Monday, November 14, 2011

The biggest comeback ever

This is Peanut. She's one of the Brown Swiss-Holstein crosses in our herd. She recently celebrated her 6th birthday and is in her 4th lactation.

Unfortunately, Peanut inherited her Holstein mother's poor feet and legs, so there are times when her feet get pretty sore. This summer was one of those times. (For the non-farmers reading this, heat hurts cows feet and we had a lot of hot days this summer.)

Not only were her feet sore, but she also developed a large cyst on her left rear knee. We gave her aspirin every day to help ease the pain and even kept her in the barn on some of the hottest days so she wouldn't have to walk so much in the pasture. But Peanut's milk production still fell. (When cows don't feel good, they don't eat, and when they don't eat, they don't make milk.) And she didn't come in heat.

So, we put Peanut on the 'Do Not Breed' list, which meant that once we were done with the grazing season, we would say goodbye to Peanut.

But, then, with a little therapy, the cyst on Peanut's knee went away. And then her feet started to feel better. By mid-October, Peanut was pain free. When she came in for milking, her udder was full. And when she came in heat, Glen took her off the 'Do Not Breed' list. 

When we tested milk last week, we were astonished by just how much better Peanut was feeling. On the October test, Peanut gave 50 pounds of milk. On our November test, Peanut produced 90 pounds.

Peanut's lactation curve (in red)

[Chart from McGill Univ. Dept. of Animal Science]

So, now we don't know what we'll do with Peanut. We're in the process of reducing our numbers to get back down to our winter size, so every cow's performance is under evaluation. If Peanut's pregnancy test comes back positive in a couple weeks, she'll probably get to stay. And if she does, she'll complete the biggest comeback ever.

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