Thursday, November 07, 2013

They are Worse than Cats

Cows have been in the barn at night for a little bit now. For some reason it is taking some tweaking to get them on a good schedule for fall and winter. Between working around the milk truck...our barn is set up so the milkhouse is in the barnyard and that is where we feed them in the dark seasons...and having gates open when we need them open, it has been hectic.

Heck, it's been frantic. But we will get things worked out sooner or later. The kids bought some gigantic round bales that they are enjoying off the wagons. To give you an idea how big they are, the whole herd had two of them and didn't finish them in two whole days!

They really weren't that interested in being in nights up until last night, which is really odd. Normally they let us know, right about now, when they don't want to go out any more. As soon as the milking machines come off they hit the floor and don't stand up again until we feed night hay.

Instead, they have been standing up looking at the door. However, each tank of milk from each farm has two different tests for cleanliness, a test for antibiotics, plus a test for somatic cell count or SCC. 

We make a constant concerted effort for quality milk. The national cut off for SCC is 400,000. We shoot for less than a quarter of that and most of the time are able to get it.

However, as soon as the weather turns cold, if the cows are outside at night, it begins to creep up. Lying on the cold ground I guess, but no matter how clean you are, it is pretty much impossible to keep it down if they are out in the cold at night. (Day times outside are mostly spent standing up, eating.)

Thus when that count began jumping by 20,000 per pick up increments (I check every day on the computer for our lab work) we knew the handwriting was on the wall.

They had to come in.

I had most of the water bowls cleaned up already. They get built up with hay and dust in the summer if certain cows don't drink indoors...they are only in for an hour or so per milking...and need to be cleaned when they come in. I had been picking away at that job for weeks, doing a couple each day, instead of waiting for a marathon all at once.

Been doing the same with the stall bedding. Every time the calves got a build up of the stemmy hay that they picked out of the tastier stuff, I've been packing it in the front of the stalls so the cows would mash it down into good, thick beds.

Now, when they go out in the morning I just have to run around the mangers and toss the leftovers into the center where their front feet are, and the stalls stay bedded pretty comfortably.

 Last night, as soon as we got the machines off the girls in my row curled their knees, swung their butts, and collapsed into their beds, wherein they commenced to chew the cud like it was their job. 

Must be they knew this rain was coming, because it was easy to see that they were glad to be in.


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

I'm glad I only have one...the beef cows are out until the snow flies. Dairy cow not so much, I couldn't get her to go to the pasture at night, I tried telling her that I "knew" cows in New York that stayed out in much colder weather. But like a teenager she rolled her eyes and planted her feet.

Cathy said...

I know it's a he** of a lot of work . . . but it also sounds so companionable and cozy :)

Terry and Linda said...

Nobody really knows what it takes to be a dairy give a good idea, but the reality is only there with you. Unless you are or have been a dairy farmer know really knows the hard work and timing involved.


threecollie said...

Cathy, and it often is....

Linda, I sometimes wonder what I will do with myself if we ever retire.