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Raising Dorothy, a Bottle-Fed Elk Calf
Part 1: The Birth

By Patsy Davis Dyar
Mad Hatter Ranch

Little did I know that when I came out to Colorado from the east in '95 that I would be spending the rest of my life raising elk babies! I married my high school sweetheart, Barry Dyar, and together we started the Mad Hatter Ranch.

We have raised 7 elk bottle babies over the past 3 years and been SO lucky not to have lost any in spite of the fact that most were damaged in some way. Now in the 4th year we have 2 new bottle babies. We thought it would be fun to raise one with all of you, and share our ideas and experiences. I know many of you ranchers out there have a great deal of experience and will have knowledge and experiences of your own to share on the discussion page.

We started the 2000 calving season with 38 bred cows. 28 of them were confirmed pregnant by ultrasound to the artificial insemination that we did on September 12 last fall. The other 10 we caught by the backup bull. By May 19th , 22 cows had calved: 1 set of twins, 1 dead calf, 22 healthy babies. Weights are good - averaging 38 lbs. We have one husky heifer that weighed in at 50 lbs!

On May 15th we watched a cow delivering: amniotic sac followed by two front legs, then the nose; everything right on schedule. Suddenly the cow had a violent contraction, reared up and fell over on her side. She now had only one front leg of the calf fully extended, with the head out. The other front leg just showed a hoof. We immediately brought the cow in and tried to free the stuck leg. The pelvis was just too tight and we had to enlist the help of our vet. It was a difficult delivery, leaving the cow unstable and the calf with a damaged radial nerve on one side so that she could not stand. I took her, toweled her dry, and named her "Dorothy".

We will be bringing you new installments of "Raising Dorothy" every day or two. Check frequently. To ask questions about calving elk or to share your experiences, join in wapiti forum.

Part 2



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