Hello, My Name Is…

Hello My Name Is... How we name cows on our farm (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/04/23/hello-my-name-is/)


Did you know that every cow on our farm has a name?

This is my calf, True-North Shan Poppy-RED PO, or “Poppy” for short.

Poppy: Hello My Name Is... How we name cows on our farm (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/04/23/hello-my-name-is/)

Each of our cows is “registered” with a breed association. Their identification, genealogy, owners, and genetic information is recorded and a certificate of registration is given to us. Just like all of our cows, Poppy was given a unique name when she was registered. Here is a picture of Poppy’s registration paper:

Poppy's Registration Paper: Hello My Name Is...How we name cows on our farm (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/04/23/hello-my-name-is/)

So how do we decide on our cows’ names, and why are they so long?

Every cows’ name starts with something called a “prefix”. Most farms have their own registered prefix that they use when registering all of their cattle. My family farm’s prefix is Richmond-FD  (it stands for Richmond Farms Dairy) and almost all of our cows have names beginning with that. A few years ago I applied for my own personal prefix to use for my cows. My prefix is True-North, and only cows where I am listed as the original owner (called the breeder) can have a name that starts with it. Prefixes are quite neat because it helps you instantly recognize who the breeder of the cow was. Some prefixes, like Regancrest, Budjon, Hanover Hill, and Round Oak have become legendary.

So now we know why Poppy’s name starts with True-North, what about the next part? Well, we usually try to incorporate parts of both the sire’s (father’s) and dam’s (mother’s) name into the offspring’s name. Since Poppy’s sire’s name is Alampco Shanosber I put Shan in Poppy’s name as a nod to her sire.  

Poppy's sire: Hello My Name Is...How we name cows on our farm https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/04/23/hello-my-name-is/)
Poppy’s sire (dad): Alampco Shanosber (from the Alampco website)

The “Poppy” part of Poppy’s name took some consideration. We often choose a theme to name each cow family tree after. Poppy’s family theme is flowers. Her dam (mother) is named Jonquil, her grand-dam (grandmother) was named Sunflower, and her great-grand-dam (great-grandmother) was named Daisy. I decided on “Poppy” because, not only is it one of my favorite flowers, but since Poppy has red spots, I thought a red flower name would be perfect for that.

The last part of Poppy’s name, the RED and PO, are suffixes added by the breed association. RED indicates that Poppy is a special kind of Holstein known as “Red & White” and has red spots instead of black. The PO is an abbreviation for “polled”. Polled means that an animal is naturally without horns, and will never grow them.

True-North Shan Poppy-RED PO.

Now you know how we name the cows on our farm. Their care is important to us, even down to the little detail of naming!


-The Farming Daughter

P.S. I apologize to all of you who received the email notification several days ago before the post was finished. I accidentally hit “publish” prematurely. 😛 

Caring for Cows in the Winter

Caring for Cows in the Winter (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/03/10/caring-for-cows-in-the-winter/)

Whenever I talk about our farm during the winter, the first question I get asked is, “How do cows do with the cold?” Actually, cows tend to prefer cold weather over hot. Their thick hides (7x thicker than human skin on average), hair, and unique heat-producing digestion mean that a cow’s favorite temperature is between 40° and 65° F.  Of course, it gets colder than that during the winter and we want to make sure our cows are safe and comfortable even if a blizzard is blowing outside. So how do we do that?

One of the most critical things is proper housing. A cow needs a clean, dry environment that shelters her from wind and snow. Our cows are housed in a “free-stall” barn and can choose to walk around, eat, drink, lay down, or socialize whenever they want. During the winter, curtains on the side of the barn are raised to block the wind, but on milder days they can be lowered to let in some fresh air. Keeping the cows in the barn during winter ensures the cows never get wet or chilled and protects them from possibly slipping and injuring themselves outside.

Caring for Cows in the Winter: Our Free-Stall Barn (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/03/09/caring-for-cows-in-the-winter/)
A few of the girls resting in their freshly groomed stalls.

It is also important that a cow is receiving plenty of high quality feed. A cow’s largest stomach compartment is her rumen, which she uses to ferment her feed for digestion. This fermentation produces heat and, “is beneficial by helping dairy cows prevent a decline in body temperature” (Cooperative Extension, University of California, Davis). We feed our cows a special diet of grass, silage, straw, and grain using a recipe that our dairy nutritionist formulates for us. This ensures that our cows are getting the perfect amount of energy, protein, fiber, and nutrients that they need.

Caring for Cows in the Winter: Feeding the cows (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/03/09/caring-for-cows-in-the-winter/)
Eating breakfast

While adult cows handle the cold well, our baby calves require special attention. Since a calf’s surface area to body mass ratio is higher it’s easier for them to lose heat. Like the cows, our calves are housed in a barn with a curtain that can be raised or lowered depending on the temperature. Our newborn and small calves are each kept in their own pen so we can monitor them individually and make sure they are eating properly. We feed our calves two times a day, and the milk is warmed before we serve it. We also use warm water for them to drink.

Caring for Cows in the Winter: Warm milk (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/03/09/caring-for-cows-in-the-winter/)
Drinking warm milk

Each calf wears an insulated blanket or coat that helps keep them warm.

Caring for Cows in the Winter: Calf coats (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/03/09/caring-for-cows-in-the-winter/)

Twice a day we add fresh bedding to the pens so the calves stay clean and dry. We also put fluffy straw in the little calves’ pens so they can snuggle down and nest in it.

Caring for Cows in the Winter: Adding fresh bedding (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/03/09/caring-for-cows-in-the-winter/)
Addison adding fresh straw to the calf pens

Looks like she went a little overboard on this one…

Caring for Cows in the Winter: Extra bedding (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/03/09/caring-for-cows-in-the-winter/)

The older calves are housed together in group pens.  We feed grain twice a day with free access hay and water.

Caring for Cows in the Winter: Our calf group pens (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/03/09/caring-for-cows-in-the-winter/)
Mason bedding the group pens

It’s important to us that our cows are warm and comfortable, even in the middle of a western NY winter!

I took a short video of one of our calves playing in the bedding we added to her pen. You can watch it here.

To learn more about winter cow care here’s a short article about How Cows Stay Warm in the Winter.

-The Farming Daughter

I Met Dairy Carrie!

Meeting Dairy Carrie - The Farming Daughterhttps://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/02/14/i-met-dairy-carrie

Addison and I attended a Young Cooperators meeting Thursday. These “YC” meetings, hosted by our milk co-op, are always a great learning and leadership-building opportunity for those of us in the 40 and younger crowd. This time was no exception! We were talking about social media and using it as a tool to reach out to our consumers. It really inspired me to start posting more about our farm and cows, I am the Farming Daughter after all!

My favorite part of the meeting was listening (and getting to talk to!!) our special guest speaker Carrie Mess. Carrie blogs over at The Adventures of Dairy Carrie and writes about farming on a 100 cow dairy in Southern Wisconsin. She had some great advice about “telling our story” and gave us the challenge (which I’m going to try) of posting at least once a week.

If you’ve never read her blog I suggest you check it out!

The Adventures of Dairy Carrie http://dairycarrie.com/

Here are a few of my personal favorite posts:

Just the (dairy) facts: 29 facts about dairy!

A new baby, now what?

Sometimes we are mean to our cows


-The Farming Daughter

World Dairy Expo

World Dairy Expo Logo

October 3-5th Dad, Addison and I took a road trip to World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. Now, for those of you who aren’t farm people, World Dairy Expo is pretty much the cow equivalent to the Super Bowl. One has only to say “Expo” and everyone knows what you’re talking about. The “colored shavings” are as familiar to cattle show-men as the Indianapolis Speedway is to race car drivers. This year, “1,616 owners exhibited 2,225 head of cattle from 36 states and 6 provinces”.

There are 7 shows, one for each breed of dairy cattle. When a cow is exhibited in a show she is groomed to look her very best and then competes against all the other animals in her age class. The judge ranks the cows based on their physical appearance, called their “conformation”.

It was so exciting just watching the shows at Expo, but we actually went for more than just sight seeing. Our calf, Price-View Reginald Prize (“Regi” for short), was entered in the Fall Calf class and we were there to watch her show.

Price-View Reginald Prize, "Regi"

It’s kind of confusing to explain how the show works, but let’s use Regi as an example. She is from the Holstein breed and was born on September 2, 2012, which puts her in the Holstein Fall Calf class (all the animals born between 9/1/2012-11/30/2012). In order to advance beyond that class she would have to get either 1st or 2nd in her class of 48 other calves. Then she would compete against the 1st and 2nd place winners from the 6 other Holstein calf classes. From these 14 animals the judge picks the one he believes to be the best (Junior Champion), 2nd best (Reserve Junior Champion), and 3rd best (Junior Honorable Mention).

The Holstein Junior Champion and Reserve Junior Champion show against the Intermediate Champion (best milking cow not older than 3 years old), Reserve Intermediate Champion (2nd best milking cow not older than 3 years), Senior Champion (best milking cow over 3 years), and Reserve Senior Champion (2nd best milking cow over 3 years). From these animals the judge selects the overall Grand Champion, Reserve Grand Champion and Honorable Mention, which would equate to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd best cows of the entire Holstein breed at the show.

At the end of Expo the Grand and Reserve Champions of each breed face off for the ultimate title in the dairy world: Supreme Champion of World Dairy ExpoThis year’s Supreme Champion winner was the Grand Champion Holstein cow, Bonaccuiel Maya Goldwyn.

the judge slaps Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn on the rump to choose her as the 2013 Grand Champion Holstein (photo Hoard's Dairyman)
The judge slaps Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn on the rump to choose her as the 2013 Grand Champion Holstein (photo Hoard’s Dairyman)

My dad’s all-time favorite Expo winner is Brookview Tony Charity, who earned the title of Supreme Champion 4 times! (1982, 1984, 1985 & 1987)

Brookview Tony Charity, 4 time Supreme Champion winner at World Dairy Expo
Brookview Tony Charity, 4 time Supreme Champion winner at World Dairy Expo

Although Regi didn’t advance beyond her age class, it was still a great experience, and being the 28th best fall calf in the world isn’t that bad either!

Regi's class of 48 heifers
Regi’s class of 48 heifers

We were also able to watch the selection of the Red & White Holstein Grand Champion which was really neat! The judge walked up to the line of cows. Pointing at the first 3 he said, “Bing, bang, boom!” and chose 3 cows that were all related! KHW Regiment Apple-Red was Reserve Grand Champion and her own clone, KHW Regiment Apple-3, ended up beating her for Grand Champion! For Honorable Mention the original Apple’s daughter was selected, Ms Candy Apple-Red.

The "Apple Trifecta" as it's being called
The “Apple Trifecta” as it’s being called (Photo from Dairy Agenda Today)
Our view of grand champion selection
Our view of Red & White grand champion selection

Not only did we see some exciting shows at Expo, but we also walked around the massive trade show. They had booths selling anything from tractors, to milking parlors, to paintings of cows. I ended up making a purchase that hopefully I’ll be able to use on my calves this winter…

A pink Udder Tech calf blanket!
A pink Udder Tech calf blanket!

Friday evening they set up a big auction ring right in the center of the show ring for the World Classic Sale, to sell offspring from the elite of the Holstein breed. The beginning of the sale was like the start of a concert! When the first cow walked in the ring the lights were dimmed and a spot-light shone on her as Katy Perry’s song, Roar, played. It was really great to be there as these awesome cows sold. One we were able to see was the best genetic Red and White Holstein in the world!

Oconnors Aikman Scarlet, the best genetic Red & White Holstein in the world
Oconnors Aikman Scarlet, the best genetic Red & White Holstein in the world

It was a great trip to Expo, and I hope to be able to go again in the future!

-The Farming Daughter

It’s Twins!!

For those of you whose heart just skipped a beat, thinking I was talking about my mom, I do apologize. Just so we’re clear, I DON’T mean my dear mother. Nope, I’m talking about my Jersey cow Ruby who just gave birth to twin heifers (girls)! Although my mom hasn’t delivered yet, she is in the hospital right now and we’re expecting a phone call soon!

Since Dad and Granny are with Mom, I’m holding the fort today. While I was making lunch my uncle sent me a text and told me that Ruby had calved (given birth). I asked if the baby was a boy or a girl and he said girls. I simply assumed that the plural girls was a typo, since it is very rare for cows to have more than one calf at a time. According to the University of Tennessee, there is a less than 1.3% chance a Jersey will give birth to twins. When Uncle Chuck texted me again, he asked if I wanted him to feed them. My heart raced a little at the word “them”, but I shrugged it off as meaning feed the  calf colostrum and Ruby some post-calving electrolytes (which is something we sometimes do if we think the cow needs it). When I asked him to clarify he said Ruby had given birth to twin girls! 

I am so excited about this double blessing! Here are some pictures of the little sweet hearts! I wonder what I should name them? Any suggestions?

Ruby's Twins
Ruby’s Twins
Ruby licking off Twin #1
Ruby licking off Twin #1
Twin #2
Twin #2

I promise to post pictures of Mom’s new baby as soon as she arrives!

The Erie County Fair

We’ve been exhibiting animals at the Erie County Fair my entire life. In fact, Dad has shown cows there every year since 1975! Since I bring my goats, pigs and cows I literally live at the fair for the entire 10 days. It’s a lot of fun, but also a lot of hard work. At 5am I have to get up and milk the cows, then clean out their beds, give each one of them a bath, feed them and sweep up. Then I have to head over to the goat and pig barn and do all the same things for them, and that’s just the morning chores! Thankfully my dad, Addie and Marcus all show animals as well. We all work together to get the jobs done. By the end of the fair you’re definitely tired! (that’s the understatement of the century 🙂 ) Here are some pictures we took during the fair!

Here’s a pic of our “show string” as it’s called. In other words, our cows relaxing on their specially tended beds. My dad may never make his own bed, but he takes very particular care that the cow beds are made perfect.

our cows relaxing on their bed
our cows relaxing on their bed
Marcus and his calf Advent
Marcus and his calf Advent
Addie's sweet calf Beatrice
Addie’s sweet calf Beatrice
Ruby and me
Ruby and me
Westley loves helping with the goats
Westley loves helping with the goats
waiting to show my goat
waiting to show my goat
(photo courtesy Erie County Fair)
Ada and me in the ring
Ada and me in the ring
tired and dirty, but happy
tired and dirty, but happy
(photo courtesy Erie County Fair)
the monarch butterfly tent was really neat!
the monarch butterfly tent was really neat!
Cool! Marcus got two at once!
Cool! Marcus got two at once!
two stunning butterflies
two stunning butterflies

My favorite part of the whole fair was definitely winning Jersey Grand Champion with my cow Annabelle!! I never in a million years thought I would! For those of you who don’t know much about showing cows, Grand Champion means your cow was the best one at the fair out of their breed (in my case the Jersey breed).

Annabelle Grand Champion!
Annabelle Grand Champion!

Pigs in a Blanket

New Pigs

Yesterday we picked up our new 4-H pigs! Every year I raise a pig for the 4-H auction, plus one for my family’s freezer. The pigs are about two month old right now and are housed in a special pen we built for them. In the picture I posted they are snuggling in a little hutch we made, equipped with a heat lamp, so that they will stay warm.  When the weather gets better we will set up their outside pen.

We are raising four pigs this year. The extra two in the picture belong to a friend who has to finish his pig pen before taking them home. The red pigs are a special breed called Spot Rocs (short for Spotted Durocs). My pig is one of the pink pigs (called a Yorkshire) and the black one is a Hampshire.

I have found many benefits to raising my own pig. Since I grow the pork my family eats I know that the meat came from a healthy animal. Local businesses benefit from the advertising they recieve when they purchase a pig at our 4-H auction. Also, the pigs I raise are kept comfortable and are humanely treated.

You’re Kidding!

Sekula the goat kidded today! Kidding is the act of a goat giving birth.  She had an adorable set of boys, which are called bucks.

Sekula's New Twins

When the babies were born they were obviously very wet. I took them one at a time to dry off and get warm. After dipping their umbilical cords in a disinfectant I put them back in with their very attentive mommy.

Drying off the baby

A goat must have babies before she can start giving milk. Since Sekula just kidded she is now once again producing milk. Aren’t her babies the sweetest?!

Baby number 1
Baby number 2

Bottle Feeding Babies

Newborn Calf

Isn’t she cute? This is a five day old heifer calf. She weighed about 100 pounds when she was born. During the winter calves need to be kept warm, that is why she has a blanket on. Like most of the calves on our farm, she is from the Holstein breed.

I fed calves this morning with the help of two of my brothers. Small calves like this one are fed on bottles. Each calf gets 2 bottles, equivalent to 1 gallon of milk.

Our calves are housed in a special barn, kind of like a baby nursery. The calves are fed milk twice a day, and have water and grain available all day long. The care of our babies is very important to us. This heifer, like all of ours, will stay on our farm and one day will have a baby of her own.