Caring For Sick Livestock Babies

There’s no denying the bond between humans and livestock. Lisa Foust Prater is the family and farmstead editor for Successful Farming magazine. She lives on 40-acres in Iowa with her husband, three sons, and about a dozen cattle. A calf was born on the coldest day of 2018, and the kids named the little heifer “Winter.” She appeared healthy.  But seven days later, they found the calf lying down and struggling to breathe. They brought her to their enclosed back porch, laid her on blankets and plugged in a space heater. Prater says they took Winter to the vet, who diagnosed her with pneumonia. The outlook was bleak, but the family gave the calf round-the-clock care.

"We got up in the night, took care of her, I was home all day with her. She had seemed to be getting better but then on the 3rd night, she really took a turn for the worse," says Prater. "We talked to Jake, our oldest son, and we decided together that the next day if she wasn’t better that we would take her back to the vet and have her put under."

Winter didn’t make it through the night. Prater says the experience was emotional for all of them. But the boys learned a lesson.

"It’s very hard to draw the line between what’s a pet and what’s livestock, especially when you have a calf that has a name that’s living on your porch. I think the lesson that they got from it was that even if things seem hopeless with an animal, you still have to do the right thing and try your hardest to take care of them," she says. " And that’s just our job as people who raise livestock."

Read the full story about Winter the calf and the human-animal bond