Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dairy cow project: 90 days to calving

This is a continuing series on raising a cow from a calf as a family milk cow.  To see the first entry of the series, click here.  To see the previous entry, click here.  To see the next entry, click here

I overheard a conversation one time where someone thinking about farming was asking a farmer what they shoul do first, and the answer surprised me.  "Plant fruit trees!".  It takes a while to get some things done, and  you might as well start the clock as soon as you can!

It's a little like that for my dairy cow.  The last time I wrote about her was in July, when she weighed in at 630lbs; now, almost 8 months later, she weighs 1040lbs by the weight tape, a gain of 410lbs. 
She was bred in November at 80% of her adult weight, so that she would give birth to the calf when she was 24 months old.  She was impregnated the old fashioned way via bull, and she's on track for a July delivery. 

She is right where she should be in terms of weight and age - I've been working to keep her growth and development as close to what they describe as optimum as I can, which has meant that I've given her more food sometimes, less others.  I'm happy that she's right on track. 

She outgrew her old halter, and I bought a new one for her.  I'm glad that I worked with her as a calf to halter train her.  She leads calmly and easily, and I spent an hour or so running a brush over her. 

I'm mixed about her horns, but at this point I'll probably live with them.  I think I will cut the points off them though; make them a little less of a hazard, but she's good natured and I'm hoping that they won't be a problem. 
Another cow had sprayed manure on her side, so I hosed her off and brushed out the manure, and then took this picture.  The left side is her stomach side; she's getting plenty to eat and her stomachs are full.  the right side is the calf, which is riding low but appears to be developing on schedule.  We're still 90 days from the estimated delivery date, so I'm not sure how big she'll get before she delivers.  She was bred to a lowline angus bull with a low birth weight calf, so I'm hoping it will be an easy delivery; for her and my sake!

I make a point of leading her places via her halter, and spend some time each time sitting at her side on a bucket, brushing her and handling her.  I want her to be used to being handled and my being there, and, honestly, I want to see if she's going to fuss about it, or kick at me.  No problems so far.  The goal is to have the routine be the same after she gives birth, but I'll be milking her as well as brushing her. 


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

She sure has grown up!

Make sure to watch her for too much weight gain if she is calving in August (bred in November), fat is as bad as thin in a dairy cow. Ketosis is the usual culprit unless you supply energy via carbs.

These BCS scoring articles are pretty helpful.

Next thing you know you'll be milking!

Bruce King said...

Thank you, Throwback. I have read your blog for years as I thought about having a cow and appreciate your writing about the process very much.