Sunday, 6 December 2015
Rosie's mum is a Jersey cow who was artificially inseminated (AI) with semen from a Murray Grey bull. The resulting calf from these cross breedings is suitable for breeding, beef for the table or as a future house cow for a small farm like ours. eg Lavender. We are not clear what Rosie will be used for in the long term, but at present she will use up some of our excess milk and we hope that either Daisy or Lavender will foster her.
Lavender needs to learn about being a foster mother and we will watch with interest how she will react to a new calf. We already know that Daisy will eventually accept a new calf if we allow her to take her time, at her own pace. As we have both of our cows running together for ease of paddock rotation, either of the cows is a contender for taking Rosie.
Meanwhile, Rosie is being fed milk from the "Calfeteria".
When a new calf is brought in from another dairy we always quarantine it for the first 24-48hrs depending on the condition the calf is in.
Some calves come from dairies that take the calf from the mother on the second day after the birth. These calves are generally in poorer condition because they have not had the mother's colostrum for long enough to build their immune system properly.
In these cases we quarantine the calf for longer as it usually develops a gut imbalance resulting in Calf Scours, thin yellow watery motions that can easily turn into a serious gut bacteria issue which will spread to other calves in their proximity. The feeding for the first few days with these calves is vastly different to how Rosie is being fed today.
Rosie was born last weekend so she was one week old when we collected her yesterday.
Although she was taken from her mother at one day old (this is normal practice on dairy farms whether we like it or not) the dairy farmer fed her with her mother's colostrum, through a calf feeder, for the first four days of her life.
Consequently, Rosie is in good shape, bright eyed, shiny coat,and with good solid dark manure motions. It's all about the poo! The first thing I look for is the colour of the poo.
However, I must not make the mistake of over feeding her with milk at this stage, so she is getting two feeds per day, morning and night, of two litres of milk at each feed. I need to be careful not to over load her little undeveloped gut, so I am diluting her feed with water at a measure of one and a half litres of milk with half a litre of water to make it up to two litres. To this I am adding a tablespoon of garlic water.
To make garlic water; 2 cloves garlic crushed in a jar and cover with one cup of water. Shake and let it steep all day or overnight.
To each feed add one tablespoon of the garlic water to the milk in the feeder.
You can continue to top up the jar with water and use for approximately another four feeds before adding more garlic and water.
I will continue to observe the colour and texture of her poo and if it remains normal I will gradually dilute her milk less each day until she is drinking full cow's milk, but I continue to add the garlic water.
If her poo becomes runny and pale or yellow in colour I will add yogurt to each of her feeds and dilute it again.
Tonight she will start getting one desert spoon of Dolomite in her milk feeder for the minerals Calcium and especially Magnesium which helps to prevent calf scours. The Dolomite powder will sink to the bottom of the feeder so she will take in only some of it when I swirl my hand around in her feeder or shake it up a bit while she is drinking. So I won't need to add Dolomite again until it is all gone from her feeder, usually two times a week.
There is no need to wash out the feeder every time it is used, but I make a practice of removing it from the calves and hanging in a sheltered place. These feeders are very expensive and ours is now ten years old, but still going strong because I look after it well. We replace the teat though, usually one teat will raise one calf for four months duration before it wears out or the sucking thing inside deteriorates.
The residue milk in the feeder becomes "yogurted" and provided ants don't find it, I believe it is not harmful to the gut of the calf because we add yogurt to their diet anyway when we want to heal their gut and build good bacteria. I make a practice of thoroughly washing the calf feeder (calfeteria) once a week.
As she gets older I will add more milk to her feeder, but for these first weeks I need to stick to feeding her less rather than too much until her stomach develops.
Soon she will start running with the other cows and maybe start suckling from one of them, so that is another reason why I should not over feed her right now.
She is obviously thirsty because she greeted me at the gate and started sucking my fingers. She had her milk feed three hours ago and I won't be feeding her milk until this evening so I led her to her water bucket and gently lowered my hand into the water.
Every two hours today I am repeating this watering process, but after the last water feed she stood and played with the water in the bucket so I think she is realizing where the water is and that it magically goes into her mouth if she sucks at the same time.
The other cows and Blossom have been talking to her through the fence since yesterday and if her poos are still looking healthy tomorrow morning, when I feed her, I will let her run out in the big paddock with the cows all day.
It is so hot outside today and I am hosing the chooks, pigs and checking Rosie every two hours.
Their drinking water is concreted into the ground in the shadiest corner of their yard so they can not tip it over and be at the risk of not having water to drink.
Meg pretends that she is not sleeping on the spare bed as she refused to lift her head for the photo.
"I'm not here. You can't see me"
And Alan is asleep in the passage where we have to step over him whilst going about our day.
Isn't it lovely having new babies on the farm?
How's the weather where you are? What extra measures do you take when the weather is extreme?
For the sake of the animals and my garden I'm wishing for a break in the weather and maybe a drop or two of rain, but that is a fairly unrealistic wish for South Australia at this time of year.
Thanks for visiting. :)