Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Hand raising a family milk cow

My favorite milk cow died this last year from calving complications; she was 6 years old, and that's
young for a cow to die, and I was pretty sad about it.  I have a small herd of beef cattle that I would
run the milk cow with, and it was always handy to have her around to lead the other cattle with.  I'd walk out, put a halter on her, and then lead her wherever I wanted the herd and they'd all follow.  
My original milk cow in 2012 that I named "cow" because I suck at names

I found a little heifer that I thought might work at the auction.  She's 330lbs, about the same as the original milk cow and I just now got done getting her set up in the barn after transporting her from the auction; she looks to be 4 months old, which is the age that I wanted to start with.  

I don't want to mix her with my cows for a while for quarantine reasons, so I'll pen her away from the other stock and feed and care for her over the next few weeks to make sure that she's healthy and in
good shape.  

Part of the initial care for a new cow is to get it on a healthcare schedule that you know about; I don't know when she was last wormed, or if she was, and what if any vaccinations she's gotten, so I wormed her and gave her an 8 way vaccination and bangs vaccination.   

I use an old-school method of tracking animal vaccinations - i have a calendar on the wall that contains the vaccination status of my dogs and livestock, and I can look back at it to see where things are.  I have to be careful to put it down as soon as I do it however; because if I can't remember it and it's not on the calendar I'll do it again, and while it probably won't hurt to get two doses, it's an unneeded expense.  

This 330lb calf was $150 at the auction, which works out to be about 45 cents a pound; I mention that
because started beef calves of the same weight sell for a lot more.  a 330lb beef calf would have sold for about $400 - assuming $1.25/lb.  Beef calves are pretty popular right now and will get more popular as we get into spring.  

I'll be buying more beef calves this year if I can find some that I like the look of and that aren't too expensive.  

If you'd like to see the process I went through with the last cow, you'll find the first entry here, and that entry contains a link to all of the blog posts I made about that cow.  

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