Sunday 3 January, 2016
I wrote this for the Shetland Cattle Breeders' Association newsletter but I thought I'd share it here too.
I thought it might be helpful to flag up the issue of flukicides and cows producing milk for human consumption. We started milking last summer (2015) – one cow was a fourth calver and the other a second. The issue of flukicide selection and milk production hadn’t crossed my radar before then. You may, at this point, be shaking your head and thinking “how could she not have thought of this before?” but although we’d had the idea to milk from Day 1, I’d dithered about it so long, i.e. four gestation periods, I suppose I’d kind of decided it was one of those good ideas that I’d never get round to J
Monday 2 November, 2015
Heaven’s, where does time go? Can’t believe the last entry was in JUNE. So quick catch up then I promise to do better.
The milking progressed quite well until the end of July, when we had a week’s holiday then a week later, the bull went in. By the end, we could just bring the calves in to the barn at night and the cows stayed out. That was much earlier and what we’ll be aiming for next year.
Mak went in with the cows from 19th August until the beginning of October. Although I never actually saw him working, he does “court” each cow in turn, grazing exclusively with her for two or three days. I think Rosie and Annie were served quite early on, but think Blizzard may have come back for a second service. We’ll have the vet out in a few weeks to PD them and jag Vicky to prevent any unwanted pregnancies – the main thing is that they are safely in calf.
Monday 22 June, 2015
Following from Sally's comment on Part 4, we've put the cows back out tonight after penning the calves. It's a bit noisy just now - well, we can't hear it but I bet all the folk in Ravensby Road can :-( . The grass is coming in now and the cows are in a fresh field so hopefully they'll settle down and get munching.
It was a bit of a rammy tonight as Blizz is coming into season, Annie is trying to mount her and Rosie and the calves were all over excited. I was glad Dan was there to help.
Sunday 21 June, 2015
OK, so following hard on the heels of Part 3, which was written two weeks ago, here's Part 4.
About ten days ago, we decided to start bringing the cows and calves in at night and milking in the morning. We brought them in at 10pm and milked at 6am. This routine was killing us - not getting to bed until 11pm and up at 6am just wasn't getting us enough sleep. Last night, I went to let the ponies out at 8pm and the cows were standing at the gate, bawling, so I let them in. More milk this morning and they all seemed quite content. And we'll get an extra couple of hours sleep. So result all round.
Monday 8 June, 2015
So the last not-so-daily blog was on 25th May and things have moved on a bit since then, in a mainly positive way.
One of the problems I had was getting Annie and her calf out of the field without being mugged by the others.
So w/c 25th May, I decided to split the “milking cows”, i.e. those with a likely capacity to milk, from the non-milkers. I had decided to try again with Blizzard, although she’s a fourth calver that hasn’t been milked before. Rosie, who’s a year old and will calve (and therefore milk) for the first time next year and is Annie’s daughter WILL be a milker. So I moved Blizz, Annie, Rosie and Blizz and Annie’s calves into one field – you will recall that these are one “family” with Annie being Blizzard’s daughter. Basically, this means that I now bring the whole herd in every day.
Monday 25 May, 2015
Well, my daily blog didn’t last long. But the milking has. Quick recap – after a couple of days, Blizzard was dropped from the milking project and only Annie kept on.
I’ve milked pretty much every day; I’ve changed from a plastic bucket to a stainless steel one – it’s huge and the bit of milk looks a bit lost in it.
Between the 11th and last Friday (22nd), Vicki got pretty good at following her mum into the byre; sometimes I used a halter to stop her going off exploring. On Friday, I couldn’t catch her and she wouldn’t follow, so I brought Annie in on her own. The biggest fuss is made by Blizzard (Boss cow and Annie’s mum), who bawls at the gate. I wonder if I should bring her in too, just to shut her up.
Monday 11 May, 2015
When we first got cattle in 2010, the intention was to milk them for the house. When Breeze and Blizzard calved for the first time in 2012, my head was too full of magic to try; in 2013, they kind of knew that the milk was for calves and weren’t keen on sharing. I was advised to try with a heifer so last year I tried (but not very hard) to milk Annie, when she had her first calf. But it’s always been there, eating away at me. I think because I couldn’t get the perfect system planned in my head, I couldn’t get started.
Monday 9 February, 2015
According to when we put the bull in, our four Shetland cows are all due to calve early May - Breeze and Blizzard for the fourth time, Annie for the second and Bonnie is a first timer.
At teatime, about 5pm, I started to feed everyone - hens, sheep, ponies, cattle - looked in the barn, and Bonnie was mooing and I could see liquid coming from her back end. I jagged them with Bravoxin on Saturday, without incident I thought, but the instructions do say to use in the third trimester. Ours are JUST in the third trimester and it was playing on my mind a bit. Two plus two made a hundred and twenty two!!!
Tuesday 13 January, 2015
With the cows and heifer calves inside, it's time to halter train the heifer calves. I enjoy this - gives me an excuse to spend time with the cows :-)
I suppose the way I do it changes slightly every year, based on the calves and previous experience. First thing is to get them addicted to sugar beet. The cattle are naturally greedy, especially for anything swet - so that's not too hard. I tie up all the cows - always starting with the most dominant, Blizzard, then Breeze, Annie then Bonnie. If you tie up any BEFORE Blizzard, she'll take advantage and duff them up. I untie them in reverse order, but for the same reason.
Friday 9 January, 2015
I do love a day when I learn something new, even when I'd amazed that I didn't know it before.
I was reading the NADIS site two nights ago, as you do, and looking at the page about castrating bull calves - we don't do our lambs with rings (I *have* done it but it was years ago) and until now, I've got the vet to do the bull calves either with a Burdizzo or by cutting, when he comes to PD the cows. Some pretty horrid photos of castrations gone wrong and it was just before dinner, but I'm made of stern stuff.