Friday, September 5, 2014

Farm Photo Friday (9/5/14)

There's an old joke shared by dairy farmers (and I presume a few other folks) that we celebrate Labor Day by laboring. That was true for us once again on the farm, and was also the case for a couple of our pregnant cows. Cow no.086 went into labor Monday afternoon and easily birthed a heifer calf. Cow no.038 didn't have it quite so easy.

my father helping cow no.038 deliver her calf
My father made a final check on the cows in our maternity pasture when we finished milking Monday afternoon. He noticed that no.038 appeared to be having labor pains, but with no visible sign of a calf being born. We herded her to the working pen so we could help her have her calf, and dad discovered that it had a leg turned backward at the knee which was preventing it from being delivered. After "going in her" and straightening the calf's leg, he attached the OB chains to it's front ankles and begin to pull. It wasn't a very big calf, and it pulled rather easily. Unfortunately though, it had already died prior to our intervention.

That's the way it goes on the farm sometimes. Our cows rarely have calving problems, and even when they do the calf is usually delivered alive and healthy. This was just one of those times that it didn't work out...a bad way to end a holiday.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dairy Good Questions (9/4/14)

This week's edition of "Dairy Good Questions" is going to be a quick one..

DGQ 1) What is a mineral tub for?

Answer: Mineral tubs are used to provide supplemental vitamins and minerals to cows that are out on pasture and rely on grazing or hay as their primary diet. These tubs contain trace minerals such as selenium, zinc, and cobalt, and are available in several different formulations depending on the animals' nutritional needs. The tubs we provide for our heifers and dry cows come with the minerals and vitamins suspended in a molasses-based liquid that is poured into a plastic tub and hardens into a block. Cows will spend a few minutes a day licking the mineral tub, seeming to instinctively know both when they need it and when they've had enough.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to send your questions to me any time!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Farm Photo Friday (8/29/14)

Happy Friday, y'all! I have two farm photos to share and discuss with you today.

WARNING: cows in mirror are closer than they appear
Most of Tuesday morning was spent "working" dry cows and pregnant heifers. We walked the group from their pasture to the milking barn, sorted them into three smaller groups based upon their expected calving date, and then walked each group back to their respective pastures. When we are dealing with lots of animals (around 60 in this case) in close-by pastures, walking them down County Road 36 is much quicker than setting up a catch pen and hauling 6-8 at a time.  So if you're ever driving by our place and see us moving them on down the road, just remember that the cows in your mirror are closer than they appear.

The second "photo" is a video I shot while dumping a load of corn silage over into our truck. That process happened 113 times over the past ten days, and I'm glad to say that our first round of silage harvest is now complete. We will spend the first part of next week making some repairs and adjustments to the harvesting equipment, and I expect to be back in the field the week after that. I expect to repeat this scene at least another 85-90 times with the corn that remains, and then well over 100 once we start chopping sorghum a month from now.

Y'all have a "dairy" good weekend!