We’ve had some interesting experiences with cows the last two months. First, some background information. Here in New Zealand, dairying is seasonal. Cows are all dried off in May and they calve in August, for the most part. During their dry period, in the winter, they are generally trucked to an area away from their home farm, to give the paddocks there a rest. Our landlord boards dairy cows from a couple of farms near Culverden, and he says it’s very good pay. He had 700-800 cows on his home farm, and around 100 on this farm. The beginning of July, one of the cows at his place “slipped her calf”–it was born dead about a month early. She bagged up, so he brought her over here for us to milk. She was here for three weeks, and we had a few circuses with her (she wasn’t used to being handled), but she was tame as a kitten compared with a couple of others we tried to milk!
The second week of August, one of the cows here calved. She had an enormous udder, so he said we could milk her. We spent two hours one Sunday afternoon, trying to tie her up! She jumped three fences before we could get a rope around her neck, and then it still took an hour to tie her tight enough to milk. During that time, she sent me flying once with her head, and by the end of that ordeal she was charging anyone who came close, and pawing hay up over her back like a bull when anyone so much as looked at her! She stayed tied up in a shed here for nearly a week till our landlord’s son was able to figure out how to untie her and get her back out with the mob.
Several days after that circus, our landlord asked me if I’d like to come over to their place to milk a cow whose calf had died. He has a headgate there, so we figured it wouldn’t be too hard to milk her. He put a rope on her hind foot so she couldn’t kick–but she did anyway! Soon, she was seemingly trying to kill herself and us! They put a strap around her belly to hold her up to the side of the chute she was in, but she laid down anyway. So much for that cow–after I left and the landlord let her go she was charging at him!
By now, I’ve had it with Friesiens. I’ve really been enjoying my sweet, gentle Jersey! I can walk up to her and lead her around by her halter anywhere I want to and she can be tied with a light string and stay put!
Yesterday, our landlord offered us another cow. This one has been in a paddock by herself close to his house for three months, ever since she hurt her foot on the truck coming over here from the dairy farm. Her leg is in such bad shape that when the last of the cows were loaded up and sent back yesterday her owner said to shoot her. She had calved the day before and had so much milk that our landlord decided to keep her, and kept back another bull calf that had been born there to put on her. He offered her to us to milk, and brought her and two calves over today. Her leg was so bad that she couldn’t get on the horse float, so they used this makeshift platform to bring her. She fell down on the way here, and I’m guessing she hurt her udder; there is blood in the milk. Hope that clears up soon.