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When Cows are too good at their job....

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Blaithin's Avatar Jun 22, 2020 | 07:51 1 I multi suckle my herd. A little bit more work at first and sometimes a bit more management required but it works for me.

Here is a case of a bit more management needed. I don’t mind calves sharing cows as long as they’re the same age group. The two big fatties here are a little too old to be fair competition though! So off the cow goes to the summer pasture while the other cow and her fatso calves stay at home.


As problems go it’s an easy fix. Reply With Quote
Jun 22, 2020 | 08:45 2 Heavy milkers, eh? We always keep replacement heifers from our own herd. They will hang out with their mothers if in the same calving pasture. We have seen the mother allowing her calf, her grandcalf and sometimes her daughter to nurse! Not good if the colostrum is getting stolen though. Reply With Quote
Blaithin's Avatar Jun 22, 2020 | 08:58 3
Quote Originally Posted by littledoggie View Post
Heavy milkers, eh? We always keep replacement heifers from our own herd. They will hang out with their mothers if in the same calving pasture. We have seen the mother allowing her calf, her grandcalf and sometimes her daughter to nurse! Not good if the colostrum is getting stolen though.
Yes, they’re Fleckvieh from a dairy.

Acorn, the cow in the photo, peaked at 12 gallons her second lactation, when I bought her. I assume she doesn’t do that for me since I’ve just got her on grass but she still produces great gobs of milk.

I’m less forgiving with the older animals nursing. Currently have a yearling that, despite being weaned last September, decided she needed to nurse this spring again. Of course it’s always a replacement heifer, never some fugly steer you don’t want. So now she’s sporting a temporary weaning ring and I’ve got a permanent one on order. But then my cows are already raising multiples, they don’t need some fat arsed yearling sucking them dry too! Reply With Quote
Jun 23, 2020 | 16:49 4 That is a most impressive sight!

Multi-gen sucking is one thing that I do not tolerate. There are a couple of nose pieces on the shelf for that reason. When I saw them the other day, I was happily reminded that I haven't needed them for a few years.

You are getting the absolute most out of every bite of grass that your girls are eating. Certainly more work at the start, but big returns.

Good work - your dedication is outstanding! Reply With Quote
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  • Jun 25, 2020 | 08:13 5 We don't allow multi-generational nursing either. Just an observation that turned into a management practice that keeps the first time calvers on their own calving ground. Should have mentioned that off the top. Reply With Quote
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  • Blaithin's Avatar Jul 4, 2020 | 12:48 6 Kept a bull calf back last year, out of my Milking Shorthorn. Happy enough with how he’s filling out now that he’s on grass. Needs to hit a growth spurt and go up a bit more though.

    Hopefully he does well this year so the Hereford can be phased out. I’m not a Hereford fan in general but Bullcephous has done well for the circumstances. Wouldn’t trust many other breeds to do what he’s done.

    This fellow should help keep milk production up in the herd though. His Mom is a producer and a half. Looks like he’s got his dads stubby legs 😂

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    Jul 7, 2020 | 04:57 7 Looks like he should produce easy-feeding calves. And if the mommas milk like yours do, there should be some good weaning weights.

    Picked this chap up a month ago. Not much air under him either, but he is very powerfully built. A good, quiet worker it turns out, too. :-) Should work well on some of my bigger cows.

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    He replaced a crazed, screaming Limo that got himself ground into cold cuts last winter. He was getting testy for the past year, but when I found him pulverizing a cow in a corner of the loose pen, he took a trip to town. #notafan Reply With Quote
    Blaithin's Avatar Jul 7, 2020 | 09:22 8 He’s a solid fellow!

    I’m slightly worried about the weights this guy will throw. I have nothing against tiny calves if they grow. I’d rather tiny than large. My herf is good at letting the cows dictate the calf size, could I be so lucky twice!

    Have to say, I’m a fan of Limos for the most part, as long as I don’t have to work them. Even the quietest limo seems to get a brainworm if they think you’re going to work them. But life’s too short to put up with a bastard bull, no matter how nice he may be. Or bastard anything for that matter. My slaughter steer decided he needed to beat up the calves this spring. Giant, horned shit, cornering and jabbing little babies. His freezer date got moved up and I must say he’s much more enjoyable on my plate! Reply With Quote
    Jul 9, 2020 | 00:18 9
    Quote Originally Posted by Blaithin View Post
    He’s a solid fellow!

    I’m slightly worried about the weights this guy will throw. I have nothing against tiny calves if they grow. I’d rather tiny than large. My herf is good at letting the cows dictate the calf size, could I be so lucky twice!

    Have to say, I’m a fan of Limos for the most part, as long as I don’t have to work them. Even the quietest limo seems to get a brainworm if they think you’re going to work them. But life’s too short to put up with a bastard bull, no matter how nice he may be. Or bastard anything for that matter. My slaughter steer decided he needed to beat up the calves this spring. Giant, horned shit, cornering and jabbing little babies. His freezer date got moved up and I must say he’s much more enjoyable on my plate!
    Much easier to handle as well after getting wrapped in two pound packages. 😉 Reply With Quote
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  • Blaithin's Avatar Jul 26, 2020 | 11:13 10 Today we are exploring how good his milk mirror is.

    Things learnt so far:

    Don’t ask on Facebook, learn from somewhere else (Knew this already but this is reconfirming it)

    Bulls milk mirrors may be easier to see in winter.

    My memory when it comes to such rarely used information is not what it used to be.

    Glenn has a bulls well developed ability to have a shitty ass. So he’s got that going for him.

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    Jul 31, 2020 | 20:38 11 I just learned a new "evaluation" technique.??

    Never heard of it before.

    Has it worked out for you? Reply With Quote
    Blaithin's Avatar Aug 1, 2020 | 10:38 12 Can’t say I’ve ever used it when purchasing. Any dairy animals I’ve bought I’ve known the production of and with the beef it’s not usually a matter of caring.

    It is something I may pay attention to in the future, but more for curiosity. I can’t say I really look at it in any of my cows to compare it to how they produce or would purchase a heifer on it alone.

    This is the cow in the first photo when she was in early labour this year. Originally I took it to see how much her udder fills during/after calving so it’s about the only photo I have of my cows showing the milk mirror. Although her winter hair makes it look somewhat mangy hah

    To my understanding because it’s fairly wide and equal all the way up, she comes into her peak fast, is a high producer and has lasting power in her lactation, even when bred.

    When I purchased her she was just peaking at 4-5 weeks so fairly quick, and was producing 12 gallons a day, so definitely high. I have no info on her production after being bred however I have carried her through a long lactation. I’d have to check dates to be sure but it was probably 14-15 months.



    I should see what photos I can get now that they’re summer slick and compare them. With the beef girls as well. Reply With Quote
    Aug 1, 2020 | 20:09 13 Whoa, that's a lot of milk for any cow! (Edit - asked a needless question in reply) No wonder she can feed multiple calves.

    Now that I know that, I will be watching it in the future.

    It will be interesting to see if there's any correlation to type/muscling. Milk and muscle don't always coincide... Reply With Quote
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  • Blaithin's Avatar Aug 2, 2020 | 10:10 14 In a Beef context I think it would be interesting to see if their production lowers after breeding.

    I think that’s shown by a narrowing of the estucheon as it goes up to the point that it might not even reach the vulva.

    If a cow has a milk mirror that shows her production drops after breeding, it would be interesting to see what her calves have historically weaned as. Maybe these are the cows that have cracker calves right off the start but as the season goes on they fall behind and just start to blend in with the rest. Reply With Quote
    Blaithin's Avatar Aug 5, 2020 | 18:09 15 What about happy lines?

    Horizontal lines visible along their barrel.

    I’ve never seen them on my cattle but I don’t know if it’s because I just don’t remember to look or if they’ve never been there. Checked the other night and they’re faintly making an appearance on one of the heifers. Have to go check the cows for them.



    Happy lines are apparently fat deposits from a high forage diet. They’re supposed to be a sign of a happy, healthy animal. Reply With Quote
    Aug 6, 2020 | 17:21 16 So straight rows of burrs stuck in their hair likely wouldn't count? Reply With Quote
    Blaithin's Avatar Sep 10, 2020 | 12:23 17 Here's another one of the Fleck's. I got Mango in February, a week before she calved, so this is her first summer off the dairy. She got a bit of grain in the winter when she was accepting her foster calf (Also seemed to have a touch of a deficiency at calving so that helped give her her vitamins!). But no grain since the grass came in, much to her dismay.

    She's currently got two 7 month old calves on her and looks like this. That's not her calf behind her, it's the persistent nurser, still devoted to following that udder Hah I wouldn't really say that my yard has particularly good grazing either, although the rain this year has definitely helped it stay plentiful.

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    Don't have a current photo of the two calves, I should go get one. She's probably got close to 1000-1100 lbs of calf on her. Reply With Quote
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  • Blaithin's Avatar Oct 1, 2020 | 13:35 18 Here’s the two calves. They’re always mid siesta when I go out 🙄

    Heifer on the left, Cow’s own steer in the middle, yearling bull on the right. They look much bigger when laying down so I guess they know what photo angle serves them best!

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    Blaithin's Avatar Oct 1, 2020 | 16:22 19 Here we go. Finally up from their afternoon nap!



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    Oct 2, 2020 | 06:24 20 Angus cow simmental cross calf. Reply With Quote
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  • Blaithin's Avatar Oct 3, 2020 | 09:29 21 Can’t go wrong with a Sim cross calf, newguy!

    Moved the cows to a small pasture yesterday. The annoying place they are at in the summer is all old sheep fence. A city fella bought it a couple years back but he’s unwilling to put much towards fencing so I’ve hobbled the slickwire together as best I can. Unfortunately about the time it gets the driest and the Hotwire doesn’t work great, is when the calves decide no Hotwire will ever keep them in! So they’ve been cruising the back side of the pasture with all the pheasant hunters for a couple weeks. Like a gang of ruffians, only going home to visit the milk bar before they’re off again.

    Was just a short mile walk, not much farther to come home really. But we did cut across the field as there’s still a lot of grain traffic from harvest on the road. Also if we took the road they probably would have just buggered off and come home Hah

    Stella and I fell behind on the road portion of the journey.


    But once we got into the field, her and I became the leaders! Right behind her is my other feedlot calf. Like a typical Limo, you can’t chase her anywhere, she’ll run the other way. But she follows like a dream!


    And we finally made it. The reward at the end of the March.
    Last edited by Blaithin; Oct 4, 2020 at 09:53.
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  • Oct 9, 2020 | 20:06 22 Stella doesn't look like there was any shortage of good feed this summer!

    Those Simmies Sim/crosses are terrific. Reply With Quote
    Blaithin's Avatar Oct 9, 2020 | 21:44 23
    Quote Originally Posted by burnt View Post
    Stella doesn't look like there was any shortage of good feed this summer!

    Those Simmies Sim/crosses are terrific.
    Stella is rather useless.

    She’s my very first cow of my own. A calf born at the feedlot I used to work at that I brought home in the backseat. She’s not very tall so easily looks fat and she had issues breeding. Didn’t calve until she was 4 and that was an induced C section. Vet said she’d never calve on her own, pelvis isn’t open enough.

    Raised her calf, kept her in milk as she didn’t breed back and she raised another calf. Year after that she did get bred so aborted her, she came into milk, made her raise another calf. She wasn’t impressed hah

    Been two years since then and she hasn’t bred back again. She’s obese after summer and gets put on a diet in winter.

    She’s halter broke, can be ridden and has a 3 pad collar so she can pull the calf sled around the yard. Her real skill is she loves getting on the trailer and will happily go anywhere. She’ll lead the herd or load up to get the calves on the trailer for weaning and then stay with them as an adult influence. She’s just my big baby. Reply With Quote
    Blaithin's Avatar Oct 14, 2020 | 10:36 24 Went out to get some photos in the snow this morning.

    They’re all in a group... eating thistles!!!

    Why do they always wait so late to eat thistles. Can’t they get them earlier, before they go to seed 😆

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  • Oct 18, 2020 | 05:33 25
    Quote Originally Posted by Blaithin View Post
    Went out to get some photos in the snow this morning.

    They’re all in a group... eating thistles!!!

    Why do they always wait so late to eat thistles. Can’t they get them earlier, before they go to seed 😆

    Our cows even wait longer to eat thistles .......... like as in never😉

    How do you do it?

    Good job and they still look content Reply With Quote
    Blaithin's Avatar Oct 19, 2020 | 10:52 26 No idea 😆

    They’re also really big into grazing trees. Like to the point they’ll eat leaves before grass. I might have never noticed it before in previous cows because we didn’t have trees haha But this herd will destroy a poplar and enjoy the caragana any chance they get. (Made me do some reading up on tree legumes for forage. Why don’t more people use caragana?!) The Apple trees are a favourite in fall as well.

    If they’re really that odd then the only thing I can link it to is that I have a Jersey x Highland. Her highland side comes out heavily and she will browse almost anything, definitely not just a grazer. Since cows are snoopy beasts, if ones eating something they all have to try it, and soon enough your trees toast! Reply With Quote
    Blaithin's Avatar Oct 19, 2020 | 10:58 27 Here's a clip from a couple years ago. They stripped all leaves within reach much earlier in the year.

    https://youtu.be/L9GaPXv3igk Reply With Quote
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  • Blaithin's Avatar Oct 21, 2020 | 13:07 28 Weaned the two at home. Took them 4 days to realize the silage bale was edible.


    Went to the remote herd to cut ice today. They didn’t care. Guess they aren’t that thirsty, they just feel they should have easier food to access.
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    Oct 23, 2020 | 04:31 29 The thistle-eating thing is something that is quite interesting to observe here.

    I have seen them clean Canada thistle off right to the stem most years. Easy control for seed production, at least. It's pretty cool to watch the calves nibble the flowers off early in the season. They are very, very careful. The cows, not so much.

    They will also munch down hard on the burdock plants, but those danged things just keep on sending out new shoots all growing season long and usually end up producing some burrs.

    Now if only they would develop a taste for the bull thistles - would save a lot of spade work. :-( Reply With Quote
    Blaithin's Avatar Oct 23, 2020 | 21:17 30 I’ve heard of people that will mix the weeds - thistles, burrs, maybe even pigweed - into the animals feed. Like chop them up fine and put in grain or something, to get them to get a taste of them. Apparently it’s supposed to get them to eat the weeds better.

    Not sure if that actually works, but eating weeds definitely seems to be more of a learned response for them. Reply With Quote