, when it nearly

approaches, not only should a little care be taken to lessen the

quantity of food, and to remove that which is of a stimulating action,

but a mild dose of physic, and a bleeding regulated by the condition of

the animal, will be very proper precautionary measures.

A moderately open state of the bowels is necessary at the period of

parturition in the cow. During the whole time of pregnancy her enormous

stomach sufficiently presses upon and confines the womb; and that

pressure may be productive of injurious and fatal consequences, if at

this period the rumen is suffered to be distended by innutritious food,

or the manyplus takes on that hardened state to which it is occasionally

subject. Breeders have been sadly negligent in this respect.

The springing of the udder, or the rapid enlargement of it from the

renewed secretion of milk--the enlargement of the external parts of the

bearing (the former, as has been said by some, in old cows, and the

latter in young ones)--the appearance of a glaring discharge from the

bearing--the evident dropping of the belly, with the appearance of

leanness and narrowness between the shape and the udder--a degree of

uneasiness and fidgetiness--moaning occasionally--accelerated

respiration--all these symptoms will announce that the time of calving

is not far off. The cow should be brought near home, and put in some

quiet, sheltered place. In cold or stormy weather she should be housed.

Her uneasiness will rapidly increase--she will be continually getting up

and lying down--her tail will begin to be elevated and the commencement

of the labor-pains will soon be evident.

In most cases the parturition will be natural and easy, and the less the

cow is disturbed or meddled with, the better. She will do better without

help than with it; but she should be watched, in order to see that no

difficulty occurs which may require aid and attention. In cases of

difficult parturition the aid of a skillful veterinary surgeon may be


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