by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
Addison Michalak, a shy, 10 year-old Canajoharie 5th grader, did not start her summer off with a trip to the beach or a pool party.
Instead, Addison found herself up to her elbows (literally) in the birth canal of a Holstein dairy cow giving birth to twin calves.
Addison, who’s usual farm chores consist of helping to grain and feed older heifers and helping to bed down and feed calves, had learned to deliver calves by watching her dad Jeremy.
“She always got excited when one needed help in delivering and always jumped in to help him,” says Addison’s mom Jessica.
Usually veterinarians determine if a cow is in calf for twins, but sometimes, as in this case, the second calf is not detected.
Since her dad was not available to assist this cow when calving, Jessica says Addison jumped right in when she saw that the amniotic sac didn’t break, a red flag for an emergency delivery.
“She asked me if she could go in and help her as the sac wasn’t broke but her feet were out,” explained Jessica. “So, I said sure. I stood there and watched and she did it all on her own.”
Jessica got Jeremy on the phone and from a distance he gave his support to Addison, reminding her of what to do.
The first calf to be born was the bull and Addison and her mom thought the excitement was over.
“We thought that was it!”
As Jessica went about with normal chores Addison went back to check on the bull calf. That was when she saw a second sac— containing a heifer— had been delivered and was also unbroken.
“Addy jumped in and broke the sac open, pounded on her chest and a bunch of fluid came out and the heifer was then breathing,” reported Jessica.
Addison says she was “shocked” that she was able to deliver the calves on her own, and that her quick thinking and ability was able to save their lives, especially of the heifer, which required more than just ripping the amniotic sac open.
Addison’s interest in the cows reaches further than delivering calves.
An independent member of the 4-H, Addison takes a special interest in showing calves.
“Our first registered calf was raised and then bred and she freshened last spring and had a heifer,” says Jessica.
Addison named that heifer calf Chloe and trained her for showing.
She showed Chloe at the Cobleskill Sunshine Fair last summer and plans to show her and another heifer this coming August, as well.
Addison is extremely proud of her accomplishments with Chloe.
“I just love her!” she says. “I’m proud of myself for training her on my own and getting her to cooperate.”
And what does the youngster hope to be when she grows up?
“I want to be just like dad, a dairy farmer.”
Addison has a 6 year-old sister, Emma, who also helps out when she can.
Jeremy and Jessica Michalak own a 420-cow dairy, where they milk about 220 cows, three times a day.