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Preemie “Chocolate” Update

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A few weeks ago I addressed the issue that dairy farms occasionally have premature calves.  We were lucky enough to have the cutest premature calf who had a will to live.  My kids named this adorable little guy “Chocolate”.  Since that post, I have had questions about him and his status.  It was a tough day when I realized Chocolate was starting to have problems.  Premature dairy calves face many of the same problems human babies do – Pneumonia.  Their lungs are not fully developed and this presents a huge challenge.  It was hard to watch him struggle and eventually  succumb to the effects of Pneumonia.  He was such an adorable little calf and it is always tough to lose an animal I have spent so much time caring for.

"Chocolate"

“Chocolate”

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I am sooooooo adorable!!

 

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Calf Care – Why it is my passion

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Raising calves on an organic dairy farm in Western Washington is challenging.  We have been certified organic since 2006.  It has been a total reeducation raising calves.  We did a great job raising calves when we were conventional, but we had so many tools at our fingertips to help us care for calves who became sick.  When we transitioned to organic, we quickly realized things were different. We quickly learned that prevention is the “Key”!!  You know that product “Airborne”??  The commercials recommend taking it before a trip on a plane because it will help you to prevent getting sick.  Well, we needed to adopt that similar philosophy but on a daily basis.  The keys to raising healthy organic dairy calves are simple.

1.  Environment – clean and dry bedding and good ventilation

2.  Vaccinations – Vaccinations help to prevent disease so get a good schedule and stick to it!!

3.  Colostrum – The first 2 feedings should be 2 bottles of good quality Colostrum.  No questions, no excuses.

It is pretty simple but like everyone, I get busy and short cut steps.  When this does happen, I quickly begin to experience problems.  But if I get back to these simple steps, I get quickly back on track.  I am so excited to raise my calves in my new calf barn we have been busy building of the last year.  Check out the amazing pictures.  The amazing Calf Tel pens, group pens, flush system, and curtains.  It is going to be a great place to raise organic dairy calves in the future.

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Group Pens – Each pen has 5-6 calves

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20 Calf Tel Pens

The doors we uses to move in and out with tractors.

The curtains move up and down. It allows control of the air flow through the barn.

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The doors roll up and allow our large loader tractors in and out easily.

Show Season

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One of the many blessings of entering the spring season on a dairy is the realization that “show” season is right around the corner.  Luckily in our part of the country, we have several youth fairs and other shows available for dairy kids to participate in.  In our local youth fair, dairy is the largest show with over 95 kids participating.  The joy of helping your son or daughter help lead a young calf becomes part of the daily schedule.  Our family is 6 years into participating in 4-h and I must admit, we have more and more fun every year.  So when I wonder if we are ever going to get the kids ready for the shows as well as get their homework done I remember one important thing. 

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What does $5000 buy??

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Right now, we are in the process of building a new calf barn.  Many times it is easier to just keep doing things on dairy the way they have always been done.  A calf is born, fed milk for 2-3 months, weaned, and then finally enters the milking herd at about 24 months.  It has been happening this way for a long time on our dairy.  But, the time has come to innovate and build a more efficient barn to care for our calves.  We plan to use curtains for ventilation, Calf-Tel for our individual calf pens, group pens of 5 animals, and finally a flush system for cleaning.  We are incorporating many new and efficient features for this new calf barn.  But, at the end of the day it still comes down to the basics:  1 – Clean pens, 2 – Preventing illness, and 3 – Good quality colostrom.

ImageImage$5000 only buys this piece of concrete.  We have a ways to go but it will definitely be worth it.  Stay Tuned!!

Cow Fact for the Day

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On our farm, calves live in clean, dry individual pens called calf hutches where they have ample space to move about freely.  These calf hutches protect them from other members of the herd and our rainy inclement weather.

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Holidays and Cows!!

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One thing every dairy farmer has in common is we work every holiday.  Ask any dairy farmer what their typical workweek is and they will usually respond “I work everyday and usually 60-70 hours a week”.  Even when the schools, post office, banks, and Federal and State offices close for another mandatory holiday, the cows need to be milked and fed.  But just because dairy farmers put in long hours taking care of their cows and farms, they can still have some fun.  Check out this picture of a cute Brown Swiss calf.

Brown Swiss Reindeer

Brown Swiss Reindeer

Originating in the Swiss Alps, Brown Swiss adapt well to high altitudes and hot or cold climates, while producing large volumes of milk, ideal for cheese-making. Their unique ability to yield high components with an ideal fat-to-protein ratio sets them apart from other dairy breeds. Correct feet and legs, well-attached udders and dairy strength contribute to their exceptional productive life, allowing them to thrive in any modern dairy set-up. Style, balance and fancy frames also make Brown Swiss easy winners at county, state, national and international shows.

Christmas with a Holstein

Christmas with a Holstein

Holstein dairy cattle dominate this country’s milk production industry. The reason for their popularity is clear: unexcelled production, greater income over feed costs, unequaled genetic merit, and adaptability to a wide range of environmental conditions. Added up, this means more profit for the dairy producer who milks Holsteins. This point becomes even clearer when you consider that nine of every 10 dairy producers currently milk Holsteins.

As you can see, dairy farmers can have fun during the holidays creating a little Christmas Magic with one of our baby calves.  One must admit they are pretty adorable!!

#foodD #agchat #dairy

 

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