Sunday, April 15, 2012

Progress on the milk cow (family milk cow project)

To go to the first dairy cow entry, click here.
To see the previous dairy cow entry, click here.
To see the next dairy cow entry, click here.

My little holstein heifer

I should probably name this little cow, but I haven't yet; it's funny, but that's something that I carry over from pigs.  I try my best not to name the pigs because I get too attached to them.  It's a little different with a milk cow; I expect her to be here for many years.

She's used to the halter now, balking now and then at things that only cows see.  lines on the ground are a problem.  Shadows sometimes.   The biggest breakthrough was developing a daily routine and sticking to it.  Not a problem for her, a problem for me.  Most animals I think are comforted by knowing what is going on, and have things become routine.

For this little cow, the routine is that I come and find her, and clip on her lead, and then lead her around for a while, eventually leading her to her ration of grain.  The routine is to be led around by the lead; I don't really want her to associate a particular place with feeding right now, as it's handy to have her just trustingly trot along behind and wait patiently when tied somewhere.

She does have horn buds, and having experienced full-sized cows with horns, I'm not a big fan.   I'm going to call a veterinarian in to dehorn her because I've never done it myself, and I'd like to have someone show me how it's done.

They are not particularly mean with their horns, but full-sized cows don't realize how big and hard their heads are sometimes, and you can get knocked out by her swinging her head around to get rid of a pesky fly.  Having her have horns just makes it worse. 

I did call the vet in to check her, vaccinate and worm her; that cost around $140, which seems high, but I'm a believer in vaccines.  One of the vaccines was for tetnus - which takes about 10 days to work.  So I put off the dehorning until that shot was effective.

So I've invested about $650 into this little girl so far; and I'm having to convince myself that spending money at this stage is wise, that it's a long term investment.


Lee Johnson said...

When I first read this post, I thought you were thinking about getting into dairy. (I missed the post title.) With $2/gallon prices for milk at the grocery store, I don't see how anybody is still in business.

Bruce King said...

I think that dairy farming is the hardest kind. Huge capital requirements, constant, relentless work, commondity prices that are hugely variable, and regulated to within an inch of life.

I'm not going to go into the dairy business.

But having a milk cow on the farm seems like it'd work. Yes, its a bit of a chore, but I'm liking the idea of taking yet-another major food area out of anonymous food land, and into my farm.

pretty much all the meat I eat anymore comes from my farm; seasonal vegetables. Dairy is something that I like a lot (cheese, cream, milk, butter) and a single cow will provide plenty.

Plus it's kinda cool and interesting. A new project.

off grid mama said...

I think it's great you're looking at doing dairy. However, I just wanted to make you aware that cows are very aware of their horns. We leave the horns on all our cattle dairy or not. Horns help regulate body heat among other things. How different would you feel if you had your hand cut off? Maybe a little melodramatic .. lol however, the only time a cow accidentally got me with the side of her horn I tripped while she was in mid head swing and I fell into her. But she still tried her hardest to halt her swing. Otherwise if they threaten me in any manner a wack on those horns with a stick rings their noggin. Treat them like 1000 lb mischevious children they are far smarter than you realize. You just have the advantage of their predator/prey instinct.