Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Preparing For The Cold On The Dairy

With an upcoming cold spell coming we are trying to get things ready for ourselves and the cows. While it won't be as bad as last year's Polar Vortex, it still isn't anything we are looking forward to.

One of our biggest concerns is that the silo unloaders and the conveyors might freeze. We've purchased some large, high quality hay bales and have them ready to feed in case that happens.

While we do keep our baby calves in the calf barn they will appreciate more straw bedding when the temp's drop. We may also feed them more milk to keep their energy levels up.

Of course the cows are not the only creatures on the farm that need to stay warm. Don't forget the farmers! This week we purchased a new forced air heater to put in the dairy barn to keep us warm while milking and to thaw out any frozen pipes.

Unfortunately this means we'll be replacing our old one that plays the first note of the Star Wars theme when it comes on. Don't believe me? Give it a listen.

Winter weather we are ready as we'll ever be!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hunting For The New Year

Moments before I took this photo Fred contentedly sat on the post warming himself in the sunshine. As I clicked the shutter he dove for a mouse on the ground.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vaccinating Cows

Getting vaccinated is not something reserved for humans. All of our cows and calves also get vaccinated and have their booster shots to make sure their immunity stays current. Keeping our cows healthy is good for them and good for us.

You're Sixteen, You're Beautiful, and You're Vaccinated

cow 16
Sweet Sixteen

Our most recent heifer that calved and entered the milking herd is #16. Previously she was only identified by her ear tag, but now she has a "big" number, also. The big blue number is the one we will now use for her record keeping. We escorted her into the headchute to restrain her for her safety as well as ours.

She received a vaccination to aid in the prevention of diseases caused by infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine virus diarrhea (BVD types 1 & 2), parainfluenza 3 (PI3), and bovine respiratory syncytial (BRSV) viruses, Leptospira pomona, L. hardjo, L. grippotyphosa, L. canicola, and L. icterohaemorrhagiae. That's ten in one dose! My children might wish their pediatrician could be so efficient.

Also, we poured on her back a liquid dewormer that will prevent internal and external parasites. After that she was free to go back to eating and relaxing until the next milking.

Our calves are vaccinated when they are a few months old and wormed when they are ready to go out on pasture. They will receive regular boosters for the rest of their time on the farm.

Now, if only I could convince my wife to get vaccinated for her flu shot this year.....

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cows In Space

I opened the gate and called to the cows in the pasture. It was time for them to come in and eat lunch. Most of them stood up and took a few steps. Thinking they were on their way I proceeded to feed a group of calves that were in a nearby barn.

The cows, however, didn't move. They stood silently. Were they doing some kind of protest? Were they pondering which Christmas special to watch on tv? I noticed their ears and eyes pointed to the heavens and it was obvious what they were doing. Cows, as you know, have an excellent sense of smell and hearing. What they had to be doing was "sensing" one of NASA's new spaceships, Orion, circling the globe.  

The spaceship was unmanned for this trip, but one of the future goals of the new craft is a trip to Mars. Of course, when the astronauts are on board they will definitely need some milk. What are their options? As impractical as it is, the first choice is to take a real cow with them.

Monkeys and rats have made the trip so why not our bovine friends? While one little girl did take a baby calf into her house to snuggle with, a cow in space does bring its own issues. Cows need room to move, lots of food to eat, and let us not forget about waste. Then you have the issue with the milk. Raw milk for the astronauts? No. The last thing you need is a group of astronauts getting sick from an E. coli outbreak or having renal problems.  They would need to pasteurize the milk. More equipment and more work for them. We might not be ready for a cow in space.

As a kid I remember the astronauts drank Tang.

I also remember that it was the yuckiest thing I had ever drunk at the time and if that was what it took to become an astronaut then there was no point in me thinking about becoming one. Thanks but no thanks and pass the milk, please.

Due to it's perishable quality milk might not have an option for early astronauts, but today you definitely have more options for your dairy cravings. Ultra High Temperature pasteurizing allows milk to have a long shelf life. You can find conventional milk as well as organic milk on the shelf like this.
Via milkunleashed.com

Coming soon nationwide is a product called Fairlife Milk which uses a new version of UHT and has a unique twist on milk's inherently good properties by increasing the protein and calcium while lowering the sugar content. Perhaps the biggest impact it will make is that it is lactose free making it a perfect choice for those with inherent lactose allergies. Does it taste delicious? I don't know, but I can't wait to try it.

Cows in space? Maybe not yet. Milk in space? You betcha! All systems are go!