What a wonderful surprise we found at feeding time early Saturday morning, January 14th. Spice had been milking up for about 3 weeks, but still we weren’t convinced she was ready to have her calf so soon. Usually when a cow is within a couple of days of calving, we check them every 2 hours so we can be available if help is needed. However, Spice is a 10-year-old cow that has never had problems calving and we just didn’t think the calf was coming quite so soon…oops! Fortunately Spice was in a well-bedded, warm calving stall in the barn, so Hannibal had a good place to start his life and he is strong and healthy.
Many people ask how we raise our Miniature Jersey calves: do we bottle feed them or allow them to be dam-raised? Normally we prefer to bottle feed the calves with the dam’s milk. We do this for several reasons, but primarily because we think bottle feeding produces tamer calves that bond better with people. This is a good thing for dairy cows that will be handled daily. However, this is not a hard and fast rule and in this particular case we plan to allow Spice to raise her bull calf. The reason for this decision rests largely on the temperament of the cow, Spice. Spice is very, very gentle and enjoys the company of human beings. Because Spice trusts us she teaches her calves to trust humans, and as long as we do our part and train the calves to lead and enjoy being handled, we have found them to be just as tame as bottle-fed calves.
We just love raising these little mini Jersey calves and we look forward to watching little Hannibal and the rest of this year’s calf crop grow into the fine animals they have been bred to be.
Happy New Year!