Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jersey double

Cows are a herd animal. Alone they are unhappy and will moo until back with another cow. A friend described an individual steer he tried to raise as "Houdini", as he was constantly escaping the fencing and gates to find other herds of cattle.

Most of our herd went to the butcher in February. We have our Jersey heifer, Sills, who stays with us. We kept back an Angus so that Silla would not be alone.

And then yesterday we took delivery of Sonya, another Jersey who is an aunt of Silla. At first the two we have were a tad wary, but in less than 12 hours they are all hanging out chewing cud and hay together.

Her transport got her a little dirty. We expect her to be clean in a day or two...precipitation from the sky cleans our herd right up.

The Angus will go to the butcher on Wednesday. Sonya is scheduled to give birth at the end of April.

Sonya is now in a state referred to as a dry cow. She is pregnant but not producing milk. The physical demands of producing a healthy calf as well as gallons of milk is just too much for the momma, so the last couple months of pregnancy she is not milked.

Silla will have her first calf about a year from now. Sonya will probably be a little later, so that between the two of them we will have a continuous supply of milk and cream.

We also use our milk cows to nurse young calves as they arrive on the farm. We are awful at botlle feeding calves, while a Jersey will allow calves not their own to nurse. Huge increase in survival for cattle we raise for beef if they have access to fresh milk during the first 3-4 months of life.

We separate the cow from the calves for the night when we need milk. In one milking there are several gallons of milk...more than the two of us need, so the vast majority go to calves.

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