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Dr. Milk & Ms. Hyde

November 6, 2014

Mild mannered milk cow twenty days a month…

Possessed demon one day a month!

The most recent monthly rodeo convinced me to quit chasing unicorns and to get on with plan B.  Plan A you ask?  Well, first I’ll borrow a quote from a respected milk cow owner, “too old for young heifers!”  I’m not getting any younger, growing your own family cow takes years.  If everything, and I mean everything, goes exactly as planned.  In two years and 9 months, you’ll get your first drop of milk.  Plan A was a plan that a friend and I cooked up which started with procuring some semen from an old style Guernsey bull, we wanted less stature and more stockiness.  So slow forward a couple of years and breeding of her Jersey, and my Jane several different times…no deal.  Or actually no calf.  We found lots of excuses reasons why each AI attempt didn’t work.  But in the back of my mind, was hmmm, what if, what if, this semen had lost something between various owners.  Thawed, etc., who knows when something as fragile as straws of bull semen get shipped several times and stored.

Jane’s third heat and subsequent artificial insemination a month ago appeared to go off without a hitch.  Until she came back into heat 😦   The “Gheela Monster” was back.  (The “G” is not silent in this nickname.)   That niggling little thought (okay it was a big thought actually), I could screw around, pun intended, and keep trying for that small stature old style Guernsey, or cue the milk bucket to the head sound, I could just breed her to the perfectly good Guernsey bull in the tank.  Duh.



I love this little guy to pieces, if he was a heifer I would be over the moon.  No more chasing unicorns, just a full sister to Reese.  So all you peeps out there keeping track of Her Janeness, fingers crossed for a successful breeding, and if it’s a heifer great, but the real need is just a pregnant cow.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Carrie permalink
    November 6, 2014 2:41 am

    He’s a cracker. Such a shame that there’s no future for him as a bull. Can you select a Guernsey with a propensity for female progeny or don’t the owners AI people keep that data? Probably ‘randomly’ useless data anyway. I imagine in genetics terms Jane should – at some point – (theoretically) drop a heifer but… that could be years away? (Not that I understand b-all about genetics! So these may be silly questions.)

    • November 6, 2014 5:11 am

      Carrie, she is about due for heifer, she’s had one, and there is sexed semen but it works better on heifers than cows and it’s expensive if it’s even available. I’ll just bide my time, and the little guy won’t be so cute when he’s older. I’ve had cows that have had only heifer calves their whole lives and some that have always thrown bull calves, hoping Jane is like the bulk of my cows, they have both 🙂

  2. November 6, 2014 5:55 am

    I hear you about the pregnant cow – we just did an AI on our Jersey last month – hubby wanted to hold out for Jersey or Brown Swiss semen – turns out not easily sourced. So we went with black angus – it was available and ultimately it’s about the milk. Waiting any longer up here means too young a calf going into our cold winters – I prefer it have some summer grazing under its belt before the thirty below. In still not sure if the cow took – her heats have never been that obvious. A pregnancy check yesterday was cancelled as the vet had another emergency. I’ll reschedule at some point – but we had already decided that if she didn’t take, we’ll wait til spring and she and her calf get to go for a trailer ride back to where we bought her, and spend a month visiting the Jersey bull. 🙂
    The vet said she was confident the AI would take- we had given the cow two shots of Estrumate two weeks apart, and 80 hours after the second shot, in went the straw.
    Funny, I would rather have bull calves – easier to part with them for the freezer.

    • November 6, 2014 6:11 am

      Val, do you have Biotracking available up there? A blood test that is fairly cheap and more accurate and safer than palpation.
      Waiting isn’t so bad, with a long lactation you can get back on the schedule you want. And if you can deal with them in heat, Jane is awful, and a bit dangerous 😦

      I was hoping as well to get Jane moved back on the calendar a bit, but if this breeding took we’ll be in the same place as this year. Not ideal to calve in August, but at least we had the hay done…silver lining after all.

      • November 6, 2014 8:10 am

        I’m pretty sure biotracking is available, I’ll definitely ask. Our vet is a mobile large animal vet – she carries an ultrasound machine in her truck – so she was going to use that first. I’ll send off an email and ask about the blood test tho.
        I wish the cow had a more obvious heat – or at least more consistent signs. I keep careful records – I caught her once trying to mount the draft mare despite being separated by a fence, and once before milking she jumped up and had it in her head to mount the hubby. Fortunately the roof of the milk shed is very low. That was months ago – and I’ve yet to catch a noticeable drop in milk production either. Does Jane drop in milk when she’s in heat?

        • November 6, 2014 8:25 am

          Val, how nice to have the ultrasound available 🙂

          Jane is very consistent, and very insistent. Flight zone goes out the window with her when she’s in heat, so we have to be careful. She goes down a little the next day just because she is pacing and not grazing, but not before. I did notice this lactation though, that if she’s coming in, she comes in with her milk let down…among other obvious signs, mooing, high alert, pacing etc.

  3. November 6, 2014 6:02 am

    If you become fed up with the failures in A.I., have you considered breeding her live, with an Irish Dexter Bull? Seamus has been our largest calf born, weighing 55 lbs.. Came in the night without a peep from Cora. They just calve that easily. You’d be able to put the meat in the freezer. You’d have a higher hanging weight. And you’d fall in love with the flavor of the beef!

    • November 6, 2014 6:34 am

      Three Cedars, we do have beef cows, and we just sent the rental bull home. I’m trying to get started on my replacement Guernsey hence the AI woes. The years that I don’t want to breed for a dairy calf, she visits the bull 🙂 Much simpler.

  4. Fid permalink
    November 6, 2014 6:04 am

    Fingers crossed! BTW, Pearl gave me a lovely bull calf in October. His name is Milton.

    • November 6, 2014 6:21 am

      Yes! Yeah Pearl! How is Lucy?

      Kit came back in heat the same day, so April and I may be fretting together next summer more than usual. Meaning we’re always fretting, but usually about different due dates.

      • Fid permalink
        November 6, 2014 10:53 am

        You got a chuckle out of me on that reply! Fretting…! Lucy is wonderful. She’s sweet and plump. Haven’t rebred her yet. Still hoping to move to Oregon and watch you two fretting. Please tell April hello!

        • November 6, 2014 11:23 am

          We’re collectively fretting right now, just waiting for that 21 days to pass 🙂 Fingers crossed all will be quiet in the pasture from here on out.

          Sweet Lucy!

  5. 3 cows permalink
    November 6, 2014 6:12 am

    I have been working my way back to a spring calving schedule and am waiting on the last two cows to calve within the next month. One has had nothing but heifers for us, she is coming up on 9 years old and this will be her fourth calf since we have owned her. The other is a second calf heifer, who had a bull last time and she, herself, was the only heifer ever born to her own mother. We are actually hoping for bull calves from both because we will be low on beef next fall, but if the forelock indicator is accurate, (lol), it isn’t going to happen that way. Guess we should start saving our pennies to buy a couple of those high-dollar bottle bull calves… 😦

    • November 6, 2014 8:32 am

      3 cows, takes forever doesn’t it. If Jane wasn’t such a pill in heat I would milk through and wait it out. It’s so hard to gain going backwards on the calendar. I’m dealing with that with the beef cows, two bulls last year due to first bull failure, so I split the time difference this year. I like a tight calving window, the little outliers seem to be cougar bait otherwise. LOL, Jane’s forelock is always smooth and perfectly coiffed, she’s had both bulls and a heifer, never had a hair out of place. I think it’s mineral related myself…

      Those prices are through the roof, if I didn’t need those two little guys to drink the excess milk, I would think about selling them 🙂

  6. 3 cows permalink
    November 6, 2014 6:14 am

    Btw, Jane is one gorgeous hunk of cow, isn’t she?

  7. Janet permalink
    November 6, 2014 7:32 am

    Such a challenge trying to breed the milk cow for a replacement heifer! Good luck with this breeding. I would definitely say the “old style’ Guernsey’s semen is suspect.

    • November 6, 2014 8:27 am

      Janet, well I’m swearing off, I’m losing too much time, she settles fine with other AI bulls, and with live cover.

  8. November 6, 2014 8:14 am

    I think I have mentioned it before but I’m thinking we are unlikely to breed our replacement milk cows. I’ll just buy in heifers from Steve and let the borrowed beef bull cover my cows. But there’s a big difference between your situation and mine. I can take my pick of the highest quality stock imaginable just up the road.

    I totally understand your frustration. I have a 3 year old that still hasn’t bred. She will taste delicious but I would much rather have calves than beef. Especially in this economy. Sigh.

  9. November 6, 2014 1:46 pm

    We had plans to hold our Jersey back from the bull for an extra 10 months this year in order to change the calving schedule – I made it to 7 months and couldn’t take her cranky, unpredictable attitude any more – she’d gone from being moody 1-2 days a cycle to full time exorcist mode. The day after the bull was in with her, back to completely predictable, easy going Jersey. Couldn’t believe the difference it made. Good luck with it this month 🙂

  10. Bee permalink
    November 6, 2014 2:44 pm

    Boy, after listening to these tales, I’m thanking my lucky stars! Maybelle gets a little twitchy when she’s in heat, but compared to the rest of these girls, she’s a peach. AI’s not an option for me, so we just go with an Angus rent-a-bull. She nearly always catches within the first week he’s here. Not to mention that she’s only had one heifer in five calves (that we know off — lost this year’s calf to a cougar and never even saw the little beggar) — a Dexter cross who turned out to be sterile. She’s a nice cow, though, and ideal for my purposes, so if I could find someone to AI, I’d try for a replacement heifer.

    • November 6, 2014 3:36 pm

      Bee, it’s funny how they get sometimes, Jane’s mom would just head for the hills, or in the direction of the bull. She never really took an interest in me, but geez you had to make sure the gates were shut at the road and when it was time to got to the bull, there was only slowing her down as she crossed the road, instead stopping her. She was dam raised though so didn’t really identify with me so much. Jane while respectful, is a little too familiar, she didn’t care at all that the bull was not too far away as long as she could fixate on us or the poor horse.

      Dang cougars, they are thick! And they can pack off a big calf. There goes a wasted year in one three day meal 😦

  11. treatlisa permalink
    November 8, 2014 5:57 am

    I’ll be following your story, crossing fingers and toes with you while I struggle to get mine backed up to an earlier calving date also. The stress!! Managed to get a last minute AI yesterday (it is quite a drive for the tech and difficult to find a willing one). Mine doesn’t show much of a heat and hasn’t settled in very regular yet since calving. If necessary, I’ll try one more breeding next cycle and if that doesn’t work I plan to wait till summer and try to get back on track. For me, breeding has been the biggest challenge in owning dairy cows. :/

    • November 8, 2014 6:39 am

      Treatlisa, I know, these girls keep us on our toes for sure. If I wasn’t so hot to trot for a dairy heifer it wouldn’t be so bad. Fingers crossed!

  12. Kristin permalink
    November 9, 2014 5:40 am

    What was the straw size, Nita? I’ve used A.I. and 1/2 cc straws for 8 years and had a 90% first time settle rate. I’ve got the best A.I. guy in the state. But we swtiched to Genex dairy semen this year…..they have a better selection and a rep willing to work with us……and my 1st time rate went to 25%! Genex has 1/4 cc straws. I’ve since read there are “tricks” to using them and the combi guns. This has totally screwed up my calving schedule, of course. I’ve got just 3 cows to breed. My neighbor, 6. We’re so frustrated! All that money spent on semen and poor results. Do you know what size straw it was?

    • November 9, 2014 6:34 am

      Kristin, I’ll find out, I didn’t have any problems with other AI attempts, so it may be something so simple as that. It’s stuff like this that makes me love having a bull here more than ever. Sure frustrating isn’t it? You start ticking the calving time off in 3 week intervals and next thing you know your into another season. 😦

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