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Jane’s First Chapter

March 24, 2011

Mother Hubbard’s Milk Replacer Cupboard is bare!

Today is Jane’s last day of milk drinking.  She will be 10 months old on Friday and it is time.  Our other cows are weaning their calves right now, so it is time for Jane too.  She will miss it, for about one morning I suspect, and then it will be a distant memory unless she sees her nipple bucket.

When I purchased the last bag of milk replacer, I filled a 3 gallon plastic bucket to put away in case we have any calving problems this year, and I vowed that when Jane finished the remainder that she would be weaned.  We’re at that point right now, she won’t even have a full breakfast when I pour out the last milk powder.

Jane – March 22, 2011

She looks plenty big enough to wean don’t you agree?

36 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2011 3:46 am

    Not that I know anything, but I would have to agree with you. 🙂 I think not having a full bottle might help her try some of that nice green grass. 😉
    Let us know how it goes. 🙂

    • March 24, 2011 5:39 am

      LindaG, oh she eats grass all day and hay all night, so at this point she is ready to make the change 🙂 Just a change in routine and one less chore for me!

  2. Sheila Z permalink
    March 24, 2011 4:15 am

    1/2 a cow there

  3. Jen permalink
    March 24, 2011 5:27 am

    She looks beautiful!

  4. DEE permalink
    March 24, 2011 5:40 am

    When we wean our bottle calves (beef type) we give them warm bottles of water mornning and night and they drink it as avidly as their milk. This way we ensure they are getting enough fluids. Keeps ’em coming up when they are out with the big girls so we can check them for problems. DEE

    • March 24, 2011 6:58 am

      DEE, I won’t worry about Jane getting enough water, she has a full functioning rumen and comes to water twice during the day and at night she drinks almost a 5 gallon bucket in her stall. I bet your babies love the treatment you give them!

  5. Tami permalink
    March 24, 2011 6:22 am

    She is lovely, and sooo white!! I love her feminine head too, very fine, a real young lady I would say.

    • March 24, 2011 6:54 am

      Tami, she’s such a little princess – and very businesslike coming to the barn, I just hope she remembers all this training when she calves!

  6. March 24, 2011 6:32 am

    She is growing into a beautiful little cow. She looks terrific!

    • March 24, 2011 6:55 am

      Susan, thanks! She seems like she isn’t growing much, and then I look at a photo like this and realize how big she is getting. 🙂

  7. Chris permalink
    March 24, 2011 7:06 am

    She’s a beauty! Thanks for keeping us all “posted” on her progress and most importantly taking such great care of Jane and her pasture mates! They look like the healthiest cows on the planet and it’s lovely that you care enough about them to give them names! 🙂

  8. March 24, 2011 7:27 am

    Congratulations, cow mom. You’ve done a good job.

  9. March 24, 2011 7:47 am

    She’s such a pretty heifer. Are you going to breed her to a Guernsey when the time comes?

    • March 24, 2011 8:43 am

      AMF, nope, I am not interested in a replacement until she is older and I abhor selling heifers. I’ll leave it to someone else to supply dairy heifers. I’ll either breed her to a low birthweight Hereford or Angus. Not sure about AI or live cover yet.

  10. michelle permalink
    March 24, 2011 7:49 am

    Wow! She sure is big. Good thing girl cows don’t mind being called big, I might have offended 😉

    • March 24, 2011 8:45 am

      Michelle, LOL a friend of ours uses heifer as a derogatory term. He thinks being a heifer is a bad thing!

  11. March 24, 2011 7:58 am

    I love to read about the way you treat your livestock. I wish everyone did as well as you do.

  12. Fid permalink
    March 24, 2011 8:58 am

    She looks healthy! While I realize it is one less chore and that you’ve done a great job, what are your feelings? What’s it like to end this phase? I’m so glad she’s had milk this long (I’m sure she is too). I don’t think anyone tires of hearing about Jane. I know I don’t! I’m also wondering will she moo like she’s being weaned? And, do you mind sharing why you abhor selling heifers?

    As always, thanks for having this blog.


    • March 24, 2011 11:19 am

      Fid, she could go a little longer, I originally was going to wait until she totally shed out, but I don’t want to buy another bag of milk, and Della would have been kicking her off (literally) by now. Our grass is coming on and she is getting the best hay – so weaned she will be. She won’t moo because I have been gradually weaning her for several months. Four feedings a day, to three, then two and since January once a day. And those once a day feedings have went from a gallon down to one half gallon this past week. She moos when she wants food, but it is the soft, gentle Mmmm that she asks with – not the demanding bleating of a calf weaned too soon or abruptly. Our calves don’t bawl when their mothers wean them either – and as they are going through this process themselves, they are starting to ask me for hay too. They know who is guarding the haystack 🙂

      As for selling heifers, I am such a control freak, I wouldn’t like vetting potential buyers, so we either keep them or eat them. Sounds terrible, I know but it is the truth. I don’t breed dogs for the same reason. And the half Guernsey heifers make good cows. I have two of them – and they are sweeties. They look like orange Herefords and they are naturally polled. 🙂

  13. March 24, 2011 12:59 pm

    Less chores is the part I’d like!

    • March 24, 2011 1:46 pm

      Linda, me too, although it seems like something always appears that takes the missing chore’s place!

  14. claudia w permalink
    March 24, 2011 4:48 pm

    I love watching Jane grow! She is a beautiful cow. I know nothing about cows so this is an adventure for me watching Jane.

    • March 25, 2011 1:42 pm

      Claudia W, it’s fun to look back at photos and see her progress. I see her every day and am kind of immune to the subtle changes. Thanks for the kind words 🙂

  15. A.A. permalink
    March 25, 2011 12:36 am

    I was wondering, have you measured Jane’s heart girth versus her poll to the top of the tail length? In your experience, does that measure being close to 1/1 or above reflect how well a cow will be able to utilize forage?

    We got two heifers in November that I may’ve mentioned. They’d be about fourteen months old now, or one is and the other we butchered just the other day. They looked fairly small and somehow weak and sickly when we got them. They both got better on the hay and mineral, but it didn’t really turn them around. Especially the one we butchered was always hungry and bawling, even though the other one plus another heifer they were with stayed mostly contented and not bawling. The hungry and bawling one was the middle one in the group, so she definitely got her share of the eating. Now that she’s and we cut down the hay accordingly, there hasn’t been any bawling. My best guess is they were both put on cheap “maintenace” feed when they were weaned at about two months old, plus grain to make it all good and fine. That probably ruined their digestion and health for life. Anyway, outwardly Jane reminds me a little of them with all the leg she has, but the ones I had just never got any bigger than that, and never looked as good. Jane’s got beautifully lined ankles and hooves, whereas these two have skis under them, and at and angle that at least looks pretty exhausting. Janes’ very pretty indeed 🙂 I’m sorry if you’ve written about this already and I’ve missed it, but do you have any specific criteria or milestones when it comes to Jane’s growth and measurements that you keep a close eye on? Or do you mostly rely on just being with her and caring for her, and then if nothing cathes your eye as being wrong, she’ll be fine with the good diet and the low-stress rearing?

    Thanks. Fairly rambling I guess 🙂

    • March 25, 2011 1:52 pm

      AA, that’s too bad about the heifers – early weaning is pretty hard on cattle, despite the common practice. And grain protein is no substitute for milk protein, especially since the milk goes (or should) to the abomasum for digesting and grain goes to the rumen where they can’t really utilize it yet when they are young.

      I usually rely on my eye to keep an eye on calf growth, coat and body condition say a lot, as does the demeanor of the animal, like your girl probably was continually hungry and was making that known in her own way by bawling. I cringe when our cows bawl, I know I have done something to upset them. Speaking of which, Jane is quite unhappy with me today – she does want her warm milk – but I am playing the tough love card and not giving in. I expect she will not dilly dally coming in tonight.

      I have just been measuring Jane’s height, but when she reaches 12 months I will measure her length and heart girth etc. She has been on grass and hay since her first days, so I expect she will do well on the same as she gets older, she eats a tremendous amount of grass and hay now as a 10 month old, so I am happy to supply it. I’ve actually been scrutinizing her escutcheon and hair whorls more than her size lately…it will be interesting to see how she turns out as a cow 🙂

      • A.A. permalink
        March 26, 2011 5:41 am

        It’s find that it’s fairly hard for me to tell when an animal’s poor performance is a sign of a genetic/physiological problem and whether it might be my management that’s the cause. Or actually that may not be true. I think the hard part is trusting that when your gut feeling says something’s wrong it probably is. The difficult line to draw is what kind of faults am I willing to accept in an animal when there are no really good animals available. It’s easier with the rabbitry, obviously, because to a fair extent only experimenting will tell and it takes so much less time with rabbits.

        We got these two heifers from a vet who, when I tried to explain it, plain didn’t understand the concept of seasonal production/breeding and how a heifer/cow might fall out of the program and thus be very costly to maintain. If we hadn’t been into experimenting and the price hadn’t been very low, that should’ve stopped the deal. When you use artificial insemination any time of the year and feed grain and drugs to compensate for poor genetics, all animals qualify, and the best measure of a quality animal is how good marks they get at a show and how much they milk at their peak, which are really not much of a measures at all. Enough of the ranting, though. I did choose to “experiment” with these two heifers. The meat from the first one has been very tender even though the carcass had very little fat on and they were cheap enough to make a lot of sense to raise to butcher on hay. You’re absolutely right the poor animal was always somewhat hungry and that’s why she was bawling. She was definitely not starving, though. I tried feeding her about double what her sister was getting, and she’d still bawl at the next feeding. Her sister’s from the same AI bull, the same age, only different mother. She has stayed small as well, actually just a bit smaller than her sis, but her coat’s clean and shiny and not ruffled like her sister’s. Somehow she has looked a lot more filled up by the looks of her side before each feeding, and she definitely has gained some backfat through the winter months. She’s also more curious than her sister. And that’s another thing right there. So many people I’ve met seem convinced that the personality of a cow has got nothing to do with how well she’ll perform, yet I think it’s obvious just the opposite is the case. A stable, sure and focused mentality seems to go with intense and focused grazing and eating, a full rumen, and a harder to stress animal. At the other end, some seem skittish, often looking for the juicier piece of the pasture or bale, spending that time not eating, and overall will be more easily stressed and suffer by it.

  16. Chris permalink
    March 25, 2011 7:59 am

    Jane boring?? Never!! 🙂

  17. Lucy permalink
    March 25, 2011 4:10 pm

    I too will never tire of Jane news!

  18. March 30, 2011 4:46 pm

    Aww Jane is growing up. She is one beautiful cow..I love her markings. Good luck to you and to Jane for her last feeding. Have a great Thursday!
    Maura 🙂

  19. April 5, 2011 8:36 am

    I’m finally home after all that’s happened lately and I find Buddy Burger nearly the size of his Mama. He just turned 6 months and practically has to kneel to nurse! Joy is still patient with him but looks as if she tires of the constant struggle he goes through…and as he grows his head butting her udder gets harder. Poor girl. I’m hoping that he fills out just as nicely in the last 4 months of life and will make some delicious meals for us next winter! Frankly he and Jane would make some lovely babies…cept he’s a steer now. He’s that beautiful red color with white around his eyes! He’s turned into a gentle little man though. I’ve had the best hired help around! Who could ask for more than a teenager next door who wants to help because it’s FUN!!! 😀

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