I couldn’t wait to travel up to see Red the billy goat who served the Boer herd last year, and work with the other goats.
Goats being goats, they ate their way through the hedge into the adjacent field. So job number one was to locate and lead them back. As soon as the three billies saw the Land Rover they followed us back through the gate and down the field before feeding them.
The kids I had seen on the screen when ultrasound scanning months ago were bouncing around in the field with the does. Living in harmony with horses and cattle! We adjusted the creep feeder so the kids could fit their heads to eat the nuts to aid their growth as they are weaned.
After livestock feed shopping, we headed to the dairy farm for the afternoon milking shift. The vet was there on a routine visit vaccinating for Rotavirus and dehorning. Crypto has been eradicated, and the number of sick calves was drastically down since my last visit, therefore growth rates were up. A single calf had scours, born to an unvaccinated cow. Whereas Crypto can cause scours in 1 day old calves, Rotavirus usually affects them at 7-14 days. Adequate colostrum from cows with sufficient Rotavirus antibodies is the ideal prevention. The virus invades the epithelial cells of the small intestine, and affects the villi which provide a large surface area for absorption of nutrients. It cannot be treated with antibiotics, but it is self limited as once the epithelial cells die, the virus does not have cells to invade. Electrolytes can be administered through a tube, to prevent fatal dehydration.
When it was time, we scraped the beds and cleared the troughs before moving the cows down to the parlour. Due to the connection with the release of food when they are in position, they usually walk into the milking stand immediately. Once the line is full, the gates close and food is released. We aimed to milk them 30-90 seconds after wiping their teats clean to maximise the volume of milk as this stimulates oxytocin production which causes them to let down milk. I then attached the teat cups. When the claw retracted, I sprayed the teats with post-milking iodine solution.
Any cows with coloured tapes had either only 3 quarters, on antibiotics or was a slow milker. Antibiotics can’t go into the main tank, so they are milked into a separate bucket.