Monday, April 4, 2011

Drying up the cows

We dried up the cows today, which means they’re going to have a period of rest where we don’t milk them. Because they’re going to have calves! (Cows need to have a calf every year in order to continue producing milk.)

This is how it works – Kris and two employees did the milking this morning and milked the cows like normal. Then they check to see if a cow is pregnant by pushing on the right side of her stomach to feel if there’s a calf in there. This is called ‘bumping’ a cow. There are also ultrasound and other ways to tell, but this is accurate, since the cows are a little over seven months pregnant, and their gestation period is nine months. So that calf is pretty big.

If the cow is pregnant, they give an antibiotic in each teat to prevent infection. Since she’s not going to be milked again until after she has a calf, we don’t want her to get an udder infection like mastitis, which can happen if you abruptly stop milking.

A side note on antibiotics – No cow that has been given antibiotics is ever milked into the bulk tank. We test our outgoing milk on the farm, it’s tested at the plant, and we follow the drug labels telling how long medicine is in their systems. If we give a cow antibiotics while she’s being milked, we milk her into a separate container and dump it until it’s out of her system. These cows won’t be milked again at all until at least one month - after they have calves. Then the first three days of milking is separated out from the bulk tank too, since it’s colostrum.

Then they put a sealant called T-HEXX on her teats. This also prevents bacteria from entering her teats. It’s bright blue.

So they dried up all but 51 cows that are either not pregnant, or not pregnant enough to feel the calf from the outside. The vet is coming next week to check them.

It’s an early day and a late night, but . . . it’s exciting every year! The calves are coming! The calves are coming!

1 comment:

Badrar said...

Very interesting post Carla! Good you included the details about not putting antibiotics into our milk supply!