Eclipse our adorable little heifer calf measured 24" at 1 day old. It is amazing how tiny these cows are at birth. More pictures will be coming soon!
Born at 11:15 this evening. Even though she is on day early from the full moon and the lunar eclipse, we decided to name her Eclipse. Welcome to our ranch little one!
Daisy is due March 25, the same day my first grandchild is due. Daisy is showing signs of calving, her udder is beginning to swell with milk and her vulva is loosening up. Tomorrow is the full moon and we are going to also have a Lunar Eclipse.... exciting days ahead for us for sure!
Ever since we got our first milk cow Camilla we have been using what is commonly called a calf share. Calf sharing simply put means that you share the milk with the calf, allowing the calf to nurse from her dam after you take your share.
We found what worked best for us is to put the calf up in a pen adjacent to the dam overnight and then in the morning milk out the dam and then after you are finished you let the calf out to nurse and be with her dam all day. We only milked once a day.
If I know I won't or can't milk the dam on a particular day I will just leave the calf with the dam overnight and let them both out in the morning.
Doing it this way gives us more than enough milk for our home, however cream can be at a premium. Why? Because most cows will hold up on the cream and save it for her calf. If you cow does this and you really must have all the cream then your best bet is to just pull the calf and bottle feed it. Doing it this way means you will have to milk out the cow twice a day instead of just once.
I really liked this method because I never had to worry about getting the cow completely milked out, which can be an issue that results in mastitis... a nasty thing for your cow to have. The calf does this milk out for you, naturally.
This is also a great way to train your calf to accept a halter and a lead rope. When you are finished milking, simply place the halter on the calf before you let it out to eat and then take the halter off when you put the calf in it's pen overnight. Never let the calf out of the pen without the halter on. This works amazingly well. With the lead rope you can then lead her out, after she is finished nursing, behind her dam into the pasture or another pen. If you are going to put her into a pasture, where you can't keep an eye on her then you should take off the halter when you put her out and then before you bring her back in put it on her and then take it off again when she goes into her pen. You will have to fight her to do this at first but it will not take long before she understands the routine and stands there waiting for you to put that halter on her so she can eat.
Always make sure no matter how old the calf is that you have fresh water and clean food for them to eat while they are separated from their dam.
Daisy is due on March 25 for her second calf. She started showing signs of calving last night and today I put her out on the back pasture. Spring came early so there is plenty of fresh new grass for her to graze on. We are very excited to welcome this little one to our ranch.
Right now I need to go and clean her pen and put out fresh bedding, just in case!
Our ultimate dream is to be able to offer a beautiful mid sized mini cow that is naturally polled with A2/A2 milk.
Naturally polled simply means that the cows will not have horns. Cows naturally do have horns but these days most people simply prefer that they don't. So far all the cows we have on our ranch carry at least one polled gene. For more information on what it means to be polled click here.
A2/A2 is a somewhat new thing that measures the beta-casein in a cows milk. It is considered safe and nutritious and has no known negative effects on human health. Sometime in the past few thousand years, a natural mutation occurred in some European dairy herds that changed the beta-casein they produced. The gene encoding beta-casein was switched from proline to histidine. This new kind of beta-casein that was created is known as A1 beta-casein, and is generally more common in many of the big black-and-white cow breeds of European descent such as the Holstein and Friesian. Due to their size, milk production, and demeanor, these breeds of cow are used to produce the vast majority of Northern Europe and America’s milk.
Each cow carries two copies of the gene encoding beta-casein, with a genotype of A1/A1, A1/A2, or A2/A2. Neither the A1 nor A2 trait appears to be dominant, which means that the milk produced by an A1/A2 cow will likely contain equal proportions of A1 and A2 beta-casein. A1/A1 cows will obviously only produce A1 beta-casein, just as A2/A2 cows will only produce A2 beta-casein. Northern European black-and-white breeds such as Friesian Holstein usually carry A1 and A2 alleles in equal proportion. Jersey cows and other Southern European breeds probably have about 1/3 A1 and 2/3 A2 genetics. Guernsey cows generally have about 10% A1 and 90% A2 genetics.
The cause for concern with milk containing A1 beta-casein is that the 67th amino acid switch from proline to histidine readily allows a digestive enzyme to cut out a 7 amino acid segment of the protein immediately adjacent to that histidine. When proline is present in that location (as it is in A2 beta-casein), that same segment is either not separated at all or the separation occurs at a very low rate. The 7 amino acid segment that is separated from A1 beta casein is known as beta-casomorphin-7, often abbreviated as BCM-7.
BCM-7 is the real “devil” in A1 milk for a number of reasons. It is an exogenous (doesn’t naturally occur within the human body) opioid that interacts with the human digestive system, internal organs, and brainstem. While no direct causal relationships have been demonstrated between BCM-7 and these diseases due to a wide range of contributing factors for each illness, BCM-7 has been linked to type 1 diabetes, heart disease, autism, and other serious non-communicable diseases as well.
It takes roughly two and a half years for a newborn calf to grow up, have a calf of its own, and begin producing milk, so having a completely A2/A2 herd occurs over a multiple-year time frame. Assuming the average cow is already 50% A2, but this is our goal.
For more information on A2/A2 click here.