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Bull calf delivered at Ag Expo

August 10, 2000|By JOSH POLTILOVE

Bull calf delivered at Ag Expo



A worried boy says, "Push, push, push," as the delivering cow opens her eyes wider, wincing and mooing in pain.

The cow's stomach quivers as she pushes harder and tries to adjust her position as the calf comes closer to delivery.

Owner Katie Herbst, 18, stared at the delivering mother intently for quite a while Tuesday, hoping for a heifer. A heifer - a female - would contribute more than a male calf to expanding Herbst's dairy herd as a milk producer and for breeding.

The cow's been in labor for about a half an hour now when Herbst suddenly learns she is unlucky. Shorty, her Milking Shorthorn cow, has delivered a bull calf for the second straight year at Ag Expo, 7 miles south of Hagerstown.

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As about 100 spectators watch, Herbst takes the placenta off the bull and washes the cow's tail. She makes sure there's plenty of water available so the animals can replenish their nutrients.

"For me, this isn't really special, since I see it every day on the farm," the 18-year-old Smithsburg native says. "But for city people and people that don't live on a farm, it's really something to see this."

Shorty is 4 years old and this is her third calf. Even though she's exhausted, she begins the process of licking her calf clean.

The calf, which Herbst has yet to name, is not yet ready to stand.

"He'll probably be standing in about a half-hour," says Gerald Rhodes, an observer who was raised on a farm. "He'll be a little wobbly."

Herbst smiles and shakes her head. It's a disappointment the calf's not a female, but she says she'll still probably use him as a dairy steer representative of her family's farm, Misty Meadow Farm, at next year's Ag Expo.

She said Shorty also might be back and ready to deliver again.

"We breed her every year at about the same time, so she has a chance to get some of her strength back," she said. "She always seems to deliver during Ag Expo."

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