Monday, June 10, 2013

G Is For Growing

I'm taking you on a journey from A to Z through the land of dairy! 
There's no need to pack your bags, just come along!
  G is for Growing.
My in-laws started Bremer farms with only three cows. We currently milk about 125 cows. We have come a long way! All of our girl (heifer) calves are raised to become a part of our milking herd. Let's talk about what happens before they get to the milking barn.

A newborn calf weighs about 90 pounds and can stand and walk, all within minutes of being born. The newborn calf is fed colostrum, which is the first milk from a cow. It receives colostrum within hours of birth to receive antibodies from its mom, which protect the calf against disease in its early life. Our calves are housed in individual pens and fed milk twice daily until they are about 2 months old.

At this time the calves are moved to group pens and no longer drink milk, just lots of water, grain and hay. Size and age are used to determine when heifers should be bred. Typically this is when they are 12-15 months old. She will be
pregnant for 9 months. A cow gives birth to her first calf at about 2 years.

Cows usually have 1 calf per year and usually one calf at a time, but they can have twins or even triplets. When a dairy cow gives birth, it is called calving or freshening. A cow must give birth to produce milk. If this is not the first time a cow is giving birth, she will already be a milk cow. If so, two months before a cow gives birth, she takes a rest from milking to grow her calf. At this time, she is called a dry cow. 

No matter what stage of life our "girls" are in, their care and comfort is our number one priority; after all they are the future of our herd!

Source- University of Minnesota, Google image search

Learn more about dairy at Dairy Makes Sense
I am making a commitment to share as much as I can with you each day this month, about the life of our dairy farm family including what we do, how we share our passion for dairy, and dairy foods we enjoy.

 See you here tomorrow...H is for Holstein.

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