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. 😛 

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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

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.