Back on May 31st, two days before I ran the Minneapolis Marathon, blog calf Etta returned to the home farm. Of course I wrote up a quick welcome home post, but I was too preoccupied to say much of anything insightful.
I promised an update on her activities at the farm, but I think I’ve already missed the boat on soon. It will be up before August arrives though.
First, as you probably know, little Etta has grown into a large girl.
At birth, on 9.20.11, she weighed in at about 90 pounds. Today I’d estimate her weight at about 1,200 pounds. She’ll continue to grow for the next year or so, and she will probably reach a mature weight of 1,400 – 1,600 pounds.
As you might imagine, she eats a lot of feed to support her size. She lives in a large pen with other heifers expecting their first calf. They get a TMR (total mixed ration) diet that is made of mostly dry grass hay, with a small amount of corn silage and cornstalks and balanced for vitamins and minerals. When they start producing milk they will need more energy and so get more alfalfa haylage and corn silage and less dry hay in their ration.
Here’s a look at Etta up at the feed bunk.
Eating, drinking, and sleeping as she pleases pretty much fills Etta’s day. Her pen also gets bedded with fresh sawdust everyday and tilled up with a little tractor to keep the compost dry and working.
The only real event that happens before she has a calf is her vaccination schedule. She, along with all our expectant mother cows, get three rounds of vaccines before giving birth. We give these approximately 90, 60, and 30 days before the animal’s due date. We try to choose cool days, and we will push back vaccines if the weather is too hot.
The vaccines cover things like respiratory diseases and pneumonia, disease caused by various clostridium, and even things like salmonella and E. coli. We also give a vaccine that helps a cow transfer antibodies into her colostrum, or first milk, for her calf. These antibodies will help protect the calf from getting scours — basically diarrhea and severe upset stomach.
She’s had the first two rounds and she’ll get her 30 day vaccines in just a few days.
The other thing I forgot to mention is the haircut Etta got when she first arrived back. When animals arrive back we quickly trim down the shaggy hair on their sides and back with an electric trimmer. It helps keep them cooler and cleaner, plus it’s a good chance to look over each animal.
Now it’s just one month to Etta’s due date on August 31, and the main thing we have to do is wait.
What do you guess, is she carrying a bull or heifer calf??