Thursday, December 18, 2008

Can someone explain, Please


Things on the farm are pretty much routine at the moment. With everyone "in" for the winter there is little excitement. No fences to mend, animals to move, eggs to collect, weeding, harvesting~ just feeding and watering. Soon there will be less to feed and water as the lambs will be butchered soon. Well not all of them we plan to keep a couple to increase our flock, no rams though. It took awhile to find a place, last year we were lucky to have a friend whose brother is a butcher. Anyway the place actually has someone come out to the farm to slaughter, which is really great. You see the lambs have never been in a trailer or anywhere but here at the farm, not only that but can you imagine what the fear and smell of blood at the butcher does to the meat of the animals? 
We are starting quite a collection of snow- they are saying there is more to come this week. We don't mind we have plenty of wood to keep us warm and I would much rather have it cold with snow on the ground then just cold!  Athelas is doing a good job of modeling the freezing rain that we also received. She did not seem to mind- just wondering when will she gets her hay! 

Yesterday I saw her calf still nursing, not sure how long Athelas will allow that, it has been six months already. When we worked at the dairy farm they kept the calves on for about 6 weeks and then they weaned. This is a learning process for us so we really have no idea how long the calf will nurse. I have to say I am a bit confused, so Chuck said something about possibly weaning the calf in order for Athelas to go into heat so we could get her on a better calving schedule, no more hot summer calving. Okay but how do dairy farmers do it. Because milking a cow is just like a calf nursing (right?) so what makes them able to produce milk and go into heat? We weaned the calves but still milked the mothers. Can anyone explain this to me? Am I missing something? Thanks!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

We are still learning, too. We used to wean our calves at 4-5 months of age but learned that in order for their digestive system to fully develope you should wait until they are ten months old before you wean them. We are trying that right now with one of our heifers and plan to do that with all the calves born this next year. Don't get impatient, your next generation is going to be better than the cows you bought. It is worth waiting for.
As far as your cow coming into heat, she should cycle even with the calf on her. Feel her and see if she is ribby (you can feel her bones easily). If she is under condition that will explain why she's not coming into heat.
Is she in with the bull right now? If she is, she may be bred already and you just missed seeing it. If she is not bred after being exposed, she may be mineral deficient. I would try giving her some kelp meal. A friend of ours says that oftentimes the cows that aren't cycling will do so with the addition of kelp to their diet.
Winter is a hard time to get any cow bred so you might just have to wait until spring, late spring. Also, some cows have very hard to detect heats.
Hope this helps.
I know this comment is a bit late, but if you did already remove the calf from the cow within the last two or three weeks, I would recommend letting her go back with mama.

Taci
www.thelowerbarn.com

The Peterson Family said...

Taci~
Thank you so much for your information. We do not have a bull, and the calf is still on her mom. We are in no hurry so I figured I should do some research before doing anything. Lets say her condition is great and she has a calf on her is there a time we can sort of expect her to come into heat?
Do you have any great book suggestions??
Thank you so much!
Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Jennifer,
Sorry it has taken me awhile to get back to you. If she is great condition and is getting plenty of minerals, she should be cycling. It could very well be that none of your cows will "ride" each other when she is in heat, or she could be having silent heats (not detectable, except by the bull). I don't know about highland cattle, but with regular cattle you can tell if they are open, bred, or cycling by the swirl of hair on their back or neck. If the hair in the swirl is standing up she is open and cycling, if it is laying flat she is either bred or not cycling.
As far as books go, most tell you to talk to your vet. But I have learned that you don't talk to your vet. They have never been a positive help to us. All I've learned is that they don't care about your animals and antibiotics are the answer to everything. Do your own research. If you are able to take her to a bull, he should know if she is in heat, and you might never know she was until she calves. :)

Oh, one more thought, keep an eye on (under) her tail for any discharge (mucous or blood). This will be a big clue. Often when they are in heat you will see a string of clearish mucous. After their heat, there will be some bloody discharge. Both discharges often stick to the hair on the tail.

Hope you figure her out!

Taci
www.thelowerbarn.com

The Peterson Family said...

Taci,
Thanks for the info- one more question can the cows cycles change to coincide with one another? We have been noticing our milk cow's cycle are off from what they were. The highlander is the leader of our herd- could our milk cow's cycle be changing?
Thank you- I am so grateful for your help!
Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Jennifer,
I doubt that their heats are coinciding. The most likely cause of your milk cow's irregular heats is a mineral problem and/or the stress of the cold weather. I have found with our cows that the less healthy ones have irregular cycles, while the healthier ones have a steady schedule.
If you aren't already, I highly recommend offering kelp meal free choice to your cows. Our cows always seem to need some.
Hope this helps!
Taci
www.thelowerbarn.com