Friday, September 7, 2012

holding on for dear life

We took delivery on a few week old bull calf the other day. Right now he is a tiny addition to the farm, while next year he will have an important job.

To have milk from a dairy cow that cow must have a calf. To have a calf the dairy cow must get pregnant. In a few months Sybil will need a visit from a bull or we will need to work out an artificial insemination program for her. Sounds simple enough, but the ai person needs to be here on the correct day to make it happen, which means we must observe and track her. A bull is so much easier!

Last year Sybil raised 2 calves, her own and another. We hope she does the same again this year, and if this picture is any indication she has adjusted to the two calves. At first she would not let the new calf on her, so Homer went out and spoke to her, explaining how important this additional calf is to the farm and how she needed to help us keep the little guy alive. Sybil also got a scoop of chicken feed in a bucket, to distract her while the bull calf latched on. Homer's talk and little bit of feed persuasion did the trick: she is happily allowing both calves to lock on and get milk from her. A dairy man told me that a Jersey can nurse up to 4 calves: because the milk is so full of butterfat and their mothering instinct is so strong they can produce plenty of milk.

Sybil, Silla and the bull calf were separated from the rest of the herd for these introductions. Once everything is going smoothly they will all run together again, but for now the 3 of them need to learn to get along!

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