Archive for August, 2011

What’s the Big Hold-Up?!

August 27th, 2011 by Kim

BoPeep inherited a nice udder from her Jersey momma.

There’s been a hold-up in my milking parlor & I’m sick of it!

This is one of the difficulties that comes with share-milking (that’s when you leave the calf with momma part of the time, so you’re sharing the milk).  Momma decides that she would rather feed baby than give her milk to you, so she “holds up” when you try to milk.  Which means you get a piddlin’ little bit of thin milk and are wondering what happened, while baby guzzles down the bulk of the milk…and all the cream, which comes at the end.  If this is a frustration you’ve been dealing with, believe me….you are not alone!!  Here’s the story of my big hold-up. (more…)

Tats & Tails, Part 2: The Art of Tattooing a Calf

August 13th, 2011 by Kim

Our box of tattooing supplies: pliers, ink and number & letter sets.

So, last week I wrote about pulling tails and now this is about sticking ears with lots of little needles.  Seems awfully mean, doesn’t it?  But the calves seem to be such tolerant, forgiving little souls….thank goodness!  The ADCA requires either a tattoo or an ear tag for identification purposes on all registered animals.  I don’t like the look of ear tags, and they do occasionally get ripped out, tearing a big gash through the ear.  So we’ve chosen to do tattoos on our calves.

I clean Trixie’s ear thoroughly with a disinfectant teat wipe.

Tattoo Protocol

There is a “normal”, accepted system for tattooing cattle, which the ADCA recommends using.  There are different size tattoo pliers that take varying numbers of characters, so you can decide what specifically works best for you.  Your tattoo number should start with a letter(s) that is an initial for your farm name or herd prefix.  Next comes the calf’s number, as in whether it was the 2nd, 5th, or 10th calf born on your farm that year.  Last is the year’s code letter…yes, there’s a chart showing what letter of the alphabet is assigned to each year.  This year, 2011, is “Y”. (more…)

Tats & Tails, Part 1: Collecting a DNA Hair Sample

August 7th, 2011 by Kim

Washing tails in a bucket of soapy water.

This spring’s Dexter calves are growing beautifully & it’s now time to take care of some registration details.  We had to get the heifers’ ears tattooed for ID as required by the ADCA, and also pull tail hair to send in for some DNA testing.  Yesterday was the big day for the girls, so they were haltered & brought into the barn stall.  We started with the DNA samples, since after tattooing everybody is an inky mess.  If you’ve never done any DNA testing & aren’t sure what’s involved, read on.  It’s not complicated, and can give you some important information about your cows.

A clear water rinse for Ebby’s tail.

What & Why We’re Testing

Trixie is a red heifer out of a red sire & a black dam.  To register a calf as red, either both parents must be red or at least one must be tested & proven to not carry dun.  Since neither of those is the case, Trixie must be tested to prove she is red.  I’m also testing her for dun, to see if she also inherited Ladybell’s dun gene or not.  I’m color testing Ebony as well…just because I like to know what color genes we’ve got to work with.  She is black, and I know she’ll have a red gene from Rousseau, so it’s just a question of whether it’s an E+ or e, and whether or not she got Kiera’s dun gene.  This way I’ll know what possible color calves I’ll be able to get out of these girls when they grow up. (more…)