Calf survives chilly start, N.B. farmer uses woodstove and baby food to revive
A newborn calf on a New Brunswick farm is lucky to be alive after its mother gave birth in a snowy field, instead of a warm barn, recently.
At Lo-Hi Farm, near the small community of Hoyt, around 55 kilometres south of Fredericton, the mother, who is unnamed, was starting to show signs of getting ready to give birth.
Farmer David Kirkpatrick said heifers will often go off on their own to have their young. This isn't a problem when cows find a quiet corner of the barn, but outdoors in a Canadian winter is a different story.
"I said, 'I'm going to bring her back into the barn, so when she does calf, she's where she's supposed to be,'" said Kirkpatrick.
He said he went out to find her, to bring her in, only to discover he was too late.
"The closer I got, I realized that she had already had her calf."
He said the calf was in dire straits, and there were doubts about whether it would survive.
"It was breathing, but its temperature was low — it was weak," he said.
"The mother couldn't get it warm because it had been down into the snow for a few hours," he said.
Kirkpatrick wanted to give the young calf a fighting chance, so he brought it into the farmhouse, giving it some baby food and setting it up next to the fireplace.
"My wife sacrificed one of her nicest electric blankets for it," he said.
But even though the calf was safe in the warmth of the farmhouse, it was still touch-and-go.
Daisy, Kirkpatrick's animal-loving daughter, stuck close by to keep the newborn company.
"She wants to be a veterinarian someday, so this is right up her alley," he said.
Eventually, the calf was revived and was reunited with its mother.
"She was pretty thankful for us to bring that calf back to her," said Kirkpatrick.
He said the cows on his farm aren't really given names, they're beef cattle so will end up on a plate before too long, but the experience with Will meant an exception was made.
"That calf really had this will to want to live … and that's just what we went with," said Kirkpatrick.