Posts Tagged ‘body condition score’

The Girls eating hay in December

My little cow herd is doing pretty well, all things considered.  They are all purebred Devons, bought in one group along with a registered Devon bull, a younger unregistered bull, three heifers, and a handful of steer calves.  The bulls are gone now, sold after failing their fertility test, and the two horned yearlings went to a friend and neighbor to fill their freezer next fall.

I’ll tell the whole story of how they all came to the Farm some other time.  It’s a long story and I don’t feel like putting it all together today.  I have work to do outside before it rains, and Christmas cards to write and address, and receipts to file, and then afternoon rounds up on the pasture.  But I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the progress we’ve made in just four months with these cows.

To begin with, here are a few shots of what they looked like back in late July and early August:

Skinny Cow 1

Skinny Cow 2

Skinny Cow 3

this is a skinny cow

Pretty skinny, huh?  [Edited to add:  Actually, these photos are more than a little disturbing to me.  I forgot how emaciated these cows were.]  What is important to note is the lack of fat on the spine, on the hip bones, on the tail head, and in the brisket.  Animals can lose muscle but when their fat reserves disappear, they are on the road to starvation.  These cows were being starved – you can see the pasture they were in was nothing but chewed-down stubble and rank, unclipped weeds.  Their body condition scores were very low 4’s and one of them at least, was a 3, by my estimation.

I took a great big risk on them.  I had them hauled back to the farm and put them on my stockpiled pastures, and let them eat, and eat, and eat.  I knew there might be health issues, and there were:  pinkeye, most significantly.  The little weakling male calf came down with it first during an extended rainy period in early September, then just about all the others showed symptoms within a few days and the job of treatment began.  Their eyes cleared up, then one of them would get a runny eye again, and the conjunctivitis would be back.  It was a tough couple of months.   I joke a little about earning my “Junior Vet Badge” but believe me, it was tough, and I’d rather not repeat it.

I don’t feel we are quite out of the woods yet, either, as I will occasionally see a runny eye here and there.  So I watch them like a hawk and take great care to ensure their nutritional plane remains high and steady.  They all get a generous helping of kelp meal each day, and the younger crowd, isolated from the older cows, are eating supplemental clover hay as well.

I’m pleased to see them come back in to condition like they have.  Those photos just say it all.  Now, as we move into winter, I am focusing on maintaining that good condition, and building health.



Pepsi Girl

So much better!

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