There’s a television show on the Discovery Fit & Health channel called “Babies: Special Delivery.” Since we don’t have satellite or cable, I’ve only seen a couple episodes while visiting my sister. But the focus of the show is on sharing abnormal, high-risk human births. Apparently, viewers find the suspense and high-emotion of such deliveries compelling.

After our own special delivery here a couple weeks ago, I can relate to the suspense and high-emotion part. If there was a “Calves: Special Delivery” show, we would have had a perfect episode. The only thing we were missing was a film crew.

When I got home from running errands that afternoon, Glen greeted me with the news that Abby had given birth to a heifer calf. A little one, he said. Since it was still three weeks until her due date, I asked Glen if he had checked for a twin. He hadn’t.

I took one look at Abby’s calf when I got to the barn, and told Glen there had to be a twin. Especially considering that Abby has two sets of twin sisters and one of those sisters has twinned.

By the time we finished cleaning stalls and feeding cows and were ready to bring Abby into the barn, a couple hours had passed – which should have been plenty of time for her to deliver a twin, if there was one. But there wasn’t another calf in the calving pen. Moreover, Abby didn’t appear to be laboring anymore at all.

Just to be sure, Glen checked. Sure enough, he felt a calf. But when we got her into a stall so Glen could determine the calf’s presentation, he couldn’t find it. For a second, he thought maybe he was imaging things. But Abby is so tall and so deep, the calf was merely out of his reach when he checked the second time.

The twin was in one of the worst possible positions for delivery – coming tail first. Interestingly, the only other delivery with such a presentation was Abby’s sister’s set of twins. After discussing that delivery with our vet, he had suggested that sometimes it’s easier to flip the calf around than it is to bring the hind legs up for a breech delivery.

We quickly determined that flipping the calf wasn’t an option since Glen could barely reach the calf’s rump. He didn’t even think he was going to be able to reach a leg to bring it up. I started to get that panicky feeling in my stomach and thought we were going to have to call the vet, since he has longer arms than Glen.

Then Glen came up with the idea that saved us a vet visit. We put a bale of straw behind Abby so Glen could stand on the bale. I wish I would have been able to take a picture. By that time he had taken his shirt off because it was covered in fluid and the whole situation was quite the sight.

Glen managed to get one hind leg up over the pelvic bone and into position for delivery. We looped the OB chain around it and I held on while Glen went fishing for the other leg. After a couple minutes his arm gave out and he had to switch arms. 

Finally, he was able to pull the other hind leg up and out. 

As we started pulling, we both turned to each other, but the words came out of Glen’s mouth first: “I’m going to be really upset if this is a bull calf!”

The calf slid right out. After a quick check of the calf’s gender and vital signs, we were all smiles. A live heifer calf. Woo-hoo! We carried her over so Abby could clean her off and gave each other a high-five.

Twin heifer calves are always special, but this set was even more so. Abby is one of the most beautiful, balanced cows we have, and since her heifer calf last year was born dead, these calves are our first opportunity to add more of Abby’s style to our herd.

Like all twin heifer calves born here, Abby’s calves got special names: Agape and Amore.

And we got a special delivery to remember for years to come.

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 70 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have two children – Dan, 4, and Monika, 2. When she’s not parenting or farming, she’s writing for the Dairy Star. Sadie can be reached at gsfrericks@meltel.net.