Double Equals Trouble

Sienna licks her calf, Curdle. They are happy to be together again.

I learned a valuable lesson recently in regards to my family milk cow. I should not leave two calves on her full-time. As I wrote about last time, the pair of calves turned out to be double-trouble, leaving Sienna’s back teats cut-up and scabbed. 

For two weeks, I kept both calves separate from my cow, milked her by hand, and then fed that milk to the calves in bottles. It was frustrating to have to do this, but I had to let my cow heal up before allowing the calves to nurse again. 

What I figured I would have to do after Sienna was better was only allow the calves in with her when it was time for them to nurse. That meant every morning and evening, I would have to put them together and then separate them after they ate. I was not looking forward to this, but it would be better than continuing with bottle feeding. 

Breezy nurses off a surrogate mama.

As it turned out, I was able to find a temporary home for Breezy. A friend of the family raises calves on nurse cows, and she allowed me to take one of my trouble-makers over to her house. I kept Curdle, Sienna’s calf, and took the other calf over to meet her new mama. Well, it will be her mama for two more months. Then Breezy will be weaned and come back to our farm. 

Sienna is not completely healed yet, but she looks much better. I put Curdle back with Sienna, and he didn’t waste any time latching back onto his mama. 

When I’m in the part of Sienna’s cycle where she has a calf, it’s supposed to be the easy part. As I described here, my “easy” milking routine is to allow the calf to take all of my milk cow’s production until I need some milk. I then separate the calf overnight, milk out a gallon to keep, and put Sienna back in with the calf. This frees up my time tremendously, so I don’t have to commit to milking every morning and evening. 

However, this cycle, I still have not reached that “easy” part. I tried it while I was gone on vacation and came back to an injured milk cow. And, now, Curdle still is not drinking Sienna’s full load. Each morning, I take what Curdle has left, and it’s usually about a gallon. Thankfully, I only have to milk in the morning. 

I’m trying to be patient with Sienna’s calf though. The poor thing keeps having to adjust. First, he had mama to himself. Then he was separated and put with another calf, only allowed to nurse when I let them out together. Next, I let them both out to run with Sienna. After that, I took them both off and gave them bottles every day. Now, he’s back with his mama full-time and has more milk than he can handle. Soon enough, I’m sure, he’ll adjust and start drinking her dry. Well, that’s what I would expect, but my expectations have left much to be desired lately.

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