Baby Factory

Sienna stands ready to return to the pasture after being milked.

Since Sienna has come to live at our farm, she has had four calves. Before then, she had two calves. She has also helped raise three other adopted calves for me. Ever since she was of age, she has either been pregnant or nursing or both. Such is the life of a milk cow.

Sienna, who will be 10 in November, is actually getting up in years, and I’m not sure how much longer she will continue to calve. My vet said she’s in fine health, has good teeth, and should give me at least two or three more calves. So it’s anyone’s guess what her final calf count will be.  

For the first time, Sienna had trouble breeding back after she calved in September. It took multiple exposures to the bull before she finally got bred in March.

Last week, when the vet palpated Sienna, he reported she was about 70 days along. That was a relief. I’m not sure why it took her so long to breed back, but it probably had something to do with trying to breed her in winter. Perhaps she wasn’t quite getting her nutritional needs met for pregnancy. So, I started giving her high-protein feed again daily and giving her extra supplements. When the grass started growing again, I think that helped, too. 

If Sienna’s pattern stays true, I should expect a heifer in December. Her first calf for me was a heifer, Marabelle. Then she had a bull, Seven-Up. Then she had a heifer again, Clarabelle. And last year, back to a bull, Curdle. Of course, the gender of the calf is actually up to the bull, so I suppose this pattern is completely coincidental. Still, it’s interesting. 

I would say raising seven calves for me in the four years I’ve had Sienna is pretty good. And it will be five years with eight calves by the end of the year. I’ve sold three of those calves already, and plan to sell at least two others when they are big enough. 

Along with raising calves, Sienna has also provided milk to my family and others. If we weren’t drinking her milk, I could have used her as a nurse cow and brought up even more calves. However, I tend to think Sienna’s done her fair share in the baby business.

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