Hi, Maggie Moo back again. I know it’s a lot time since I last blogged but it has been such a fabulous summer, I just didn’t have time. We’ve had wonderful grass to eat and we’ve just come off a field of fresh grass seed (that means that the field was ploughed and grass seed was planted). We have all grown a lot and the farmer reckons we are about 270 kg now. We should be about 330-350 kg in May for breeding purposes. By this time next year, I’ll probably be about 490-500 kg.
The boy calves were separated from us back in early August. The farmers brought us all into the sheds and gave us all some medicine to ensure we don’t get a disease called salmonella. They always argue when separating cattle apparently as humans just aren’t telepathic. It’s daft isn’t it? They are supposed to be the most intelligent of the species and they still can’t tell what each other is thinking. So when one says ‘the black one’, the other doesn’t always know which one he’s referring too and then they sometimes get annoyed with each other. However, they solved this problem. They sprayed all the boy calves with a blue dot on their faces so it was easy to see which were the boys and it was all done in double quick time. Apparently we were all getting a bit frisky and the farmer didn’t want any of us having unexpected babies! I was sad to see Charlie go, we were good friends but we will be in adjoining sheds in the winter so might see him then. My best friends Rua, Florence and Guinevere are still with me. There’s a total of 42 of us in the group now.
We did get a bit of a fright one day. There was a bull in the adjoining field for a while with the older heifers and he broke through the fence into our field (because one of us were on heat). He was 18 months so a year older than us and a lot bigger. We all got a huge surprise to see him coming through the fence. The farmer spotted him pretty quickly when he was herding that day and as he had the dog, Sam, with him, they were able to bring us all into the shed and separate the bull from us. He then put the bull back with the heifers and put them all into another field. We were relieved to see him go. He was a bit boisterous and rowdy.
He’s at the home farm now, locked up in a shed. One day when the farmers were returning home from a school open day, they met him on the avenue! He looked like he was going to headbutt the bonnet of the car so the farmer had to get out and look for a stick and then run at him to get him back to the shed while the other farmer drove the car in case he attacked the farmer. As they were away, Sam was in his kennel so he couldn’t help.
Another day, 74 heifers came into our field (no bull this time, thank goodness). The farmer wasn’t too happy about having to get 74 heifers and 42 heifer calves in and separate us all. One heifer had showed signs of having mastitis on a Sunday morning so all the farmers (children and adults) had brought the 74 heifers in from the Big Field across the road so she could be treated. The female farmer said her eyes were watering seeing so many heifers that are going to calve in the spring! The farmer left all the heifers in Peter’s field at this side of the road so he could check the heifer again but they were bored with that field so decided to break into ours! It was nice to see them all ?and hear all their news. They had been scanned to see if they were pregnant and they’re looking forward to having their babies in February.
We’ve had good fun playing amongst the trees too. There’s a lovely row of trees in the Top Field, which is where we are now and we play catch. Sometimes we have races running in between them. There’s lots of chestnut trees in the next field which is called Peter’s. Some years the farmer’s children come over and collect lots of conkers to play with them.
Our herd EBI scores are really good at the moment. The farmer was delighted to see that we are number 12 in the top 200 with a herd EBI of 206. Now, the top 200 are all really close so it is easy to slip down ten or twenty places in the six months from the last report but on this occasion, we went up by 14. The EBI refers to the Economic Breeding Index and is based on how much milk we give, the quality of the milk, our fertility, our health, how much maintenance we need but for dairy, the main ones are milk and fertility. The average herd in Ireland has an EBI of 125 so we’re really chuffed to be in the top 1%.
My mum’s EBI is 176 and she is the highest in our herd for milk as her milk score is 104. My EBI is 215 at the moment, they predict that I will be 92 for fertility and 76 for milk so it will be interesting to see once I start providing milk and am assessed. Of course, that is still 18 months away. My mum has been dried off now (that means she is having a rest from milking – all the cows will be dried off in a few weeks) because she was the first to calve last year and she will be one of the first to calve in 2015. Plus, she is a first time milker and has milked well all year so the farmer wanted her to have a good rest.
Guinevere is still the best calf in the herd, her EBI has gone a bit as her dad’s EBI went down. Her EBI is 283 which is a lot higher than mine! Her mother’s EBI is 302. She is giving over 5 gallons of milk at the moment.
We will be staying out at grass for another couple of weeks and then we go into nice warm sheds for the winter. We’ll be eating silage, which is preserved grass. It won’t be as nice as fresh grass but we’ll still grow well eating it. We will sleep in cubicles which means that we’re up on a slightly raised platform, separated from each other by tall iron bars so no one crowds another calf.
That’s all for now – I’ll let you know how we get on during the winter.
Yours, Maggie Moo, Irish blogging calf.