Friday, November 11, 2011

Come to Look at the Cows

To say we are tired on a regular basis is an understatement this time of year!  We've been working hard well after normal working hours trying to get everything done.  Last time I blogged, we had 76 milking cows.  In just two short weeks, we are now up to 87! Many of them are heifers, meaning it is the first time they have had a calf, or been milked, and so they require a little extra TLC.  Overall, things have been going very well.  One of our new heifers had twin bull calves that the vet had to come to help deliver (unfortunately the babies didn't live), and as a result, she didn't start off right, so the vet had to come again yesterday morning to do DA (displaced abomasum, a.k.a. "twisted stomach") surgery.  It went well, and she seems to be doing better.
Fortunately for our tired bodies (but, unfortunately, for the future of our herd), nearly all of the new calves have been bulls. In fact, we only have 3 calves in the calf barn right now.  This makes baby calf chores easy, but we'd love to have it full. 
Not only does the day to day cow work keep us busy, but we've also been finishing the odds and ends on the barn.  We put the last stalls in last weekend, Warren & Brent got our new fancy "counterweight" gates installed (pictures to come), and we are finishing putting a rock border around the outside.  Meanwhile, Warren has been busy harvesting.  The soybeans are done, and there are less than 200 acres of corn left to do.

However, we also had a special visitor this week.  We had what is called "Classification" at our farm on Monday morning.  This means that we pay an experienced person from the Holstein Association to come out to our farm and evaluate our cows.  They have a set of criteria for the "ideal" cow, and our cows are given a score based on how closely they meet the ideal criteria.  So, we spent a little extra time over the weekend cleaning the cows up a little bit, and milking at different times so that they cows would be full of milk when our visitor arrived.  It is a good way for us to get a different perspective on our herd - what things we need to improve upon, and helps us make decisions on what bulls to breed our cows to to make these improvements.
Mardi Gras after receiving her score

Our classifier, John, evaluating one of the cows

Kaliedoscope getting her VG score.  She is due any day now!

As usual, we were disappointed with some scores, satisfied with some, and pleasantly surprised with others.  The scores are broken down into categories of Excellent (90+), Very Good (85-89), Good Plus (80-84), Good (75-79), and Fair & Poor.  The highest scored cows in the country are 97, while the highest scored cow on our farm is Lucke @ 90 (look on the right sidebar at the bottom for her picture).  Another one of our Kay's went VG, and Kaydence herself picked up another point.  We would be very happy if all of our cows were Good or Good Plus young cows, that matured into VG (and hopefully, the occassional EX) cows.
Afterwards, I caught a plane to Omaha for a swine conference.  I've just gotten back and caught up, while Warren & Gail left this morning for San Diego for a dairy conference.....It just never ends!
Here's praying we get some heifer calves this weekend!

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