Lazarus: the miracle calf brought back to life

Gracie Murray, granddaughter of Dennis and Jeanie McCloud, has a special relationship with Lazarus. Above, the pair pose for a snapshot.

By Gabby Christensen
It was a miracle.
That’s what Dennis McCloud said about the birth of one of his calves, Lazarus, after he was brought back to life after being stillborn.
It all began the morning of Oct. 25, 2017. McCloud went to check calves like any other day when he saw something very troubling with one of his calving cows.
“With one foot, part of his nose and all of his tongue sticking out, I knew we were all in trouble,” McCloud said.
McCloud rushed the calving cow to his neighbor Donavon Benson’s barn and quickly called Town & Country Veterinary Clinic for help.
When Dr. Cody Gulbrandson arrived, he thought it was too late.
“When we finally got him out on the floor Doc said, ‘Too bad he’s gone, he’s a monster calf,’” McCloud said. “I was kneeling beside him and said, ‘Come on God help him live’ and then I pressed down on his chest. All of a sudden the calf twitched and gurgled a little bit while Dr. Gulbrandson started cleaning his airway and told me to keep doing the compressions. Then, Lazarus was born.”
McCloud said the new calf’s tongue was cut and swelled so he was unable to suck, but they milked the cow out and drenched the calf with first milk.
“He couldn’t stand up for days, but after massaging his legs and helping him he finally stood by himself,” McCloud said. “We had a twin calf from another cow we were bottle feeding, so we made a switch with Lazarus, putting our bottle calf on his mom and hence our new family pet.”
The second day the family milked the cow again and McCloud’s granddaughter, Gracie, wanted to try her hand at it, which McCloud said made for a great memory.
“I named him Geronimo, but our children and grandchildren thought Lazarus should be his name—I agreed,” McCloud said.
McCloud made a head wrap out of shipping tape to hold Lazarus’ tongue straight in order for him to drink and try to suck.
Lazarus even took part in last year’s annual Live Nativity event that the Salem, Shell Creek and Zion Lutheran churches sponsor each year.
“After the service I tied him to the church light pole to go back inside and visit, only to come out and see children chasing him down the block,” McCloud said. “He wasn’t ready to go home.”
McCloud said Lazarus has even helped to improve the attitudes of other calves who have visited.
On his first birthday in October, Lazarus weighed over 1,000 pounds.
“He meets me at the gate morning and night and has to have the first feed out of the bucket before you get to the bunk,” McCloud said. “Our grandchildren think we can keep Lazarus forever. They are always asking their parents how he is. When the neighbor’s grandchildren come down from Minneapolis, they come and feed and pet him. I have a special bond and a spot in my heart for Lazarus, knowing what he went through to stay alive.”