The milk is really flowing now, Elsie just had a bull calf!
Elsie is our first family milk cow from two seasons ago. She calved one week after Faith, our second family cow, so we have two jerseys with calves!
The best part about this birth is that Andrew caught it on video!
The day before, we noticed all the signs that she was going to go into labor… her hiney was swollen and giggly, she had clear fluid coming out of her hiney and her utters were so big they looked like they were ready to explode. Usually, our cows have their babies in the early morning or at night in the woods and we never catch the birth. This time was different, Elsie went into labor under a tree in plain sight from our house and in the early evening!
If you don’t want to see Elsie’s birth, don’t watch this video. But, I bet your curious, so I’ll be sweet to you and share this moment on our farm.
Click the below triangle to watch the YouTube video.
So we have a problem, we have two cows in milk and they have two calfs. We have tried all the tricks in the book to keep calves with their mother and still have enough milk for our needs. But, it never works and this year is no exception. They’re too smart. They’ll let down at milk time, but then they tense up and stop letting down after about 4 minutes and won’t let another drop out! It give us about 8 lbs of milk (almost one gallon) and a hair line of cream. This is not good. It’s way to much effort to get all the equipment out, bring the cow up, milk, take the cow back, strain the milk, clean up the equipment for just a hair line of cream. That makes you tired just reading that, doesn’t it! 🙂
We know how much these cows give a day in cream and they’re holding it all in for the calfs. We milk our cows for the cream! The skim milk is just a bonus and we use it for hard & soft cheese and yogurt, but we really put in the effort for the cream! We’re after butter, ice cream, creme frache, sour cream, coffee cream etc. etc. etc…. we want cream!
With Elsie’s first calf, two years ago, we ended up seperating her from her baby and I bottle fed her baby three times a day with fresh milk. The calf took 1.5 gallons total every day. Elsie was giving us about 4.5 gallons of milk. So we had plenty and the calf also had plenty. Win- Win.
Last year when Faith calved, we kept the calf for a few weeks and then she went to a new home. So we didn’t have to bottle feed a calf. This year, is different. We have two Jerseys and they have two calfs.
Elsie is a devoted mother. She barley ever lets her calf out of her sight and always knows where it is. She produces enough milk to feed up to four calves. On the other hand, Faith really is not the best mother. She lets other cows take care of her baby and will go half the day not knowing where her calf is. She’s doesn’t doat on her calf like Elsie does.
This weekend we’re going to try to get Elsie to adopt Faith’s calf. We’ll put Elsie and the two calves in a pen together. And put Faith in our opposite field as far as we can away from the babies. It’s no fun to seperate Moma cows from their babies, they call out to them and it’s painful to see, but we have to do it. Afterall, that’s why we have them… so we can share their milk!
We’ll probably have to put Elsie in a halter and tie her to the fence to give Faith’s calf a chance. Hopefully, all will go well and we’ll milk Faith and keep all her milk and Elsie will take care of two calfs. We’ll see how it goes 🙂 It’s going to be tricky tricky!!!!
We need to name our two new bulls, do you have any ideas?
Elsie and her new bull calf, minutes old.
Elsie (on the left, she’s brown) and her bull calf, 10 minutes old with Faith (on the right, she’s black) with her bull calf, born one week earlier.