Friday, February 18, 2011

Update on the Guernseys

Well, Pricey is hanging in there.  She is eating voraciously, and I am starting to hold out some hope that it is nutritional, and not the feared neurological disorder, which would be fatal.

Skipper is just about over her bout of mastitis.

Both girls had foot problems, and they are clearing up.  Skipper is getting extra nutrients as well, each girl getting about four pounds of high protein calf starter with lots of molasses every day.  We will ramp it up to ten pounds over the next few weeks.  They get biotin on their feed as well.  It is good for hoof health, and hopefully their feet will stay healed.

Pricey and Skipper are big, raw boned girls, and they just couldn't live on the diet of grass and hay that our cows get.  They lived on a cement floor before they came to our farm, indoors nearly all of the time, and got plenty of grain.  They gave a lot of milk when they lived that way, but feeding grain definitely degrades the nutritional value of the milk.  Conjugated linoleic acids drop by about 80% when a cow is fed grain.  Cows are, after all, ruminants, and it is unnatural to feed grain.

There is something to be said for raising cows the way we do.  They are tough.  And while they never give the copious amounts of milk that "factory" cows do, they give a fair amount on just hay and grass.  And our vet bills are just about nil.  I've spent more on veterinary bills and medicine on these two Guernseys in five months than I have on the rest of the herd in the past three years.  Yup, they are tough.

We are awaiting the births of Lucky's and Smarty Pants's calves. Their births will be cause for celebration.

So much joy and so much sadness here on the farm . . .

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