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Friday, January 16, 2009

Why can't the calves stay with the cows?

A question that is frequently asked by visitors on dairies.

We had a case in point happen last week.

We moved a cow from the dry cow pasture to the milking herd because we weren't sure what she was up to; if she had already miscarried a calf and was going dry, or if she was yet to calve. Hubby was going to get her in the barn and examine her.

That very evening though she had a calf. By the morning one of the other cows had claimed it. And that is where you run into trouble. In every herd there is always a cow, or two, or three... that tries to claim other calves. They chase the mother cow off and nurse the cow themselves. This isn't a bad trait when you need a nurse cow for bottle calves. But in this case we are afraid she prevented the calf from getting any colostrum, or first milk, from the mother cow. This can be a very critical thing because the colostrum has antibodies and such that the calf needs to prevent health problems on down the line. When hubby milked the cow later I tried to get some into the calf via bottle, but she (the calf) had tanked up on the other cow and wouldn't drink it.

If you had several cows with calves it'd be an issue trying to get them all separated for milking, and hubby just doesn't have that much patience. So we separate them after 24-48 hours. And if we do so earlier then we make sure and get colostrum into them.

It is snowing here this morning. I cancelled my regular Friday morning shopping trip. The past couple of days it has been in the single digits and dipped down to zero (about -15C I believe) at night. It has warmed up to the teens this AM (about -8C).

Yesterday I bought tickets for my mom to visit us in June; June 26 through July 10. I hope it's not too horribly hot then, but it probably will be. Anyway, it'll be fun for her to spend time with Ellen.


Amrita said...

Now that 's called kid-napping.

moe said...

How is the calf doing NOW ? Your snow? Your family ?

Calfkeeper said...

amrita-hahaha, yes, I guess it is.

moe-calf is doing well now. We are all doing OK also. The snow is gone, thank goodness.