Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Bonnie's big babies

Bonnie and Max
Bonnie and Sir Loin
Bonnie and Clyde
A regular reader of mine asked why Max is still sucking on his mother at such an advanced age.  There are several reasons, actually.  If Bonnie had gotten re-bred at the ideal time, Max would have been weaned by the time he was ten months, because a dairy cow needs two months of rest before she has a new calf.  Since she isn't due until December (at least we hope she is bred; we will have the vet out for a pregnancy check on all three cows in a couple of weeks), she could theoretically have a calf nursing her until October.  
We found out accidentally how tasty the beef from a ten-to twelve-month-old steer that's been nursing his mother really is.  We don't know if the beef would have been just as good had he been weaned at an earlier age, but we do know we have had excellent results so far with what we've been doing.  We have had cows most of our married life, but we haven't butchered very many of them for beef.  
Another reason I leave the calf on Bonnie as long as possible is that if I weaned him, I would either have to dry Bonnie off (and have no more milk for our use), or else I would have to milk at least once a day, every day, to keep her milking.  I don't want to be tied down to a milking routine.  When she has a calf with her, he takes all the milk.  If I want milk I put him in a stall overnight.  The next morning I take however much milk I want, turn the cow and calf together, and I am done milking until I need milk again.  
It works for me.  Now, if Bonnie should EVER have a heifer (female) calf (I've almost given up on that), I would probably wean her at a little younger age, because I wouldn't plan on using her for beef.  Not that a heifer doesn't make good beef, but because I would probably keep her, just because she would be Bonnie's calf.  
By the way, someone once saw one of Bonnie's huge calves nursing her and asked, "Isn't she ever going to wean that calf?"  
I've never seen a cow wean her calf of her own free will.  They love their role as a mother, and in my experience, they would cheerfully let that baby nurse forever.  I sometimes wonder what buffaloes do if a grown calf is still nursing when a new baby is born.  There's nobody to make them go through the weaning process.  



Thanks for the insight.

Midlife Mom said...

Wow! Those ARE big babies! And to think I thought my 10 lb. 5 oz. son was big! ha!

Was nice to get up this morning to some comments. I have missed it but things have been so unsettled here I really haven't even had time to think about it. Will zip you off an e-mail to fill you in a bit. Some things you just can't put in a blog.

It's raining here today and I have about 18 people coming to the lake. Guess it will be an inside day with games and eating. Yesterday was gorgeous, just perfect for the lake. Oh well...