There's better ways than this to start calving

For the dairy folks and/or beef folks with questions about udders, milk and mastitis.
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regolith
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:38 pm

One beautiful dry day yesterday and today it's back to cold and soggy :o

Twenty cows calved, intervention rates are higher than they've ever been, but minor hassles nothing critical. More than half the calves have had their first feed from a bottle because they're not figuring out what an udder is for within a few hours.
Four assisted calvings, all of them easy pulls with the calf presented correctly, no apparent reason for the calf not being born except the first and fourth were cows showing signs of milk fever. The second was a normal-sized twin out of a heifer, didn't check for a second and she had it on her own later but only the first one was born alive.
The live twin is quite enough of a handful!

Seeing vet vehicles driving past several times a day and it should only be the coastal farms that have even started calving yet... on Sunday too. I figured they must be coming past this way especially to admire my cows and calves in the roadside paddock.

I guess you learn something new every year. For all I've said the science 'proving' dairy calves hardly ever get enough colostrum on their own has got to be nonsense, this year my calves are doing the utmost to prove it. One of them messed around for half the day without getting a feed, I gave her a bottle she emptied it then went straight to her mum and started sucking like she'd been doing it for months :shock:

Grazing the cows round the sheds at night and one of the new mothers was kicking up a fuss for hours, she went quiet then I walked through them after midnight and she realised again that her calf was missing, and kept it up till daybreak.
I found her calf this morning piled up with another two in the corner of the hayshed, out of the wind and rain.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby bigbull338 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:03 am

how meny cows do you have left to calve before your done.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:44 pm

115 - 120, including about 49 first time calvers. The heifers' official start date was yesterday.
Getting organised to draft out a milking group and start supplying milk today, I've got fourteen that are calved long enough for their milk to be sold.
If I'm to get any more photos of a big group of cows and calves it'll have to be today, the calves will get pulled twelve hours before I catch milk for the factory which could be tonight or tomorrow.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby Nesikep » Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:51 am

It sounds like a zoo over there, and I'm sure there's not enough hours in the day (or night) for you.. good luck with all the heifers and the rest of them :)
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:13 am

335's calf, now two weeks old on 17 July
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Cows and calves the same day, a few minutes of sunshine
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finding shelter from the rain
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Dry cows later the same day
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The small calf shed this morning, the white calf is Ayrshire sired.
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The milking herd, 23 in number and rising, 32 cows calved to date.
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Nearly all the calves are inside right now, just one newborn and two strong heifers 2 - 3 days old out with their mothers. Another 10 ml of rain this afternoon, not much on its own but it's falling on already sodden ground.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby Nesikep » Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:29 am

Your dry cows look wet!

335's calf is REALLY cute!
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:50 am

Better weather helps but still the days just kind of vanish and there's not much time left for anything non-essential.

One milk fever this morning, lucky to find her alive but it took a bit of work to get her back on her feet. She calved yesterday and I'd taken the calf into a shed because it was hypothermic and couldn't stand. One of my favourite cows, it was a big relief when I found her this morning & waved a hand across a seemingly blank eye and she blinked.
So I'd counted four sopping wet calves in the group after bringing 185 back to life - three could walk onto the fresh grass, the newest one had to be carried.
Came back maybe three hours later to give 185 more calcium and not really paying attention to the four calves and cows running around, I keep noticing a skinny wet black heifer calf flicking in and out of my periphery vision and she doesn't quite make sense.
Until I look properly and realise that I'm not seeing 147 running after her daughter; there are five calves in the paddock and it's 147's mother chasing 147's brand new baby sister.
That was a bizarre moment.

41 cows calved so far, 20 heifer calves tagged. At this rate there should be plenty of replacement heifers to rear.
147's first milking was tonight and you couldn't get better behaviour. One of her aunties was leased to another farm for her first calving and when I spoke to the farmer a while later she couldn't believe that was a heifer I'd given her, she'd thought for sure this animal was already accustomed to milking & presumed she was a three year old.

I had problems with the tap on the milk vat not sealing properly; and concluded that when the milk company checked the vat in the winter they must have replaced the tap and 'done sum'ting wrong'.
So I got on the phone to Fonterra straightaway and told them what I thought they 'd done, was forwarded to the appropriate person who thanked me very much for calling and was there within a couple of hours to fix it.
On the last farm when I had similar problems with the vat DTS had supplied, it was like pulling hen's teeth trying to get anyone to come and fix it (different milk company). So being thanked for phoning up and complaining, then having it fixed promptly... I like this kind of world.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:29 am

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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:45 am

146's heifer calf above, making use of some poor quality hay.

Heifers on the point of calving... 132 managed to produce within the next twelve hours, still waiting on 120.
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See the tails wagging?
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This ought to be one of my replacement heifers, I didn't notice she had a problem till bringing the herd up when she was about 14 - 15 hours old, she seemed a little slow... and then she lay down, exhausted. In spite of the twisted legs she was getting around and feeding off her mum just fine. Four days old now and improving, so I'll keep her. I've never seen a calf like this before.
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Another replacement heifer
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This girl makes me forget 31 isn't in the herd any more; it's her daughter. She doesn't look the same but still, I see her mother every time I look at her.
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Checking the springer cows a few mornings ago:
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Yesterday morning:
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:57 am

I wasn't as lucky as I thought when I managed to get 185 back on her feet after the milk fever... she's just finished a course of antibiotics for pneumonia; I had the vet out several days later because she wasn't eating and it turns out she must have aspirated some rumen fluids into her lungs while she was down.

Now at the halfway point and three weeks into calving; I've lost count, but something between 65 & 70 have calved and I'll know for sure when I've written up all the latest calvings... but by then another one or four cows will have calved.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:01 am

Saw something new this afternoon.

At evening check for the calving cows there was a cow calving, she got to her feet before I got close and I could see something black and white on the ground, so she'd had it okay. When I got close enough to identify it as a calf I could also see the ribs heaving, evidence that it was alive and breathing... or attempting to breathe, because this close I could also see that the calf was still encased in the water bag and while Mum had started licking at the head, she was now working on drying the calf's belly.
Just as I got within reach of grabbing that membrane off the calf's nose (the head was covered to just below the eyes) the calf threw its head back and the membrane fell clear. Seconds old and able to ensure its own survival...

It's a heifer, to a cow I'd planned to cull because she's thirteen and has had serious issues with milk fever both last year and the year before. She's a good cow and there were others more in need of culling.

So I suppose this calf is about an hour old when the torrential rain driven by cold winds started. As soon as I could get away I went back to get her and bring her inside.
What did I find when I got there? Calf on her feet, standing against the hedge, Mum standing crossways shielding her calf from the weather. She was wet and cold, but the two are now in a small paddock with hedges on three sides... if the cow can keep that up I don't think I need be concerned about the calf tonight.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby bigbull338 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:55 am

how meny milkings do you throw away or feed the milk to the calves before the cows milk is good enough to go into the milk tank.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby Nesikep » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:08 am

You're in some nice country as well, love the mountains there!
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:59 pm

bigbull338 wrote:how meny milkings do you throw away or feed the milk to the calves before the cows milk is good enough to go into the milk tank.


First four days' milkings. I don't throw away milk unless it's from a treated cow, the colostrum that I don't feed immediately to calves gets stored and mixed into the milk for older calves about now, when there aren't enough new calved cows to feed all the calves.

About ninety cows in now, hard to believe there's still nearly fifty to go; it feels like I'm milking enough already. We really need a spell of warm weather now to let the soil dry out.
I think this year might be the longest I've ever kept the heifer calves housed inside. The neighbour has his out on grass but I'll wait for better weather if it's possible... there's none in the ten day forecast.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby J&D Cattle » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:12 am

Sounds like you are fairing pretty well through this tough weather spell. Beautiful pictures.
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