The back is broken on the spring work here in Woodside. Cows are now being milked twice per day. All cows have gone to grass day and night as they calved.
Grazing is also going well. Cow health has been good.
We had one cow with grass tetany one morning before milking. It was a morning that was bitterly cold which creates ideal conditions for grass tetany. The poor girl went down in the collecting yard.
My husband Tim came upon her immediately and treated her quickly. My role was holding the bottle while Tim got the needle into the cow. Stephen, the student working with us, was at her head to keep her from moving. Cows are big and capable of causing injury in situations like this.
In our family we are used to each other in these situations
It is good to have a few people around, even if it’s only to hold and turn the bottle on command.
In our family we are used to each other in these situations. We know to keep quiet, but in my experience students don’t necessarily have the same experience and talk a bit too much. If you think about it, nobody teaches a student to use words sparingly during a crisis while the farmer is trying to work out the best possible treatment for the cow in trouble.
She might have to be moved and that operation has to be planned. I’ve always found that it’s best to wait for whoever is the main driver of the intervention at the given time to give direction.
She recovered quickly. She had two things in her favour, she was a young cow and had early intervention for her condition
Those kinds of incidents where cow health needs urgent attention puts hours onto the day’s work because it takes time to make the cow comfortable and on the road to recovery.
Tim called our vet Cathal, from Blarney Vets for advice and to discuss if Cathal needed to call to the cow. As he was on the phone the cow got up so Cathal said there was nothing more he could do for her.
She recovered quickly. She had two things in her favour, she was a young cow and had early intervention for her condition.
To date, I’ve had an amazing run in the calf shed and I hope it will continue. We lost one calf that was born prematurely. The pressure is on to keep it at that. Calves can get sick for many reasons.
The key ones I believe are: not vaccinated, poor hygiene, damp atmosphere, inadequate and untimely colostrum intake and fluctuations in feeding time.
Calves need to be dry, warm and in routine. When a scour outbreak occurs even in a few calves, you can generally point your finger at the source of infection quite quickly. While sources might be ever present, calves won’t usually get sick unless they are stressed in other ways.
Rag week was important, going out is essential, matches can’t be missed
If you keep on top of the jobs and remain consistent, every calf should continue thriving. It took me a while to get into my stride this year. I don’t know why. I assume it was down to working with two new part-time students. They have understandably a different mind-set to me.
Rag week was important, going out is essential, matches can’t be missed. I have only one goal and that is to produce the best possible heifer replacements for the herd. So there are mornings or evenings when I’m on my own.
Men may not see the same issues because of their physical strength
For me, that’s when the system must be functional. Gates and latches must be easy to open. An effective trolley for lifting bags is a real asset. Wheels on gates help too. We’ve been building up the labour saving devices over the years to make the system streamlined. It means we get through the work quickly, having time to spend on observation and real calf care. A safe and functional work environment is really important. In my view, we are not made for lifting and climbing gates and should not be expected to do it.
All of the replacement heifers have been born in February
Men may not see the same issues because of their physical strength. So ask for the wheel on the gate or the trolley or the latch to be fixed, or fix it yourself in good time.
All of the replacement heifers have been born in February. The first batch are dehorned and ready to go to Billy O’Shea, the heifer rearer in Kildare. They are on once/day milk replacer. We mix it in a barrel with a rechargeable drill and feed it out with a pump and a hose that is metered. It is a simple and effective system. I can safely say my systems are finally humming.