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Round Two

July 25, 2014

Lana & child

A cyber “friend” told me yesterday I needed to let everyone know that I was dreading Jane freshening.  So here it is.  I’m scared shitless.  That cat’s out of the box.   My cow world is divided up into two parts.  Beef cows and one dairy cow.  I don’t worry about the beef cows, I do worry about the milk cow.  It may sound callous but I can replace a beef cow pretty easy.  A family cow, not so much.  They don’t grow on trees and if someone is getting rid of one it’s usually because something is wrong with them.  Plus I like Jane, I do not want to see her in pain, ever.  Lots can go right with a dairy cow and lots can go horribly wrong.

To that end, my expectations on the beef cow side of things is that they will calve unassisted and the calf will be strong enough to get up and latch on for some life-saving colostrum before I even arrive on the scene.  That’s why I like late spring calving.  No weather problems to worry about and less likelihood of cougars eating the little tenderloin right out of the gate.  That being said, my calving season this year is messed up do to rental bull technical difficulties last year.  So today is the start of round two of calves from the second bull who apparently didn’t have technical problems…

I found this little sweetums this morning taking her first drink, I built my new front fence and ushered her into the new paddock.  Then I walked back to the house to get the camera.  Can’t document if you don’t have the right tools.  I’ve seen this 100’s of times but you haven’t.  So I’m sharing.  Note to self:  Take Camera.

Made my day.  And freed me up to worry about Jane.





Grazing gurus will tell you that your paddocks are too small if the cows clean up their paddocks and then start eating under the fence…this cow grazes under the fence right after she gets into a new paddock.  If I lower the fence she gets down on her knees and starts grazing.  Smart cow I guess.

puppy in training

puppy in training

Today was a good time to get some one-on-one with Grady, no need for a Hillbilly Doorbell in this pasture, so a dog trade was in order.  Trace got another morning nap in at the house and Grady got to go on a “big adventure.”  He was pretty happy to stay away from those mama cows and pretend to be guarding the truck.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2014 11:07 am

    Yep I worried myself nearly to death when our jersey heifer was coming close to due – oddly enough, mostly because everybody and their dog were more than happy to warn me of ALL the many many things that would ‘probably’ go wrong. And to top all – the Simmental bull was the one that covered her so I was warned to have a vet on hand and a couple strong men to pull the big calf.
    All for naught – she popped that calf out so fast I hardly got there in time with the camera. A few weeks later a cattle farmer from down the road stopped by and said ‘yep – those dairy breeds can spit out anything no problem’.
    Six of one – half dozen of the other I guess.
    Next month we’re having the vet come AI her – jersey or brown Swiss – depending what’s available. 🙂
    Good luck – don’t worry so much.

    • July 25, 2014 11:17 am

      Gulp, okay. 🙂 I worry less about the calving and mostly about metabolic stuff, she’s popped out two already without assistance, it’s after the birth that worries me, udder, milk fever, etc. Thinking on the bright side though…

      Would love to see a Swiss/Jersey!

      • July 25, 2014 3:23 pm

        Yeah – I’m hoping for the Swiss/Jersey combo too 🙂
        As near as I can tell from following your blog – your Jane eats well, has excellent pasture – not too rich, not too sparse. Milk fever as it was explained to me by my large animal vet – (you already know its a sudden drop in blood calcium) is a result of poor forage or too rich of a forage while pregnant. You seem to totally be on top of your feeding decisions – I can’t imagine there would be any concern in that department. If I’m not mistaken – Jane is a cross bred – which already makes her a healthier milker.
        I lost my best milking doe to milk fever last year – not because of the wrong diet – but because she gave birth to four kids. The demands on her system to produce that much milk that fast – I watched her like a hawk – she went down in the middle of the night. I was told by my vet after the fact that I should in this case have been giving her x pounds of alfalfa cubes twice a day on top of her regular feed. Oddly enough, that hadn’t even occurred to me. Assuming Jane isn’t going to be popping out multiples – I think you’ll be fine 😊

        • July 25, 2014 5:48 pm

          Val, I still worry, and know what to look for, she says with fingers crossed she’s doing the right thing. Jane is pure Guernsey, and she’s carrying the same this time. We’ve had all heifers this year it’s about time for the bulls to start showing up I fear. No multiples please!

        • July 25, 2014 7:49 pm

          Ah – Guernsey! I’m not up on my milk cow breeds – sorry. Well I’ll be following your progress updates closely and keep my fingers crossed along with yours. She looks to be in beautiful condition though – from your pictures, certainly doesn’t seem over conditioned.

        • July 25, 2014 8:00 pm

          Fingers crossed – she’s due this weekend but she’s going over for sure.

  2. July 25, 2014 11:20 am

    I hear you on the house cow calving stress levels – we are waiting on 2 blessed events in the next few weeks. Swear my cows snicker about who’s rear end am I gonna be ogling first today, whenever I get near them. Sending you positive thoughts for the most boring calving day ever

  3. July 25, 2014 11:21 am

    What are you thoughts on AI-ing Jersey’s with Brown Swiss? I am worried about the calf size…

    • July 25, 2014 11:54 am

      Depends on the cow and the bull, Jersey’s are not known for calving problems despite their small size. I have no experience with either though.

    • July 25, 2014 5:14 pm

      Jerseys are actually known for easy calving (as matron said 😊). This year she had a Simmental cover her and no problems at all. That calf is just over 11 weeks old and already half mommas size. So I’m not expecting issues with crossing in a brown Swiss to momma cow.

  4. Elizabeth permalink
    July 25, 2014 11:39 am

    Boy or girl?

    • July 25, 2014 11:52 am

      Girl, this cow and her mom have only ever had heifers. I have another one that has had 13 bulls and this year had a heifer. You just never know.

  5. July 25, 2014 2:06 pm

    Dwayne and I were considering adding a milk cow into the mix here, for any of those back-up emergency you-just-never-know events… as well as additional milk for the house. Breeding one with our Dexter Bull… would that decrease any of the problematic issues that can arise during calving?

    • July 25, 2014 3:06 pm

      Three Cedars, it’s more the metabolic problems that arise from having a high producing cow than actual birthing problems. So the bull wouldn’t have much to do with that portion. Good loose minerals available at all times and having milk fever remedies on hand go a long way to a successful lactation.

  6. CassieOz permalink
    July 25, 2014 2:48 pm

    Somehow it’s always good to know that you’re not the only one who worries yourself to a standstill about your dairy girls. We have Charolais and Limousin beefers and, while we check them regularly and keep an eye out for difficulties (like twins with one breech we had last year), generally it’s the post delivery hovering over the Jersey girls that has me a nervous wreck. They’ve both had MF now; one immediately post calving and the other out of the blue 4months into lactation. Replacing anyone would be very difficult but really, I love them dearly and am terrified of missing something that causes them suffering,

    No dairy babies due here until mid November so I’m watching your Jane eagerly. Good Luck.

    • July 25, 2014 3:10 pm

      Cassie, that’s exactly it. I’m pretty gun shy after putting Della down, she had milk fever at age 6 and I was able to keep that out of the picture with homeopathics and diligent Fresh-n-Easy. The vet treated her for milk fever, but I don’t think that was the problem. Ugh, I do not want to see Jane down, but I know that day will come at some point. This will be her first full lactation, she’s in the best shape ever, no dentition problems, no udder crud, and hopefully not over-conditioned.

  7. July 25, 2014 3:53 pm

    Aww so sweet!
    Hillbilly doorbell? That’s a new one on me.

  8. Bee permalink
    July 25, 2014 4:44 pm

    Nita, what do you use for homeopathics on milk fever? Maybelle had MF two years ago, but did fine this year. But, as you say, i worry…

    • July 25, 2014 5:44 pm

      Bee, I’ve had good success with Sheaffers protocol for the dry period. Alternate monthly during the dry period with Calc Phos and Mag Phos (his recommendation for Guernseys and Jerseys) That’s what I did with Della. this is in addition to minerals, kelp and salt free choice too. And then all the milk fever stuff on hand too.

      Now it’s a little easier to find the calcium paste too that isn’t caustic, but I have found the boluses opened and sprinkled on the feed are easier to administer. I still worry.

      • Bee permalink
        July 26, 2014 11:34 am

        Thanks, I’ll check that one out!

  9. Mark permalink
    July 25, 2014 5:54 pm

    Good luck with the calves!
    Jane is going to be fine, you both have been through this before!

  10. July 28, 2014 11:20 am

    “this cow grazes under the fence right after she gets into a new paddock.”

    I have one of those. The grass tastes best under the fence I guess.

  11. Anne Taliaferro permalink
    July 28, 2014 3:25 pm

    I love the low maintenance of my Milking Devons, but mine don’t produce as much as I had been led to believe they would. I’ve been thinking about trying to get a Jersey or Guernsey/Milking Devon cross. I wonder if it would still have the metabolic problems associated with high producing dairy breeds. I suppose it’s a toss-up, depending on what genetics show up. Do you have any thoughts about how that might work out?

    • July 29, 2014 4:45 am

      Anne, a cross would be great, a little more milk than a beef cow and less than a high producing dairy cow. Mineral balance is the most important thing to remember with metabolic problems, along with providing the future milk cow with a good upbringing on her mother’s milk for a strong digestive system. For me I think a 3/4 dairy would be about perfect. My half dairy cows do not give much more milk than my beef cows though…just to keep that in mind.

      • Anne Taliaferro permalink
        July 29, 2014 7:32 am

        Milking Devons generally produce a lot more milk than I’m getting from my girls. It seems that in an effort to preserve them, there has been a fair amount of indiscriminate breeding going on, (which to my mind is counter-productive), and my girls are not the best example of the breed.
        One day I’d like to get another heifer from someone who has been more careful with breeding. Most of those are on the East coast, so in the meantime I’m trying to make improvements with A.I. Still, at their best I think they only produce a gallon or so at a milking (onc a day).
        What is the cross you’ve got?

        • July 29, 2014 8:29 am

          Mine are all Guernsey/Hereford which are just my milk cow’s calves after breeding her to a beef bull. I think a calf needs 2+ gallons of milk a day to thrive, so any for me has to be above and beyond that mark. I want to make enough butter to last the year even when the cow is dry, so to do that I probably need 3 gallons a day above what the calf needs. So a 5 gallon a day cow would suit me fine. The work of a milk cow is more the prep, which takes the same amount of time whether I’m getting a gallon or three.

          Finding a heifer with milky lines is probably pretty difficult 😦 I’m sure they are out there though just hard to find. If I bred one of my half Guernsey cows to a Guernsey I think I would get a nice 3/4 Guernsey that produced enough for her calf and the house. Maybe.

  12. August 1, 2014 3:51 am

    As you know, I feel, and have been sharing, your pain. Ours is finally on the ground and on his feet, but now comes the dreaded transition period of getting his mama, who has been dry a very long time, back to milking again. She is okay….today….but who knows what tomorrow will bring. I too, worry a lot more about the dairy pair, than the beefers.

    • August 1, 2014 3:54 am

      Ugh, I’ll be glad when I’m at least two weeks into milking. Then I’ll relax a bit. Maybe.

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