Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Raising baby calves and the future of Herr Dairy Farm

**I was really excited when my friend Abbie from Indiana agreed to write this blog post for me. She is responsible for taking care of the calves and heifers on her husband Steve’s family dairy farm in Kendallville, Indiana. She is also a new mom to the very adorable Alexis. Without further ado, here’s Abbie!**

Abbie and her husband Steve
 By Abbie Herr, Indiana dairy farmer

I have been "momma" to my baby calves for about 3 years. I have learned it is a rewarding and difficult position to have. When we have a newborn calf,  we remove it from the calving pen. This is not only safest for the baby but also the mama cow. We can monitor both very closely. The newborn is then processed and by that I mean given vaccines to help keep it healthy throughout its life. It then receives colostrum, which is the first milk from a new mama cow. This will help give its immune system a boost to keep it healthy.

Our heifer calves will receive a metal i.d. which will help us identify her and who her mama was ( this is much like getting your ear pierced, it will not hurt the baby). The final and most important part of the process is putting iodine on the umbilical cord. This helps kill bacteria and keep it out so they don't risk infection.  
These little cuties are like curious little kids
After 24 hours, they receive two more vaccines. They will receive many throughout their lives. We only give what will benefit them in the long run and we have reviewed all of the vaccines with our vet. He has created a vaccine plan that benefits our cows and calves. It does not affect any of the quality of our animals and is very beneficial.
All cozy in the straw
Our babies then move to individual hutches (little cow houses) where they are on a diet of milk, water and a corn,pellet, molasses grain. We start them off slow on milk and grain. The reason being that we don't want to cause upset tummies, diarrhea or any other thing that may affect them. They are gradually increased throughout the first 2 weeks of being up there until they are on full feed, which is a gallon of milk twice a day. 
Calves get coats in the winter!

They usually stay in their hutches for 8-10 weeks. They not only receive food but also fresh bedding 1-2 times a week. We use straw to keep their bedding dry and warm. If they get too warm they have the option of laying outside.
They will then move to different pens as they get older and their diets will change in each pen they enter. They will go from a grain fed diet to a grain and hay diet and eventually to a corn silage diet which they will receive the rest of their lives!  
When we have animals that are sick we give them medicine because much like humans they need medicine to make them feel better. For the most part if we can diagnose what is wrong with them we can give them the proper medication to make them feel better. When we get stumped or have questions our vet is there anytime we need him.

I love what I do and would not trade it for anything. I am proud to be raising the future of Herr Dairy Farm Inc.

1 comment:

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