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Miracle of birth caught on video as Caramel, the mother cow delivers her beautiful calf
Caramel is a wonderful cow who lives on a beautiful free range farm in
Millbrook, Ontario. Her days here are happy as she wanders with her herd
over lush, green meadows and grazes contentedly. She has ponds for
water, a forested area to explore, and rolling hills that create a scene
like a landscape painting. The farmers place the emphasis on herd
health and happiness, refusing to cut corners for profit. They will not
produce veal and they never separate calves from their mothers, which is
a heart breaking part of the dairy industry. Every drop of the mother's
milk goes to her new baby.
This is no ordinary day for Caramel. She
is about to give birth to a new calf. As instinct tells her to do, she
finds a quiet spot away from the rest of the herd and she lies down on a
slope, waiting as the contractions start. Her water has broken and her
amniotic sac is bulging. She knows it is time. Within moments of lying
down, the baby starts to emerge. It isn't moving and it is encased in
the thick amniotic sac. Although calm at the beginning, Caramel begins
to bellow loudly and she sniffs at her calf before it is even fully out.
It's possible that this is a pain reaction, but it's also possible that
she is trying to make the baby move so she is reassured that it is
alright. With the baby almost all of the way out, Caramel shrieks and
stands up abruptly, causing the baby to fully enter the world. This
breaks the umbilical cord and the calf is truly born.
In the wild,
cows are prey animals and they know that predators will be attracted to
the smell of the afterbirth. For the safety of both, she frantically
tries to eat all of the amniotic sac as quickly as possible. While the
calf is unable to stand, she must be sure to avoid attracting any
attention. Licking the calf clean is also for protection, but it
provides stimulation and helps the mother and calf bond and recognize
the scent of the other.
Within 15 minutes the calf is much more alert
and it tries to stand. Caramel is eager to encourage the calf and she
licks and nudges the calf repeatedly. It needs the first milk that she
produces for antibodies and high protein. This colostrum is very
important for the calf's immune system and future health.
seconds of the birth, other cows in the meadow came running with bellows
of their own. They had been quietly grazing as she gave birth but they
clearly recognized the moment of importance and circled Caramel with
concerned moos. They sniffed her calf and watched with excitement. Being
highly social herd animals, some of their behaviour is protective. Some
of it is curiosity and some of it may their way of congratulating
Caramel, relieved that the bay is healthy.
Once on her feet, little
"Holly" found her way to the milk supply and nursed greedily. She stood
back legs first with an adorable clumsiness that resembled a newborn
deer. Caramel ate grass with a surprising appetite throughout this.
Holly is one of more than 25 calves born in this herd this spring. She
will grow quickly and have a wonderful life on this incredible farm.