Tuesday, June 10, 2014

...three steps back

I've been raising a batch of dairy heifers under the advice of the local dairymen i've talked to; starting with young calves, bottle feeding them and then weaning them onto grass.  Things went pretty well; twice daily feedings and the weaning process, and this batch of 10 progressing nicely.

Well, all but one.  A little jersey heifer never really did very well.   I made sure she was bedded well and had food and water, but she lost weight and didn't look good; I wormed her and considered calling a vet, but for the cost of the vet visit I could buy another heifer, and so economics won.  She finally stopped eating and died.  The other 9 were doing ok, so while it's a small setback, it's not really unexpected.  Sometimes you lose one despite your best efforts.

Of the other 9, one was a little bull calf, and was a little behind the others in development, but the other 8 were fine and in due time I moved them to a summer pasture.

The property is fully fenced, but it's got a ditch that runs across the eastern edge, and it's difficult for me to say that I lost 3 of the little heifers into that ditch, near as I can tell the day we moved them there.   They were young cows, and the grass was long.  I got a count of the cows we'd moved from the guy who transported them, and I went down every day and counted them...  only to figure out that the count was 3 short.

That took three days, and so I went down to see if I could find them, and sure enough, I found all three, dead in the ditch.

This is the hardest sort of loss; there's time, and money,  and I am just kicking myself that I didn't fence that ditch off or something.

So I started with 10, and then I was down to 7, and today my count came up short; another little heifer is gone.  She's only a couple of hundred pounds, and and she's not anywhere I can find.  I'm wondering if she got stolen.  She'd be the easiest cow to steal -- small, bottle-friendly, trusting -- but I have to say that the move to greener pastures this year has been a disaster.  Not the way I'd like it to have gone at all.


Anonymous said...

Don't thieves call cattle "slow elk" in your neck of the woods? Sad to say I suspect your last one has been eaten.

Adam Stevens said...

Yep, slow elk. That sucks though. Seems odd that they'd snag just one.