Wednesday, May 23, 2012

family milk cow project - progress

I've written a number of entries about my family milk cow project.  They're linked together -- you will find the first entry here. 

To see the previous entry in this series, click here.  To see the next entry click here.

 It's raining hard when I'm taking these pictures, so her coat doesn't have the normal glossy sheen to it, but she looks good to my eye.  We have a "I get to graze" ritual, where i lead her from the corral over to the pasture to graze for the day, and then back.  Point of it is to get her used to being led around and to associate things she likes with that process.  I usually unclip her and let her graze; I've still got the lead on in these pictures.  She's quite happy to be lead around.

I check her weight using the holstein weight tape I've got, and  her weight now is ...  238!  what?   Ooops.  one side of the tape is printed in kilograms, the other in pounds.  Turning it over she's 519 pounds right now.  So I go back to the chart. 

The last time I checked her weight it was on April 6th, and she weighed between 421 and 444 pounds, which was right on the growth curve for an 8 month old heifer.  A month later at 519lbs, shes gained (519-444) 75lbs over 47 days, for an ADG (Average Daily Gain) of 1.59lbs, which is right in the middle of the range I'm shooting for (1.5 and 1.7 pounds/day)

I'm a little amazed.  I look at this cow every day, and I wouldn't have guessed that she's grown 75lbs.   

 So this is mostly just a confirmation that things are going well.  She's exactly where she should be at this age.  This has been mostly painless, actually.  The basic feeding regimen is as much hay or grass as she can eat, and 2lbs of dairy feed per day -- call it 2 to 3 quarts of feed, by volume.  The hay/grass is free choice, the grain I feed in a small trough. 

At this rate, I'll be at breeding weight in October of this year.  That would have her calve in July, which is a pretty nice time of the year for me.  No risk of flood, warm weather, good grass and at least 90 days before the cold-and-wet season.   Sounds like a plan.  

  She tolerates my fussing with the tape with aplomb; she's much more interested in the green grass.  


Sagecreek said...

She looks great Bruce! Have you ordered that milking machine yet?lol

becky3086 said...

I read this but never had time to comment. She really does look wonderful. Wow, they gain weight fast!