The second week of dairy practical work went much more smoothly than the first. Owner was away on his pre-vacation vacation and didn’t return until Friday, so we didn’t have to deal with any of his “projects”. Instead we worked on more lame cows and dried off about 10 cows that Farmer had saved for us to work on.
Dry Cow Therapy involves squirting (that is the technical term I assure you) an antibiotic paste directly into the udder so that any bacteria that are hiding out there are killed off before the next season. We followed this video pretty closely, except that we milked the cows out first and did the therapy in the milking parlour. Also, instead of a teat dip we used a teat spray which accomplishes the same thing with a different method.
We also met a relief milker (M) who has been milking on that farm since he was 14 years old (he just turned 17 last weekend). The previous owner hired him at that age and had him milking by himself. He also charged him to sleep in a Winnebago type deal behind the house. Utterly ridiculous if you ask me. M was a good kid though, hard working and knowledgeable and really good with the cows. I would probably let him date my niece, maybe. He was fun to tease and banter with when he finally came out of his shell. Farmer gave him no end of ribbing (builds character), but he took it well and even gave back as good as he got every so often.
We started tagging cows (spray paint on the legs) to indicate which ones had long feet and needed to be drafted off to be worked on. A few were so bad that they were actually unbalanced. A few were also lame. One, number 75, had foot rot. I have pictures for you at the end of this because I’m too tired and/or lazy to bother putting them in with the words. We trimmed their feet as best we could and made sure that they had nice looking feet before we sent them back to the herd. One cow had a horn that was growing toward her skull, so we trimmed that off to keep it from damaging her. Most of the cows were very nice, but some were pretty “stroppy” as Farmer liked to say. They didn’t like being near people and didn’t like being in the crush. Number 75 (and a few others) actually came up for head scratches. This can be dangerous because the “nice” ones don’t fear humans and so have the potential to run a human over if they are afraid of something else or get angry for any reason. It is still nice to be able to scratch them and feel a bit of connection.
With the help of M, we finished the fence in the paddock across the road and so the cows got to enjoy a very nice paddock full of lush grass. I have now seen an entire herd of Happy Cows. They actually trotted around with food in their mouths looking very pleased with themselves. It is a sight to behold. Unfortunately they were only that excited because it had been so long since they had had a nice lush paddock. The drought has been awful for them.
On Friday, Farmer took M, my classmate, and me out for lunch as a thank you for giving him the week to sleep in and not milk. The food was pretty good and it was nice to get away from the farm for a bit.
Overall, I really enjoyed working on the farm. Even with the shortcomings that are perpetuated by the stubborn Owner it was a great deal of fun and I am definitely suited to farm life. I am looking forward to two more weeks next semester when we get to feed calves as well as milk.
Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure:
Cows being milked
Cows waiting to be milked
The After pic seems to be ahead of the before pic…not sure how that happened
before having her horn trimmed (she did NOT like being there)
It was very dark in the mornings
Leg tagged because those are some LONG feet
What the cows look like in the crush on the farm that I worked at
Foot with some minor trimming off of the toe
After a good cleanup
Number 75 was a doll
The view was pretty nice…I will definitely miss the view