Dolly just gave birth to a dead calf. Our baleage this winter was very bad. It is a type of fermented hay, and last season it was great, the cows loved it, they milked well. We had a bunch of healthy calves, too. This year, we have lost two out of seven calves, and both calves were extremely small. They were full term, I am certain of that, based on the cows' udders, which were very full and ready. Those calves just didn't fully develop in utero. That is from lack of nourishment. No ribs showing on the mamas, they looked healthy, but obviously there was not enough in their systems for the calves, too.
The word I am getting is that it was too wet last summer, and so there was a great quantity of hay, but it was not as nutritious. We have been feeding extra, in fact our baleage bill is exorbitant this year, because it is obvious that it is not satisfying the cows in the amounts they were getting the previous year and so we are feeding much more. Our bull has had gastrointestinal distress twice, once very bad. I learned after the first go round, and when we saw him getting sick again, we pulled him from the big pasture and put him in with the calves where he ate dry hay, not baleage, for about three days. He is fine again, but I cannot wait to get these animals out onto the pastures for that fresh spring grass!
It is so frustrating. One would think a wet summer would be a good thing, but it certainly wasn't. And then to top it off, it got extremely dry earlier than usual, and we had to start feeding hay about a month sooner than we did the year before.
I wish farming was easy, but it is not. It is not some idyllic existence, with little animals gamboling about in sunshine and the sound of tree frogs singing in the wetlands at night. There is some of that, but not enough of it lately. Some days I wish I was a greeter at Walmart.