November 25, 2010

Not quite a dozen

My secretary took a vacation from blogging for a while but things have been plugging away on the farm.  The summer heat and lack of rain took a big toll on the garden and it basically flopped. Next summer will require some type of drip or watering system that isn't labor intensive.  I was able to do some canning from the garden, but it was no where near what I was hoping for.

The biggest news on the farm is the appearance of calves!  My cousin and I have been buying Jersey bull calves from a local farmer and seeing how they do.  The goal is to get them to 800 lbs and sell them at auction.  No idea how much they'll go for, but anything over $1/lb would be good.

Working with a sick calf
It's been tough with the calves though. We have eleven right now but there were more who didn't survive - scours, pneumonia and just poor health got the better of about half a dozen.  I have been expecting about 50% mortality so we're ahead of the curve for now.

All of the calves come to us needing to be bottle fed which can be interesting when I'm trying to feed them by myself. Right now, half of them are being weaned off milk replacement.  The other six are being weaned off the bottles and being fed milk replacement in buckets or troughs.  Last night was the first night of transitioning them from the bottles and it went really well.  All except for one were pretty eagerly drinking from buckets this morning.  That cuts feeding time down significantly.

One of the largest calves was coughing and had nasal discharge - the first signs of pneumonia. I gave him a shot of antibiotics and he seems to be rallying.  The key seems to be hitting them with a dose of antibiotics as soon as the symptoms appear.  The antibiotics I have on hand aren't strong enough to fight it off if I don't catch it right away.

I think a few of the newest calves have scours so I'll be marking them at tonight's feeding and giving them liquid electrolytes to combat dehydration.

Chewin' their cud like good little calves should
My goal is to have a dozen calves; just one shy of that goal.  If I can keep a rotating door going on the farm with new calves coming in as older ones are weaned off the milk replacement, I'll keep adding to the herd.

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