The Future of Dairy Begins with Calving (Part I)

November 1, 2015: The beginning of something magical, though at the time there appeared to be nothing extraordinary about that Sunday morning. I rolled out of bed at 5:00 A.M. and pulled on some old sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt. My husband, Brett and I drove the 23.3 miles to the dairy and started our daily milking chores. When we got there I stopped and looked in our our cow, Buttercup.

We’d bought Buttercup as a bred heifer in June. And we were told she was about 3 months along at that time. Ever since then we’d been anticipating the day when she’d give birth and begin her milking career.

On this particular day, though, I noticed that there was fluid coming out of her vagina and she was making slow pushing movements. Which meant that today was finally the day! If I’d had the chance, I would’ve sat there all day, but since it was Sunday morning, I had to wash up and go to church (Buttercup didn’t need my help to calve. After all, it is a natural process and other people were around incase something went wrong).

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When we arrived back for afternoon chores, I could hardly keep myself from bouncing everywhere in excitement. I ran into the barn and found that Buttercup had given birth to a Red Angus bull calf.

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For about an hour, I sat in the corner with Buttercup and her calf–Buttercup alternating between licking the calf and me. (Buttercup took pretty good care of me, which was generous, considering I hadn’t given birth). About half way through that hour I went and got the warmed colostrum, this is milk given in the first milking of the cow, from the milking parlor and gave the bull his much-needed antibodies.

I don’t think that words can describe how cute these two were. Here is a video that I took of one of Buttercups first interactions with her calf.

Some people might be thinking this is the most adorable story ever, while others may think that it is a little corny, and still others may wonder why this story is so important.

If you’re one of those wondering why this story—and process—are important to dairy farming, I got a fact-filled follow-up post coming up next.

So stay tuned.

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