On Monday, as I was busily trying to clear umptytiddlyone important-must-be-done-immediately stacks of paper on my desk, Ginny decided to calve – at last. She was two weeks late and though not unusual in my herd I was a little concerned as there have been rumours that Bluetongue vaccination can cause problems to the unborn calf; though I suspect this would be at a much earlier stage in the pregnancy.

As she decided to calve at a convenient time – in daylight, during the morning, in fine weather and in the shade of an oak tree almost under my office window – I was able to take photos of her during the entire labour.

Particularly interesting is the interaction between Ginny and Imogen. Being together, away from the main herd since turnout, they have settled well, formed a strong bond and have shown no distress; a little unusual as they are not from the same dam or cohort and were not closely connected within the herd.

Normally a cow, free-ranging in a grazing herd, will take herself off to an isolated secluded spot to calve, but Ginny positively encouraged Imogen’s company; so much so it reminded me of human birthing partners!

She lies down to begin pushing contractions

contractions are strong and rhythmic

the waters burst – she cleans up

nearing the end

the most enormous heifer calf – seconds old!

introductions are made – this is unusual behaviour, generally the freshly calved cow will see off any intruders.

first wobbly steps – searching for the teat