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I called the local Large Animal Vet today to introduce myself and find out what the emergency protocol is for contacting them, if Nellie has trouble calving. They were very helpful, and spent a lot longer on the phone with me then I ever expected. It was wonderful, and not only was I encouraged by their suggestions, but I feel confident that if things don’t go well, I have someone nearby who can come out and help.
It’s unlikely we will need any help. Irish Dexter Cattle are known for easy calving. The vet told me the chances were very good that we would just wake up one morning, and go out to find a calf just hanging out with her. I hope it’s that easy for her, but I also kind of hope to see the process, at least a little. Time will tell, but either way there will be PLENTY of pictures on this blog of that wobbly legged little calf when it does arrive.
She is due the first week in May, which seems so far off, yet right around the corner. I will be reading a lot between now and then…
I also had a lovely chat with the woman who owns Nellie’s Mother and Grandmother. She was so excited to hear about how Nellie was doing and that she was due to have her first calf. It was so lovely to talk with her. She shared all kinds of great information about how she handles milking her cows. She lets the calves stay with the mom the whole time. She milks the mom in the morning, with the calf tethered to the mother. She said that gets the calf used to being tethered, and it keeps the cow from getting stressed. She milks 2 utters while the calf nurses the other 2, most of the time. She said she gets about 2-3 quarts that way, and then does the same in the evening, when she’ll get 1-2 quarts. She find that a gallon a day for her and the rest for the calf works well. When the calf is bigger, about 2 months old, she will notice that the calf is dipping into her supply, so at that point, the calf is older, everyone is more comfortable with milking, and nursing, so she’ll put the calf in it’s own stall overnight, milk her well in the morning, and let them run together all day. She still milks what she can in the evening, once she puts the calf in it’s stall.
Nellie’s Mom and Grandmother are both good milkers. Gentle and agreeable. She said that what we are doing to prepare Nellie is perfect. We are rubbing her down and rubbing her belly and massaging her utter/nipples each day. She takes to all that just fine, so it seems she has a milker’s temperament. Hopefully the transition to actually milking will be smooth.
She did say that her line does lean towards the meat, more than the dairy, and that they milk well for about 7 months. She said that each cow is different, so we’ll have to see with Nellie, but she likes to rebreed her cows on their 2nd heat cycle after they calve. So that would be when the calf is about 4 months old. I so appreciated all her information and and her willingness to share. We may do things differently, but it was so lovely to hear what her rhythm has been. I’m super excited!