Born in a winter storm, newborn becomes 'house calf'
While a recent 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, Ark., found him.
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.
"Hopefully, she will forgive us and take him back," Ann Russell said. "If not, he will be bottle fed."