When I milk now, once a day it is usually dark now. On the days I work, it is dark both times I milk. This is one major way the seasons track me.
I feed the horse after I milk the cow at night and stand there until he eats to keep the other animals from helping themselves. Even though he is Alpha in the field, I think he’d let everyone else eat too with only a nip now and again at their withers, until he got another mouthful, then he’d be all oblivious again. He’s such a stoic.
Today is the day I start watching to see if I can notice whether the cow comes back in heat again since she was artificially inseminated a couple weeks ago. Here’s how that went:
I gave her a prostaglandin shot on Sunday night. Officially it brings them in season in three days, but depending on where in their cycle they are when you give it to them, it could take 1 day or 7, or not work at all. Monday night her eyes were a little wider than usual. Tuesday morning her milk just wouldn’t drop down. That’s one sign of heat. Plus she had a little mucous (another sign) and I thought I could detect just a little loosening of her vulva and the tiniest increase of pinkish ness there but I may have imagined that. What I didn’t imagine was that, a few hours after milking, I went to see if she was walking the fences or if she’d bellow or anything else that would obviously be a sign and, when I scratched her rear end, her eyes got wild, she looked me over rovingly, gave up there, looked across the field to the horse, then marched over to him and tried to “bull” him. Bulling is how you tell heat most obviously if you have more than one cow. Which I don’t. I was just hoping she wasn’t going to get her udders kicked off.
I figured if she were willing to bull a two thousand pound horse twice as tall as her, she was likely in heat. I came to the house and put a call in to my AI guy.
“Hey, this is CG, the girl who is bothering you with the Jersey. Did you get the semen?”
“Yeah, got it yesterday. Two straws.”
“Good, cause I’m pretty sure she’s in heat today.” We then discussed the above signs and symptoms and he decided he would make the trek to our farm at about my milking time that night.
I was pleased when he came because he did think we’d caught her in good heat. The mucous was right he said, and since it was gone by the next morning, I think we hit our best window of opportunity. He is an old time cow guy and he said my cow has especially nice udders, and nice feet and legs “for a Jersey”, whatever that means. He also called my children over to his truck and explained everything he was doing to them -- how cold liquid nitrogen is; how once the semen is warm it can’t cool off again so he puts it in his pants to keep it warm (!), how you don’t have to use a glove but really, you want to. The bull I got is supposed to throw nice udders too. I got the sexed semen which means I should have a 90% chance of having a heifer calf but a somewhat lower conception rate than unsexed semen. I’d love to raise a milch cow. I just think that would be such a contribution to the world, a homestead milch cow. I know how very much this cow has contributed to our economy.
So now I’m watching her again closely, and for the next week, for any sign of heat. If I see it, my AI guy has a second straw of semen that we’ll use. If I don’t, I’ll probably get my vet friend up here to palpate her at about 45 days, and float the horse’s teeth while he’s here. And we’ll see.