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Cow Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some answers to the frequently asked questions I receive. 

  • What do you feed your cows? We provide the cows at OWF with only the finest feed, minerals, and supplements. During the spring, summer, and fall the cows are exclusively on pasture and free choice minerals. This is all they need during those seasons. During the winter when the grass is dormant, they have free choice (unlimited) access to high quality (horse quality) hay. The hay I feed is a second cutting orchard grass. In mild winters, this is all they need to sustain their weight. In cold winters, I may have to supplement with grain, but each cow varies. While this is not an organic farm, I like to stick to as natural a feeding program as possible, and only feed grains that are within the natural feeding program of my local coop. I also feed when milking or training the cows and use hay, Chaffhaye, apples, carrots, and/or grain. I also provide my cows with free choice supplements, including: New Country Organics Icelandic Kelp, Redmond Salt with Selenium, Redmond Conditioner, and New Country Organics Cow Mineral. Please keep in mind that some cow feeds/supplements are TOXIC to other animals, including horses and sheep. So please research what you are feeding if you have multiple species of animals in the same pasture/feeding area.

  • Are your calves dam raised or bottle babies? All of the calves here are dam raised. It is healthier for the calf and rumen development if the calf is raised on real milk. The calf is still handled by me pre-weaning so it is accustomed to people. I don't milk the cows on a daily basis due to work commitments so I share the cow's milk with the calf if I need the milk.

  • What do you use for fly control? I use a few different products for fly control that are very effective. To combat adult flies, I generally use an all natural oil based fly spray from Crystal Creek. I pour it into an unused chemical sprayer to administer to the cows - this allows me to spray them over the fence line and works great. It was a brilliant recommendation from my vet :) They need to be sprayed every 1-2 days with this fly repellent. Third, in the height of fly season I will also use Ultra Boss and Clean-up II on cows that are not in milk. And finally, on occasion I will use fly masks if I have a really sensitive cow. I also use Swat (ointment-like texture) on their faces if they have runny eyes from the flies. 

  • Do you hand or machine milk your cows? I mainly machine milk my cows. I find it to be faster (for me) and more efficient. I use the Ultimate EZ Milker. It is simple and easy to use. They have several kinds to choose from. 

  • What do you do for a new arrival? For cows that I just purchased, I deworm them using Cydectin, de-lice them with Cylence (if needed), have the vet administer a Multi-Min shot, measure them, and give them an 840 tag if the cow doesn't already have one. All cows I purchase have been disease tested before I purchase them. 

  • What do you do for cows that are about to calve or just calved? For cows that are pregnant, I have the vet administer a Multi-Min shot approximately 60 days prior to calving. As they approach their due date, I will put them in the paddock by the barn, so it's easier to monitor them and it also provides more security for the newborn calf from predators. Once the cow calves, I administer a calcium paste or bolus, which helps prevent milk fever. Also, larger cows that were bred to a mini bull may have smaller calves that don't drink a lot of milk in the first few days of life compared to a standard-sized calf. In these instances, I will milk the cow for the first 1-2 days to prevent mastitis. It's also a good idea to save (freeze) extra milk with colostrum to have on hand in case of complications with calf nursing. And lastly, I watch the newborn calf to make sure it nurses from mom and gets that colostrum that is so critical. If I think the calf is having trouble nursing or taking too long, I will milk the cow and tube feed the calf to ensure colostrum is received. I also dip the calf's umbilical cord in iodine for several days after birth to prevent infection. Newborns and their dams are kept near the barn in areas fenced in with kennel wire (2"x4" wire) to help keep the newborns safe from predators. Additionally, since young calves cannot regulate their body temperature very well, I ensure they have access to cool areas in the summer and warm areas (like the barn) during the winter. 

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