The calves are coming!RSS feed

Posted: Monday 18 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 9:01pm in Cattle Comments closed

We've had confirmation today that our calves will be arriving in Aberdeen on Thursday morning, weather permitting, so Dan and I will be heading up there to pick them up.

They are unhandled, but the breeder is bucket feeding them to get them used to that. I think they may be in the byre for a wee while! Actually, it's fine because the vet needs to come and see them on 4th November. The calves have been running with their dams, who have been running with the bull. Shetland cattle mature very early, so it's just possible that they are in calf. Now, Shetlands have successfully calved at 15 months, but we'd prefer to follow a more conventional breeding pattern.

So on 4th November, the vet will inject them with prostraglandin. This will bring them into season, causing them to abort any calf that they may be carrying. This has to be done between 10 and 110 days into pregnancy to be effective, so two weeks after they get here is perfect. We'll use a similar method when we come to AI them next summer, along with a vaginal implant (which we get to take out - job for Dan, I think).

The vet will also look at a health plan for both the cattle and sheep when he's here. I've found the vets at Parkside to be very helpful. It's a big practice, but only two partners and two associates do large animal work. I have to confess that I find this a bit strange - too much James Herriott in my youth probably. The one I spoke with this evening, Alastair, comes from a farm that breeds Blonde d'Aquitaines - so my wee Shetlands will be a breeze for him!

He was giving me halter training tips tonight - whatever happens, the training should make a good TAS video of either "how to halter train your cow" or "how not to halter train your cow".

Cattle are just such new territory for us. I worked for a year on a dairy farm, umpty years ago, and the cows haven't changed much, but many of the techniques have, so I have a lot of learning to do. Really looking forward to this, though.

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