I am many times asked, "How old do cows live to be?". The answer is as long as they want, but typically most dairy cows have ceased to produce milk by the time they are 8 or 9. Remember, an animal doesn't begin producing milk until they've had a calf, at about the age of 2. If they are a good cow, they will have a calf about every 12-14 months, and so if they live to be 8, they typically have had ~5 lactations. Brent's goal is to have over 50% of our herd reach this age. Why do dairy cows not live longer, you might ask? Well, they can. I have seen cows that are 19 or 20 years old, but they are no longer productive cows. The rule at our farm is that a cow needs to produce enough milk to pay her feed bill. If not, she needs to be sold to become beef. This does NOT mean that we don't care about that cow. We strive to give every cow great care, all the time. However, from time to time, a cow becomes ill, lame, or has some other problem that leads her to stop producing milk, and we need to cull her from the herd. This isn't heartless or cruel, it is simply the nature of things. Believe me, I'm not happy when we have to sell a cow, but if we kept cows that didn't produce enough to at least pay their feed bill, the cows would soon find themselves without a home, and we would too, as we would be broke!
Anyway, back to my 3 generations story......
Shortly after we got married, Brent took me to a farm in Wisconsin, the Hoesly farm, where we bought several groups of bred heifers in order to improve & grow our herd. I absolutely loved going to that farm, and listening to the owner, Todd, be able to talk about his cows, and the multiple generations that were still there on his farm. I was so jealous! At the time, we were lucky to have dam & daughter (mom & daughter) to both be in the milking herd at the same time, let alone 3 or 4 generations of a single family. On the way home from our visit to Hoesly's, I told Brent that I had a new goal, to have 3 generations of cows all milking at the same time. I finally got it last year (from cows descended from the Hoesly herd), but I'm even more proud of this group of cows, as they are also some of our top milk producers, and they were all born on our farm! I nearly had this 3 years ago, as Kay (the matriach and mother to Kaydence) & Kaydence were both milking, and Kaliedoscope was due to calve, but we lost Kay tragically to a DA, from which she wasn't able to recover.
The Kay Family consists of:
Kaydence, who has daughters: Kaliedoscope, Kalliope, & Kalypso
Kaliedoscope has calves; Klear & we are keeping her most recent bull (only the 2nd boy to be born to this family), "Shot of Kahlua", to be our future herd bull
Kalliope gave birth to Grand Kayman last spring
& now Klear has Krystal Klear
Kalliope & Kalypso are both due to calve later this summer, so here is hoping that the Kay's at Po-Cop keep growing!