Josie is Heating Up

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Last Monday morning, oh, about 1:30am…..Josie started MOOOOOOOing and woke Honey up. I finally heard her at 3:30am and every half hour thereafter. She bellowed alllllllllllllllllllllllll day long. She was a girl looking for her bull. I was very very glad that our nearest neighbors were on vacation. And I’m guessing they are too! As soon as I heard her I said to myself….she’s in heat. Well, Honey didn’t know what to think so he’s outside walking all around the pasture like a good guard dog would do. He didn’t find anything and tried to go back to sleep.

It all started last Sunday, when Josie gave Joy a 20-30 minute bath. She fit the bill from what I read. Licking, curling lip, bellowing, mounting Joy.

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Hold still while I get your neck.

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Boy your ears are dirty.

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You’ve really gotta do a better job washing.

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Time for a few head butts!

Last Monday Josie bawled until early/late afternoon and then she stopped. Then Tuesday morning, she had a bloody show. My window of fertility is very small and it seems to me that will be late Monday afternoon on the 26th. I’ve got my calendar marked 21 days ahead, so like clock work she ought to come into heat again at the end of the month. It’s a good sign that she’s having strong heats after her stillbirth.

Honey and I have decide along with my new cow mentor and vet that she ought to be bred now. That will give us a July calf and that will be good for Josie and the calf. There will be an abundance of green grass for the needed nutrients that Josie will need in the last two months or pregnancy. She will have a better start on this next pregnancy and we pray that it goes well for her.

I’ve been working hard to build her condition after the dead calf. She’s now on our pasture being supplemented with organic orchard grass hay, organic apples, organic carrots, sunflower seeds with molasses and organic mangels for treats. I give her probiotics, Selenium w/ Vit E, occasional herbs, Kelp, Cow Minerals and Vit C.

I JUST found a bull to be our sire….all for $25.00!! Wahoo! He’s 1/2 Jersey & 1/2 Limousine. He’s been throwing heifers, but if I get a bull, he’ll be a good beefy bull. And I JUST talked to my beef man and he’s agreed to transport Josie over to the mountains for her rondevu!

She’s not the only one heating up! I never thought I’d be giddy over such a thing!

All things work together. Amen.

(Joy has got to go!  She is nothing but trouble and I’m guessing she’s going to the Arctic Box!  If anyone wants her, come and get her!!!)

Wordless Wednesday

YEAH RIGHT!!!!!

Did you really fall for that?

Come on….then you don’t know me.

I’ve never been wordless. Ask my father, who use to pay me 25 cents for 15 min’s of silence! Really. I don’t ever remember getting the money. Ok, maybe once!

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I think Josie’s body condition looks good two weeks after we pulled a dead calf. Since giving Josie and Joy additional supplements to the little grain they get daily, their coats are velvety soft.

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Here she is catching a few winks and dreaming of more grain. (Please excuse her dirty backside.)

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Joy is wearing a new spiked nose ring. I put the bovine girls together on Sunday, hoping that we will be able to see a standing heat in Joy. But, I didn’t want to take any chances of her trying to suck Josie again. She looks pretty cute! And she manages quite well at swinging it out of her way.

As soon as I put the girls back together on Sunday, Josie started sniffing Joy. She made the funniest faces. She’d curl her upper lip up and smile toward the sky! Then in the evening when I was saying good night, Josie tried to mount Joy! That’s what’s called a standing heat. Of course Josie is twice the size as Joy, but she tried. I marked my calendar.

We made a decision this weekend about whether to get a goat or another cow. We decided to use what we’ve got, because I don’t want a third cow and Honey doesn’t want a goat (YET). Joy will be 12 months Oct 20 and she is near breeding age. We will begin AI-ing her soon. I called my AI tech and gave him a heads up that I’ll be needing his services for my heifer. Now I have to order Jersey bull semen!

Another first! OMIGOLLY, who ever thought I’d be talking like this??? Not me! When I first started using these terms, I’d whisper in public while blushing….AI you know, artificial……they’d get it before I’d have to finish it. Now I just let it all hang out. No shame here.

Honey and I agreed that we’d continue to try and breed Joy until the latest calving date acceptable to me, which will be in January. I’m not thrilled about having a winter calf. I think there are just too many issues to worry about. I am willing to have a calf no later than October (9 months gestation). So we have quite a few months to try, probably beginning in November with two possible conception dates 21 days apart. The sooner the better for all of us, but not too soon for Joy. She’s grown quite a bit this summer and I’ll measure her with the dairy tape to get an estimate on her weight. If all is good then it’s a go!

I’m looking for a Miniature Jersey Bull as the sire. Here’s a pic of Pvt Pyle! Since Joy is a petite girl, I’d like for her to have a smaller calf and Mini Jersey’s have a smaller frame than Standard Jerseys. Or I can find a Registered Jersey sire that breeds small calves. So many things to think about.

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Joy has really pretty coloring now, although it’s bound to change before she’s 2 yrs old.

Body Condition Scoring

As you know my entire vocabulary has taken the route of cows.

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On Keeping A Family Cow forum, it’s often asked for someone to comment on a certain cow’s body condition. As a newbie, I’ve found all the numbers more like scoring a swimmer in the Olympics….at least there I know what a perfect 10 is.

The most common range for dairy cows goes from 1-5. And of course somewhere in the middle is best. During a cows life cycle she moves in and out of different scoring.

I found a really great article published by the University of Arkansas on The Importance of Body Condition Scoring.

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Here is what I’m shooting for….a body score between 3 & 4.

I find this job hard because when looking at a pregnant cow, she’s obviously filled out and her body is getting ready for calving. But the vet said Josie looked a little heavy…..yeah, I looked a lot heavy when I was 8 months pregnant! But having been pregnant I can understand the need for good body condition….and I can say, I did not have it!

Here’s what the publication said:

3.0
“This cow is in ideal condition for most stages of lactation. The vertebra are rounded, but the backbone can still be seen. There is between a half-inch and an inch of tissue covering the short ribs. The edges of the ribs are rounded and not as sharp as the BCS 2.0 and 2.5 cows. Hook and pin bones are easily seen, but are round instead of angular. The ligaments connecting them to the backbone form clear boundaries between the forward and rear pelvic areas, but the fat covering
makes them appear smooth and round. The thurl is dished, but not to the same extent as in the thinner cows. The area on either side of the tail head is hollow, but the folds of skin are not as distinct.”
4.0
“Although many producers want their cows to be heavy at calving, research here and in England shows that fat cows lose more condition, eat less and have more post-calving problems than cows that freshen at half a condition score lower. A BCS 4 cow looks fleshy. Her back appears almost solid, like a table top. The short ribs still form a shelf, but they cannot be seen as individual bones and only felt with deep palpation. The hook and pin bones are rounded and have obvious fat padding. The area on either side of the tail

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In this photo though her pin bones look a bit fatty or are they just getting rounded for calving???? I have no clue!

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All I know is a face like that is a perfect 10!!!

Here’s The Deal

Honey says I say that ALL the time…..”ok, here’s the deal!”   He’s never sure what to expect!  But after almost 30 yrs of marriage, he isn’t surprised at anything that comes out of my mouth.  I’m so glad for his unconditional love!!!

I knew that if I posted pictures of Joy’s udder, there would be concern….and sure enough there was.  The cow forum that I belong to was certain that she must of been pregnant!  So after much stress over this little girl accidentally getting pregnant…..I found a new Vet closer to my home and she came out this morning.  After palpating her (yes, she was in my heifer up to her shoulder), she declared Joy NOT pregnant!!!  Wahoo!

She is what we thought all along…a little SUCKER!  When we got our two heifers she began sucking my bred heifer and then when I separated them, she started self sucking.  I shouldn’t of been surprised.   She sucks everything.  She is always grabbing my clothes and sucking.   And like I told you the other day, she was grabbing the electric line and sucking it.

DSCN2196The day I fell in love with Joy. A cold rainy day in December!

I felt really sorry for her….and that’s the reason I bought her.  I know….not a good reason….but why not?  Why not give a little calf that didn’t have a future a chance???  Why not???  With all the right care I believe she can become a good milk cow.  I just have to persevere through all of her little quirks. If we were all cast aside because of our quirks….I fear there wouldn’t be any of us left.

I still believe that Little Joy can become a good milk cow.  The Vet didn’t think that her udder looked damaged.  She just has a bad habit!  Don’t we all?

What’s yours?

Fences & Sling Shots

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Little Joy is such a stinker.  Saturday evening when I went out to feed and put the animals up for the night, Joy was making a sling shot out of the electric fence.

So, how do you know when the fence is down???  The calf is playing with it!

She was really funny to watch, but was insistent on continuing her bad behavior until I tethered her.  She’d grab the line with her tongue and pull it back, further and further until she couldn’t pull anymore….and then she let go…..!!!!  It was too funny to watch.  Then she was grabbing the extra line and chewing and chewing.  No wonder cows get hardware disease….yep, it’s from eating things that aren’t food!  Luckily she didn’t eat any electric line.

I didn’t stick around long enough to watch her get zapped on Sunday morning.  I’m sure it was a shocking experience!!!

And just like I told you, my cow mentor Tammy, told me that Joy’s udder looks a bit over developed for a heifer calf.  Remember a heifer is an unbred calf.  So unless she’s bred, which it seems very unlikely and let’s pray she’s not, then she just might be sucking on herself!  So, again I put lipstick on a pig, I mean cow, rather a heifer.

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It was much brighter before she rubbed some of it off on her foot and back.  But I didn’t see any on her udder.  I reapplied it on Monday morning.

I’ll be watching her.  I guess I might have to call the vet out to put in a permanent nose ring.  Boy, this girl will be quite in the style of things…. tattoos and nose ring!

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Sunflowers & Sunsets

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This is what I get to see when I go out to put the animals up for the night. I’m so glad I planted the sunflowers, however they were TOO much shade for the vines underneath and I didn’t get nearly as many butternut squash or pumpkins as I would of liked. But isn’t life about living and learning.

Yesterday Honey got a good portion of my milkroom built in our little barn.

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We raised the stanchion floor up 6″ to make it level with the entrance and I decided that I’d keep the gravel floor on my side, making me 6″ lower so if and when I hand milk it will be easier to reach.

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We had the barn built so the milk room was on the end opposite the turn-out stall and we planned for the door to open flush with the wall so that the cows could walk straight in and back straight out. We plan to build up the ground a bit more on the outside to help with the backing out part and drainage.

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I love my cow girls. Josie freely comes and goes now as she pleases. Although she has full reign all night of the barn and pasture, I usually find her sleeping in the barn early in the morning. If I sleep in and don’t get out until 7ish she’s out grazing in the pasture. Little Joy is still tethered at night….I have Little Joy stories for tomorrow. She is a stinker.

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I pick up the bite size apples off the ground and Josie quickly learned the word “Apple”! She loves her apple treats. Joy can’t figure out what they are and doesn’t even touch them….more for Josie!

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Drying Off A Cow

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I’ve had my Jersey Girls 1 month and a week! Seems much longer since I’ve been dealing with things that I didn’t expect.

Since I discovered Joy sucking on Josie, I realized that I had to do something that you normally wouldn’t have to worry about with a heifer (first time mom).

Drying her off.

After my neighbor took a look at her, he was certain that she’d been sucked and was producing milk for Joy. All the reading I’ve been doing, kicked in. If she was making milk…then she had to be dried off before calving. If not she could develop Milk Fever which is a very serious illness.

So, I proceeded to dry her off. I withdrew all of her grain and I’ve increased her hay intake. I don’t really understand it all completely, but the idea is to decrease the cows calcium intake dramatically so that she will start to draw calcium from her long bones because once she freshens, she will be making large amounts of calcium and to much prior to calving causes milk fever! I think I’ve got that right….or at least close. For condition, I’ll start to increase her grain intake a couple weeks prior to calving and then while she is milking so she stays strong. The more I grain, the more milk she’ll give me. I’m not looking to make her into a great producer. Since I can’t sell fresh milk in Maryland, I will already be swimming in it. Making more is not my goal. However, I want her to be a healthy good producer.

Josie has finally started to shrink in that one quarter.

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See the backside, it’s starting to shrivel.

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This picture is from a couple weeks ago before I separated Joy from Josie. Her quarter is full and tight. I’ve been making sure it doesn’t get hot or develop any hard spots because then I’d have to deal with Mastitis.