Drying off the first cows

It’s coming to the end of the year now, which means that grass growth is really slowing down, and it’s time to dry off the first of the cows. I have chosen five cows … well actually they chose themselves. Drying off is basically giving them only a little water, and feeding them a very high fibre feed (like straw or rough grass), so that their digestive system begins to shut down and they stop producing milk. So in the pictures they probably look a little thin, but that’s all part of the process. Anyway here are the five suspects:SNB11474 #40-1280

March Mayflower (#40): A giant of a cow, a real Holstein, which means that she was always hungry. She had a good temperment, but kept to herself most of the time. I think that she was just too big to fit into our system as the other small girls just ran around her. This year though she has run into problems with SCC (Somatic Cell Count … or a high white cell count in her milk)SNB11478 #37-1280

Amy Lavender (#37): At 14 she’s an old lady now and had twelve calves to boot which. A small strong cow, never had problems you could always depend on her. Has a mild SCC problem, but she’s just old now, that’s all.

#82: SNB11473 #82-1280well she hurt herself some days after calving. I’m pretty sure cracked her hip bone. She has been walking funny all year, and was struggling along … but she needs to be sound of body for the winter so I’m going to give her every chance. For some reason, she has gone all this time (9yrs) without a formal name. I remember that there was a mix up at the time … and it could not be corrected. Ah, sure it doesn’t matter now anyway.SNB11469 #16-1280

Amy Lavender 2 (#16): Daughter of the Amy Lavender mentioned above that is also drying off now, she had no calf this year. I don’t know why, but i don’t mind much. She has milked well for 17 months, but she’s just decided not to give milk any more this year. She’s due to calve in January, so the break will serve her well as long as she doesn’t get too fat!.

SNB11472 #92-1280

Commander (#92): Well this is the girl that I wrote about back at the start of May. She had twins, and had all sorts of problems afterwards, so as an 11yr old the end of the road has come for her. I will admit that I never did like her in the parlor. She’s what we refer to as a dancer … because as soon as you touch her, she starts dancing from hoof to hoo, and did everything in her power to put you off whatever I was trying to do. But then she loved to have her head rubbed. They’re all different I suppose

So there they are, a decrepit old bunch of ladies that have given their best. They will be around getting fat for another six or seven months, until they are finally shown the door.

But as ever it’s hard to part with the ones you have spent your time with. It is said of course that you should never get emotionally attached to your animals, but it just happens doesn’t it.


4 comments so far

  1. laurie on

    um…..will they become hamburgers? ah well, at least their last six months will be a time of indulgence.

    interesting about “drying off.” neer heard of that before. i thought they gave milk no matter what.

  2. rough hands on

    hamburgers, well yes (or something like that 😦 ), all but #16 as she’ll be back milking next February after she calves. I hate to think of hamburgers, but I have to put it into the back of my head, and give them the next few months to rest and enjoy themselves doing things that cows like to do … okay that would be eating, drinking and socializing (ah,the high life).

    But, I suppose it’s hard to know about things like “drying off” when you haven’t come in contact with it face to face. Of course you can if you like keep milking them all the time, but it’s bad for her as she never gets a chance to rest and build her strength for her next calving. They get about three months break here on average, which is a nice break for them … and for me also 🙂

  3. laurie on

    eating, drinking, and socializing… hmm… guess i’m part cow.

  4. rough hands on


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