Hydramnios: Tragedy Strikes Again!

It’s been a busy month on the farm, but I’d been struggling to come up with a good idea for my blog for the month.  Keira has helped me out with that.  Thursday we learned about hydramnios.

From the outside, this bull calf doesn’t look like there’s anything wrong with him.

I went out to start my morning chores Thursday and after a visit to the hens, I heard Keira greeting me from behind the barn. I went through the parlor to check on her & was horrified by the sight that met my eyes when I opened the outside door.  There stood a gaunt, forlorn Keira, looking like she had wallowed in the mud all night, cord hanging out and…….”Keira, where’s the baby?!?”  I soon found him – a perfectly normal looking red bull calf, lying dead in the mud on the other side of the fence.  Keira still had not milked up at all.  A few hours later, she finally passed the placenta, along with a river of fluid.

I had put in a call to the vet right away – he had just been out Tuesday evening to AI BoPeep for me, and when he saw Keira he commented on how enormous she was.  We knew by her breeding date that she was very near to calving, but I pointed out to him that she wasn’t milking up yet.  He returned my call shortly after she passed the placenta, and his first question was “Does she look like somebody gutted her?”  A definite yes there.  Then “Does it look like she had tons of fluid where the calf was born?”  Another yes.  He had immediately made the connection between her enormous belly & a dead calf – hydramnios.

A horribly gaunt Keira now happily munching grass.

He explained that for various reasons, some calves lack the ability to swallow the amniotic fluid as they’re supposed to, so excess fluid builds up in the uterus.   Most of these calves have obvious defects, but some appear normal.  He’s never seen one born alive.  He pointed out that there would’ve been a lot of pressure on her rumen, so she hadn’t been able to eat as much as she needed.  But, on the bright side, it’s just a freak thing that happens, not something we need to worry about happening repeatedly, as would be the case with PHA, which both Keira & Rousseau are negative for.

So, after a year of excitedly waiting for my first Rousseau baby….I have nothing.  So we try again.  Eavie looks like she’s getting ready to calve soon, too, so then she & Keira will both be put with Rousseau for breeding & we’ll pray for red heifers NEXT year.

3 thoughts on “Hydramnios: Tragedy Strikes Again!

  1. Hi! So are you milking the mom of the bull calf now? How much is she producing? Is she a good girl, standing still?? Just wondering!! Sorry to hear of your loss, again!! How terrible!! At least you didn’t lose the mama!!


    1. Hi Jonna! No I’m not milking Keira. She hadn’t milked up at calving. Three days later she bagged up a little bit, but she’s very underweight from not being able to eat much with all the extra fluid in there the last couple months. So I decided that her recovery is more important than my milk, and I don’t want to put the extra demand on her. Besides, Eavie will soon calve & she’s looking like she’ll be a better producer than Keira anyway.


  2. SO sorry! How heart-breaking for you!


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