Shades of Ireland

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Faces

Since we are milking again, Adam has taken on a little more work. These are just two of the four dairy cross bull calves he is bottle feeding. Sweet faces.......

At first, I called this girl, Belle. Since we have been milking and handling her for a week now, her name has changed....... she is definitely a "Bertha".

This sweetie pie is still "Bambi". She is smaller in size and much milder in temperament.

I still have a hard time believing that I have sheep AND Jersey cows.......

The cows still have very sore feet. I am still afraid that poor Bambi is not going to heal up. They are gaining a bit of weight-- which is good and bad. Good because they look and milk better but bad because it is harder for their sore feet to carry the added weight. Each day, they wander out a little farther grazing. Last night, they went too far and were unable to get themselves back to the barn for milking. Since they are not anywhere near full production, it wasn't a problem and it did not hurt them to skip a milking. I felt that it would be cruel to force them back to the barn so I let them lay out in the tall grass. This morning, they limped back over and were happy to come in. 

Tonight, they were still a good distance from the barn but managed to make it back on their own in time to be milked. Afterwards, I filled the feed bunk with alfalfa hay and they ate with gusto. They may not be much better physically but their attitudes and appetites are much improved!


  1. What caused their sore feet?
    (the education of this former city girl continues.)

  2. Commercial dairies make for very competitive barns. They are usually total confinement sytems.....which means the cows stand on concrete most of the time. They do bed them down with sand to make it easier on the cows but clean up on a concrete floor is just easier. Even if the cows do have some grazing time out on pasture, their feed bunks are on concrete. It is very hard to keep the place dry with that many large animals. So a combination of wet, scuffing on concrete, and competing with bigger cows often leads to injury or foot rot. Animals with sore feet don't want to move any more than they have to. They also do not feel like competing for their space at the feed bunk...... they lose weight and begin to go down hill in a hurry. It doesn't take very long at all for them to be in very serious condition because they are still trying to make milk and using alot of energy that they are not replacing. Poor Bambi was probably only a few days from being dead.
    Some breeds and family lines in cattle are more "soft footed" and prone to foot rot. Dairies actively cull these animals.

    This morning, they are both much improved. Just getting their feet dried out, groceries and a single shot of antibiotics can make a world of difference.

    I want you to understand that the dairy I got these from is not cruel or uncaring. They just have to do what they have to do to make a living in modern agriculture. Instead of just disposing of these girls, they call me or other people who have the time, space and soft hearts to try to rehab them. They sell them cheaply or give them to me-- depending on how serious it is.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to explain! To be honest, it didn't occur to me that the dairy was uncaring - because they did care enough to get the cows to you to care for them. To me, recognizing that an animal needs different care than what one can give it is a sign of caring in and of itself.