Four audience members at the Birthing Tent at The Great Frederick Fair proposed names for a new 110-pound heifer, as her mother licked her clean Monday afternoon.
Daisy was one. Beautiful was another. Millie was a third. The loudest cheer, however, came for Buttercup.
The mother, nameless and identifiable only by the “1520” tag on her ears, had spent more than two hours in labor and competed with a goat to see who would give birth first. But eventually, the cow from Shafdon Farm in Jefferson pushed Buttercup out, with the help of Gene Bollinger.
Bollinger, a Thurmont resident, herdsman and superintendent of the Birthing Center, said he’s worked in that position for years.
Cows should deliver the calves front-feet first, followed by the head, Bollinger said. He and others kept an eye on her since she lost her mucus plug around 11 to 11:30 a.m. — a sign of her entering into labor.
“Sometimes you do have an abnormal presentation,” he said about cow births. “Her presentation was just prefect. Just being a first-time female, having her calf, we got to a certain point ... we just decided we would get the calf out now, and we wouldn’t have any problems.”
Roughly 30 to 40 people were gathered around the westernmost pen at the Birthing Center on Monday afternoon to witness the birth. But then, a goat was brought into the tent, creating a race to see who would give birth first.
The cow won, with an assist from Bollinger — who broke her water, and pulled her out.
“I put what we call OB chains or calving chains, put that on and also put a hitch in, and take a handle and I just put tension on it,” he said. “She’s pushing, I’m pulling. When she stops, I stop. We don’t want to tear the uterus wall or anything like that.”
Buttercup remained at the fair Monday night and was bottle-fed, Bollinger said. Her mother went back to the farm, prepared to be milked.
“When this cow leaves this evening, another will come back to replace it. We keep three cows on-hand pretty much 24/7,” he said.
As of Monday afternoon, two cows had given birth, Bollinger said. Four other sheep will give birth as well.