We All Want Uneventful Pregnancies, Even Cows

Any mom or mom to be can tell you that an uneventful pregnancy is the best kind. So far so good with pregnancy number three, but that wasn’t the case with pregnancy number one. Actually, my first pregnancy was very uneventful until week 35. One day I went to work feeling slightly under the weather. My company was going on retreat the next day, so my supervisor told me to go get checked out before we left to put my mind at ease. After a few tests at my OB’s office, my once quiet and perfect pregnancy came to a screeching halt. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and was immediately put on bed rest. The next five days, I tried to move as little as possible (while trying to still work from home), get some rest and went in daily for monitoring. After day five, things took another sever turn and Tim rushed me to the hospital. My liver was shutting down and I was diagnosed with the HELLP syndrome (the most common cause of maternal mortality). Thankfully, the team of hospital specialist took great care of me and delivered our baby early via c-section. After Erik was born (very healthy baby I might add), all my vitals were back to normal and I recovered quickly and easily. I later learned that there is no known cause of preeclampsia, nor is there a cure (one of the reasons I March for Babies every year to raise money for research).

Just like humans can have unpredictable pregnancy, so too can dairy cattle. This has nothing to do with whether the farm is large, small, grazing or confinement. Nature is nature and there are somethings we just don’t understand. On our farm we try our best to give our cows the best of care: good nutrition, access to fresh air, pasture and clean water, dry areas to rest and of course clean areas to give birth in.  Our pregnant cows also are given a 50-60 day “dry period” before they give birth. This means they go on a pre-natal vacation from milking and get to just hang out and relax.

Last week, we had a tragic birth on our farm. The cow (#519) was very healthy, but had a hard delivery. We rarely need to help with births. By the time Jon got to the barn in the morning the calf had died. After helping her deliver the calf the rest of the way she pushed her uterus (prolapsed) out as well. Dr. Bob, our vet, made an emergency visit. Tim and the vet cleaned and disinfected her uterus and put it back where it belongs then stitched her up. She seemed to be okay (relatively speaking) but couldn’t stand up. Unfortunately, due to her hard calving she had pinched a nerve and her rear legs didn’t want to work.  It was very sad and like all farmers, we search for answers and solutions so this tragedy doesn’t happen again.

A week later, the cow is doing much better. She is getting up and eating and drinking a lot.  She has rejoined the herd, even though she still gets to relax inside the warm barn between milkings. Just like I was surround by a team of medical specialist, this cow is surround by a team of dairy health experts too. She has been receiving individual care and attention. Before she could get back up, we had to move her by hand every few hours to make her comfortable. Moving a 1300 lb animal is not easy and Jon and Tim were both very happy when she was finally able to get up.

Caring for our animals is our number one priority. Just like in my case, this eventful pregnancy will have no long lasting effects on #519’s health. She will fully recover and once again be a productive cow in our herd. She will go on to live a long life. She is already showing her once spunky attitude.


Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.

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