Tuesday, July 4, 2017

How Now Black Cow - Sparkle arrives

Having learnt a very hard lesson with the demise of Hailey, our poddy cow, we were determined that if we had another cow, that we wouldn't make the same mistakes. Cows in calf need lots of feed. Our cow did not find enough grass to eat in our drought-stricken paddocks and our supplementary feed was not enough to sustain a cow and growing calf.
So when a friend offered us their spare pregnant heifer we were cautious and sought lots of advice. We decided to exchange the meat from one of our pigs for a fresh start with their heifer. 
Rainbow Sparkle may be black but she has plenty of Jersey in her.  

She is about 18 months old and she is due to have her first calf in October. Our cow expert told us that she is a little undernourished (her head is big for her body) but that she is healthy and should be a fine cow if we feed her enough. So we are feeding her a large bucket of lucerne chaff, some grain, some beef nuts mixed with some molasses twice a day. During the rest of the time she has access to unlimited fresh grass hay. She has a goat companion, Flossie, to stave off any loneliness and plenty of water.

Although she had been near humans she had never been handled. It took two days to get her comfortable with me touching her head and a week to be able to touch her all over. Last night I approached her from behind and she responded by lashing out with her foot. Luckily it hit a post and not my leg, but it reminded me that she still has a 'flight' zone and that if she cannot see me approach she will be much more wary.
She now eats in the dairy and my plan for the next couple of weeks is to get her eating in the stall comfortably. Then I can try the head bail.
The kids decided that she didn't quite fit the name 'Rainbow Sparkle' so she has been shortened to Sparkle or even Sparky.
If all goes well we may have raw milk once again come October.

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