No, Lady Lily is not a queen from a Renaissance Festival. But she is majestic, draped in black velvet, and has the voice of an angel. Still confused? Lily, of course, is my bottle calf!
So you don’t think that description fits? After yelling her name into the early morning darkness, believe me, when you finally hear and then see her running through the pasture, it fits perfectly.
Even though we have had cattle my entire life, Lily is the first -healthy- bottle calf we have ever had. Unfortunately, I have to emphasize the healthy because we have many many bottle calves, just none that have made it.
Unlike most bottle calves, we still have Lily’s mother and we will probably be keeping her because she raises great babies, especially Lily’s twin brother.
We found Lily one Saturday laying in the woods. We left her alone, figuring that her mother would come back for her, like cows normally do. Sunday morning, Lily was laying in one of our lots, near two late heifers we were weaning. We closed the gate so she wouldn’t wander off and went the check the cows. We counted, and counted and counted again. Not only were all the cows there, but so were all the calves that we knew of (it’s calving season, sometimes there are surprises!) Back to the house we went to mix the bottle.
Eventually, we came to the conclusion that the only possibility was a twin. Because her mother is a Simmental, she also has their signature ‘eye patches’. Take a look at Lily, who has similar markings.
The downside of twins is the huge possibility that Lily is also a ‘free martin’. Cows are genetically made to have a single offspring, but do on occasion have twins. When this happens, if the gender is the same the twins are generally healthy and live a normal life. If the genders are opposite, the female is generally a free martin, or sterile. While she is otherwise healthy, Lily has a very low chance of remaining on our farm for an extended amount of time due to the fact that she might not reproduce. But until she is officially declared sterile by our veterinarian, she will continue to enjoy life with me! (And my dog Harley)