An escaped cow, and #50 has a new calf, #94

Last night just as I was cooking dinner I received a phone call.

“One of your cows is out.”

Ugh, Sunday night during dinner? What a time to get out. I finished up dinner quickly, ate like someone who’d been starving to death for the last month, and then raced out the door to get our errant cow. The fact that it was nearly dark, and that the bottle of wine was nearly empty didn’t add to my excitement over this situation.

Luckily Spork eats faster than I do, and Dustin was up having dinner with us. So the boys all headed over in the increasing darkness. We saw the calf out, walking along the fence line trying to figure out how to get back in. I’d planned ahead and had brought the tools I needed to disassemble the fence. I’d also thought to unplug the fence charger, saving that bit of excitement.

With help from both boys, plus all of the cows who came over to watch the excitement, I took the fence apart. There are four wires that need to be disassembled. I started at the top, because I am old and bending over hurts. May as well warm up on my way to the bottom wire.

I quickly decided that the bottom wire was going to stay attached because if his butt managed to get out through four wires, he could very well hop over one to get back in. Plus that last wire was way down there and I didn’t feel like getting it.

As I was unhooking the third wire, it suddenly snapped out of my hands. I looked over to see that our calf had nearly jumped the third wire coming back into the pasture. Nearly as in not really. Luckily I had it apart already so it just flopped onto the ground. With now ALL of all of the cows looking at us, we went about putting the fence back together. Luckily Miguel and Vicente have been doing fencing the past week and all the fence tooling is in the Gator, including the fence puller which is required for putting this type of fencing back together. Otherwise we’d really have been in a pickle keeping the cows in for the night.

While cursing, laughing, and generally getting things done by cell phone light (thanks Dustin) I managed to get the fence back together and ready to contain cows. While working, I looked over at the cows and noted a calf that looked new. Kinda hard to tell which black cow is which in the dark, but I didn’t think this one was here before. I wasn’t chasing him down in the dark, so I texted Miguel to let him know so he could look in the morning.

Sure enough I got a text this morning, #94 was born Sunday to Sprinkles, #50.

Our new little girl calf, #94
Our new little girl calf, #94

Sprinkles is one of our great moms. A girl calf from her, with Boyd as the dad, should make for a good momma. Hopefully this little girl will be a keeper.

Proud momma, #50
Proud momma, #50

I have no idea how the cow got out. He was young, so probably doing something stupid. There is nothing wrong with the fence.


#75 has a new calf, #92

Sometimes I get behind on posting who was born when. Fortunately we just worked cattle so I have everyone’s weights and a good list of who is who.

On Valentine’s Day, #75 had a pretty little calf, #92.

#92 with her mom, #75
#92 with her mom, #75

#92 weighed 47 lbs on 2-28-18 when we weighed everyone. She was doing well.

Cattle herd update for February 2018

Yesterday we did our spring workups of our cattle herd. This entails bringing every cow, both bull and baby, into the corral and then one by one into the head gate. There they are inspected, ear tags checked, weighed, and if needed dewormed. All total we have 56 cows between the beef herd and the milking herd.

We used to deworm all the cows routinely when I was growing up. That was just a normal part of having cattle. Then I started managed intensive grazing and found that the professed elimination of deworming was nearly correct. When the cows are out on pasture, moving to fresh grass every day, they simply do not need to be dewormed. Cows gain weight, their coats look good, and overall they are much healthier.

But when we switch to winter time feeding, even if we move them around, they still spend too much time in one place. And therefore by the end of winter some of the cows are showing too much sign of a parasite load. What we’ve found best is one time during the late winter, we bring the cows in and inspect them one by one. For the ones that are needing some help, we deworm them. For the majority, we do nothing. Everyone hits fresh spring pasture in good shape and they spend the rest of the year in a natural cycle. For any cows that we are planning on eating in the next few months, we make sure that they do not get any deworming. If they needed deworming, we would give it to them, but they’d be pushed back to later in the year for their appointment at the processor.

The last thing we do is to publicly show what it is we are doing. To show who got what treatment, how much, etc. Not listed in this list of cows is our two milk cows, their two calves, and Lil’ Bit the belted galloway and the one cow that is in time out for being greedy, #79. All those cows don’t need any deworming or weights (we aren’t eating them), at least right now. Here is our spreadsheet of cows, weights, and what we did on February 28th.

Ear tag color
Ear tag number
Yellow 92 47 None None
Yellow 59 551 Ivomec 5cc
Yellow 75 516
Red 37 1051 None None
Yellow 64 830 Ivomec 8cc
Yellow 99 94 None None
Yellow 97 413 None None
Yellow A?, Cut on bottom
1219 None None Very tall, not fat
Yellow 70 763 Ivomec 7cc
Yellow 83 594 None None
Yellow 81 573 Ivomec 7cc
Yellow 84 513 None Crazy
Red 42 1303 None None
Yellow 86 423 None None
Boyd Unweighed None None
Red 50 965 Ivomec 10cc
Yellow A?, No markings 1116 Ivomec 10cc
Yellow 68 772 None None
Yellow 50 1379 Ivomec 14cc
Yellow 87 302 None None
Yellow 80 370 None None
Yellow 33 1195 Ivomec 11cc
Yellow 46 1127 Ivomec 10cc
Yellow A?, vertical cut,
Stain on right
1188 None None
Yellow 58 823 None None
Yellow 73 766 Ivomec 7cc
Yellow 51 943 Ivomec 10cc
Yellow A?, cut off ear tag 1328 Ivomec 10cc
Yellow 72 811 Ivomec 8cc
Red 41 1078 None
Yellow 54 865 Ivomec 8cc
Yellow 77 727 None None
Yellow 100 82 None None
Yellow 98 363 None None
Yellow 88 336 Ivomec 3cc
Yellow 76 596 None None
Yellow 1 1298 None None
Yellow 85 363 None None
Yellow 23 1009 Ivomec 10cc
Yellow 45 1066 None None
Yellow A?, No cut 1158 None None
Yellow 66 1106 Ivomec 10cc
Yellow 74 1111 Ivomec 10cc
Yellow 67 1014 Ivomec 10cc
Yellow 93 88 None None
Yellow 61 709 Ivomec 7cc
Yellow A12 1135 Ivomec 10cc
Yellow 96 279 None None
Yellow 65 1023 Ivomec 10cc
Red 40 1240 Ivomec 10cc


Cattle with incomplete records, #83, #85, #96

In going through all the recent cow records, I have a number of new calves that have incomplete records. These may have been retagged, born and I didn’t get notice, or most likely born, I got notice, but didn’t get it recorded.

That’s never a problem as I can always go back and look through my texts for these births, except I can’t find any of these numbers in my texts for having been born. This post is to put a record in place for these missing calves. As we work them next time, we’ll get more information and fill in the rest of the info.

#83 weighed 594 lbs on 2-28-18 meaning he/she is probably about a year old.

#96 only weighed 279 so probably less than six months old.

#85 weighed 363 so probably about six months old.

#46 has a new calf, #93

It is calf-a-palooza around here! #46 just had a little bull calf, #93.

#93, banded and ear tagged
#93, banded and ear tagged

Miguel and Vicente grabbed the little calf and made sure he was tagged, banded, and nursing his mom. All was good so they went about the rest of their morning. But of course Miguel went back and checked again just to make sure. He found this cow nursing #46 instead of the wobbly just born calf.

#79 in the head gate
The criminal, #79 in the stockade

#79 was being aggressive and stealing milk, and the little calf wasn’t able to get any. #79 has a mom and is more than big enough to not need to nurse. She was simply being greedy, at the expense of the little calf. Miguel brought her up to the barn and we put her in the head gate, as you see here. I had something on hand for a greedy calf.

#79 with a weaning ring
#79 with a weaning ring

This is a weaning ring. It clips on like a clip on earring and just hangs off the cows nose. They can eat, they can graze, they can do pretty much everything they normally do, except if they try to nurse a mom. The ring is covered in spikes that point up. If the cow tries to nurse, the spikes poke the mom in the udder and she kicks the calf or moves away. No more nursing for greedy calves .

We then turned #79 out in the milk cow pasture to make sure she was away from the just born calf. She’ll spend a couple of days there surrounded by all them milk she could drink and no chance to get any. Seems fair.

We’ll go back and remove the weaning ring in a few months. After our calves are born and this girl has learned her lesson.

We are back to milking and #91 has a new home

Our little Orphan Annie calf, #91 has a new home. Miguel posted a picture of her on Craigslist and had a tremendous response. We found a farmer in Siler City who specializes in animals like #91, who are orphans or their mom doesn’t want to take care of them.

#91 making friends with her new mom
#91 making friends with her new mom

The farmer said in this particular case, he’d just bought a little bull as well so he planned to keep both #91 and the bull and raise them to make their own babies. I certainly hope that #91 is a better mom than her mother was. At least this way she’ll have the chance to be.

#91 at her new home and with her new family
#91 at her new home and with her new family

Today is the first day that we are back to milking like normal. That means we’ll have a normal days worth of milk in the fridge today, but we don’t have any back stock from previous days to help with demand. So as of today, we are still on the one gallon per family restriction but by Wednesday of next week, we’ll be back to buy all you want.

I’m not sure when the rest of our production will be back in business, but for now we are keeping up, barring any more issues like with #91. Once the rest of the cows deliver their calves, we’ll be back to milkapalooza.

Milk supply is being interrupted. #70 has a bottle calf, #91

Monday we found that we had another little calf on the farm. Seems February is a popular time to drop a calf around here.

Vicente came and told me about lunch time that there was a new calf, but no momma that appeared to be taking care of it. I told him to give it a little time, maybe the mom was recovering, grabbing some food, getting water, whatever. No sense rushing into these things if you can help it. Momma cows have been taking care of calves for a lot longer than we have.

But then Miguel got back and they went to go take a look together. There was a new momma, but she had no interest in the calf. #70 is a first time mom, and apparently had decided that this motherhood thing just wasn’t going to work in her life. The guys brought the mom and daughter up to the barn where we could put them together in a relatively small space. Maybe the mom would figure it out? The baby was immediately trying to nurse but the mom kicked her away, pretty hard actually. Then she head butted her away again. So we took mom back into the barn yard and put her in the head gate. This is the contraption we use to handle sick cows, do surgery, administer medicines if needed, etc.

We got mom inside and then locked her up. We have an access panel to the cows feet so we completely removed it to give calf level access. We also took the cows back leg and tied it up so she couldn’t kick (she tried). This gave access to mom’s area for nursing.

Getting that first so important milk from mom
Getting that first so important milk from mom

The little calf went right to work. It was obvious she was hungry and despite the terrible treatment from her mother she was still at it trying to get milk somewhere. The first milk that a mother cow makes is colostrum. This is the milk that passes down the antibodies and the disease resistance from mom to child. It was vitally important that we get the calf to nurse from her actual mother.

More nursing from #91
More nursing from #91

We spent about 30 minutes letting the little calf nurse all that she could. This entailed hovering over the calf because even though these pictures look calm and cute, the reality was the mom would go crazy trying to get out and away from this little parasite. I’d have to scoop the baby up to keep her from getting hurt, let mom tire herself out, then put the calf back to go back to work.

After the calf had obviously gotten some milk, we put the two back in the stall to see if mom could figure it out now that she’d done it once. She immediately kicked the calf and wanted nothing to do with her. With that result, we went and got Hedy, one of our milk cows.

#91 nursing on Hedy in the milking parlor
#91 nursing on Hedy in the milking parlor

Let me just say for the record. It is AWESOME having a milk cow who was just standing there watching all this going on. Hedy walked up to the barn with me, cool as a cucumber. I put her in the milking parlor, gave her a treat to snack on, and put little #91 in the right spot. She immediately started nursing while Hedy happily munched away. Once the calf had gotten all there was to get, we put everybody back where they needed to be.

Erin, our milker and milk cow wrangler, volunteered to come up and bottle feed the calf that night (Thanks Erin!!) She then put Hedy in the stall with #91 the next morning (while I slept) instead of milking her. Thanks again Erin. I forgot to set my alarm.

#91 nursing in the stall
#91 nursing in the stall

The calf went to town and had a big breakfast and last I looked in on her was running around and bucking and happy. All was good with the calf. Hedy wasn’t really excited about the change in schedule nor with being locked up for the day but we need a mom to take care of this little calf while she gets her strength. She’s going to need it.

This afternoon, we are turning Hedy back out with #91 at her side. At that point, her existing calf is going to take back over the nursing duties. We will have three calves, and two milk cows, all sharing the same pasture. We may have to supplement with bottle feeding as #91 gets her strength and fights for her share of milk. Miguel is going to list her for sale as a bottle calf which some people like to raise. Hopefully we can get #91 sold to a good farm where she can have a good life. I don’t need an extra cow that doesn’t have a mom.

As for #70? We have a good hamburger customer who routinely needs product. She will be taking our next slot at the processor. I’m a big mean farmer with no heart who eats his cute animals. How terrible and dead inside I must be. But you don’t kick a calf around here and get away with it. Especially a cute little defenseless new born calf. #70 is outta here.

I know we were just getting to the point where we had milk routinely in the store. I’m sorry. Things are going to be disrupted for a while until we get this sorted out. I was just about to the point of telling people you can buy all you want, restrictions are over but it looks like we will be on restriction of 1 gallon per family for a bit longer.