It’s been a busy breeding season. Cows and heifers have been frisky, but a few haven’t shown any signs of flirtation. Some haven’t come into heat at all. I wonder – do I need to set them in the mood? Should I print out posters of strong bulls prancing around in the field and put them on the wall of the milking parlour?

Should I consider music? You might say, ‘Try pumping out some Barry White,’ but don’t be silly. Cows need something different. I will start with some classical first, and if Mozart doesn’t work, I might work try some techno or rap. Maybe some Notorious BIG. I think he once said, “Mo Cows, Mo Problems” (a man ahead of his time).

Even when the herd isn’t cooperating, I really enjoy picking out the bulls for AI from the Next Top Bull catalogues. There’s always a few funny bull names thrown in there, like Romeo, or Dreamboat, or Braveheart. Then there’s the sport-icon ones like Messi or Mo Salah or – probably the scariest bull of them all – Cody.

Prancing around

This year, I thought of a few names that AI companies should consider: how about Hugh Heifer, Christy Moo-ore or Bó Derek? I also feel that we should know a bit more about bulls’ personalities in the list of traits we get for each bull.

The two bulls we keep at home are getting impatient. They can’t understand why they haven’t been drafted in yet

I know EBI and milk solids are important, but wouldn’t it be nice to know about more about the bull himself? Does he like scented flowers and prancing in the sunshine, or is he more of a ‘badass’ who knocks trees and makes sheep dogs cry in his spare time? I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

The two bulls we keep at home are getting impatient. They can’t understand why they haven’t been drafted in yet.

The oldest fella is particularly grouchy. He’s been trying to break through the ditch to get at the cows. It almost looks like he’s digging a tunnel, like the one in The Great Escape. Honestly, if he pulls it off, I won’t stop him. The other bull (Dougal) is more relaxed. Almost zen-like. I often see him lying on his back in the sun, as if he’s in a yoga pose. Maybe it’s his way of limbering up or showing off to the heifers across the field.

Norwegian Red

In any case, the bulls will have to wait. We need to get at this AI for another two weeks. I enjoy a bit of variety on the farm, and this year I like the look of a Norwegian Red bull. We are told by the ag experts to consider ‘hybrid vigour’ when breeding – you’re supposed to the get best traits from one breed mixed with another.

Here, the Norwegian Red makes a strong case with decent milk solids combined with the plentiful milk of a Holstein.

I wonder if any young farmers out there – male or female – consider hybrid vigour when they go out into the dating world. I don’t think I did, and we are a mixed family.

Herself is Scottish Protestant and I’m Irish Catholic. Not sure what hybrid vigour we passed on to our kids, but I do notice the youngest putting the toaster in the cupboard a lot.

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