Tag Archives: calves

Now that is what I Call a Winter Storm on the Farm

Yesterday and last night we had a major winter storm. The day started out with light snow. Then it moved to rain. We had over one inch of rain before it turned back to snow/ice over the night.

This is what Jon and Lisa woke up to:

You can see the weight of the ice damaged some trees and a river is running through the back yard. Some of our calves got spooked last night and were out this morning. We are not sure what happened, but the sound of the breaking trees might have done it. Also, our dog, Boo, completely chewed through the wall in our mud room.

A kind of day like today calls for only one thing:

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There is Hope for Tim’s Wedding Ring

Remember this post “My Husband Doesn’t Wear His Wedding Ring”? In the post I mention that Tim lost his first (and very expensive) wedding ring while working with calves. I am sure the ring is now in one of our fields waiting to be eaten by a cow.

There is hope that we might find it though. Today there is an article on Mail Online  titled Wedding ring eaten by calf  three years ago is re-discovered… inside cow’s stomach at butcher’s shop.

The farmer lost his ring while feeding calves. A calf sucked it off his hand. When it was time to butcher the fully grown animal the farmer asked the butcher to look for the ring. Low and behold, it was there!!

Cattle swallowing metal objects is actually a bad thing. There is even a name for it Hardware Disease. This is when a metal object is swallowed and it is pushed through the rumen to the reticulum. The reticulum is one of the compartments in the bovine stomach, and its function is not well understood. However, the contractions of the reticulum force the object into the peritoneal cavity where it initiates inflammation.

To help prevent an infection, cows are sometimes fed magnets to prevent the metal objects from piercing the stomach walls.

 

So here is to hoping we find Tim’s wedding ring…someday.

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Flipped Calf Hutches: Wordless Wednesday

image

Strong winds or did we do this on purpose? Leave a comment with your guess.

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Fun Day at the Fair

Today was  a great day at the Dakota County Fair. Our family participated in the Open Class Dairy Show. I was going to blog and tweet directly from the fair, but for some reason my data connection on my phone wasn’t working. Ohh well. So here are a few pictures from today.

erik, jonnie, calves, dakota county fair, 2011

Erik and Jonnie "helping" Tim get the calves pretty

calves, erik, jonnie, dakota county fair, 2011

Erik and Jonnie with their calves before the show starts

sam, hannah, dakota county fair, calves, 2011

Sam with Hannah

dakota county fair, calves, erik, jonnie, 2011

Novice Open Dairy Show Class, 17 participants

jonnie, calves, dakota county fair, 2011

Jonnie showing in the novice class

erik, tim, calves, dakota county fair, 2011

Erik getting his first 1st place ribbon-Holstein Spring Calf

calves, dakota county fair, erik, jonnie, tim, 2011

Tim, Erik and Jonnie showing off their awards with Bobbi the Brown Swiss Calf

erik, jonnie, dakota county fair

Erik and Jonnie enjoying a snack of Cheese Balls

cows, heifers, calves, 2011, dakota county fair

Our entire string of cattle resting after the show

Here is short video of today’s judge, Larry Tande, explaining why the novice class is important.

Today was a success. We walked away with many first and second place ribbons. Our family also won Champion Brown Swiss. When I tucked Erik in bed tonight, he asked if he could show again tomorrow. Tomorrow is the 4-H show. Sam and three young adults who lease from us will be participating. In Minnesota, you need to be selected as the top from your county before you can participate in the 4-H show at the MN State Fair. This is Sam’s last year in 4-H; we hope that she does well. She needs to be in the top nine.

Emily

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.

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Filed under #AgChat, Ag Education, Calves and Heifers, dairy, family, Livestock, Raising Animals

Getting Ready For The County Fair

Next week is the start of the Dakota County fair. This is one of the most exciting times of the year for our family. The fair has been a long running family tradition. The Zweber kids started bringing calves, cows and other 4-H projects over 20 years ago. Our family never really “showed” cattle to win big bucks or even had a “show” herd, but they always seemed to do well. Then it isn’t about the winning. It is about the learning.

Showing cattle teaches so many valuable life skills: hard work, commitment, the ability to win and lose honorably, learning how to work with animals gently and respectfully and much more.

A couple months ago, a CNN food blog featured a chef who raved about buying meat from 4-H members. A person commented on the post that 4-H desensitizes kids to killing. This started a huge debate. So what is my opinion? Having a child learn that their project will one day become nutritional meat does not desensitize them. What does is not teaching children that all animals deserve the utmost respect and care while they are alive, no matter if their destination is for slaughter or not. I think I can speak for everyone in our family. Each animal we raise becomes a part of who we are and we need to honor their life and death.

This year both our boys will be showing a dairy calf at the fair. Of course they will both have helpers in the show ring ( Dad and Aunt Sam). The class they show in is a novice class and all the little kids get a trophy. The judge will ask the kids the name of their animal, birthday etc. It is really cute. Most importantly, these kids are learning that caring for an animal takes hardwork and commitment.

jonnie, calves, fair

Jonnie being kissed by Bobbi

calves, erik, jonnie, fair

Erik with Marie

Come see us at the Dakota County fair Monday and Tuesday. We will have 15 animals there on display. We would be happy to chat with you!

Emily

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.

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Calf and Animal Care is our Number One!

Another under cover video has shown a heifer raising facility abusing animals. This is so sad. The video is hard to watch, so I will not post it here. If you really want, you can Google it.

On our farm, animal care is our number one priority. We care for all their needs often before our own. What was shown in the video was not right, and those involved should not be farming and caring for animals. We teach our children at a young age that animals need to be treated with the most care and respect we can give them.

See a short video of how we care for our calves on a daily basis. This video was filmed in the winter. Once the grass starts growing again, our animals will our enjoying the freedom of pasture.

If you ever have any questions or concerns, PLEASE contact us. We are more than happy to answer your questions, address any concerns you might have. We are even happy to give you a tour of our farm.

God has given us farmers the responsibility to care for his creatures. Those that cannot do that should not be farming.

Learn how other farmers are caring for their animals:

Orange Patch Dairy

Haley Farms

Dairy Innovation

RayLinDairy

Agriculture Proud

Emily

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.

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Filed under Calves and Heifers, dairy, Raising Animals

Dairy Farmers Care for their Animals

We are busy cutting hay today, but I wanted to make a short comment about the care of our animals. Last night an animal welfare group released an undercover video of a dairy farm in Ohio. The video is very disturbing. NO dairy farmer should treat their animals like that. What they were doing is very WRONG. Animals are living beings that need to be treated with care. All farmers that we know care deeply for their animals and would not tolerate this type of abuse.

Here a few of our past posts that show the care that we use daily.

Dairy Farmers Care About Their Animals

Again: Dairy Farmers Care for Their Animals

Every Life Matters On Our Farm

Getting Ready for Spring Calves

Calf Chores

Those are just a few of our posts. You can also visit our YouTube page to see a few videos of us in action. (please excuse the poor videographry, I am still learning)

As always, if you have any questions about our farm please give us a call. We would be happy to show you around.

Emily

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, http://www.zweberfarms.com

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Every Life Matters on Our Farm

A few days before a cow is about to give birth on our farm, we bring them into our maternity pen area in the barn. This way we can keep a close eye on them and give them help if they need it.  Today, when Tim was out in the dry cow lot, he heard a cow making noises like she was in labor. She was not due for another week or so. Tim rushed over to her and saw that the calf half delivered already. When the calf was fully delivered, Tim noticed that it had a heartbeat, but was not breathing. He immediately cleared its lungs. For the next twenty minutes he preformed CPR on the calf in hopes to revive it.

I wish this story had a happy ending. Instead after intensive resuscitation, the calf continued to be unresponsive and eventually its heart stopped beating. Tim immediately, reached out for help to learn how he could have prevented this situation in the future. He posted a question on Twitter to our hundreds of fellow dairy farmer followers. Within minutes he received several farmers responses with suggestions and advice.

It is devastating when an animal of ours dies from sickness or complications. As dairy farmers, we do everything we know to help our animals live healthy lives. It totally sucks (for lack of better words) when an animals dies and we don’t have any control over the situation. We can learn from the situation and become better farmers. Farming is always about constant learning.

healthy calf

On a happy note, the Brown Swiss cow who was due over two weeks ago, gave birth to a healthy bull calf today. He has a skinny little face and huge floppy ears. He is as cute as button.

Every life matters on our farm. We mourn for those that are lost and celebrate those that are living.

Emily

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, http://www.zweberfarms.com

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Getting Ready for Spring Calves

Erik with the baby bull calf

We have had a break on our farm for a month and a half from having calves born. We had two bull  calves about ten days ago, but the real birthing flush will be starting now. A healthy bull calf was born this morning and he and his mother are doing well.

This afternoon, Tim, the boys and I got the rest of our calf hutches ready for the new babies. A few days ago, Tim and Jon cleaned out the old bedding in all the hutches and tipped them up so that the sun would naturally sterilize them. Today, we spread out wood chips on the ground where the hutches would be placed. The wood chips keep out the moisture and provide a good foundation for the hutches. Next we put the hutches into place and then filled them with straw. The calves will have nice warm and dry beds.

We keep our calves in the hutches for their first three weeks. This keeps them healthy, dry and clean. Just like you wouldn’t  send a newborn to daycare the day after their birth, we don’t put our calves in group housing right away. This allows us to give them individual attention so that they grow big and strong.

You may notice that milk prices will be slightly lower in the next couple of months. This is because many farmers still seasonally calve. This means that they like to have a majority of their calves born in the spring. The reasoning for this is so that calves are big by the time winter comes along. After cows give birth, they give their most milk. This creates a strong supply of fluid milk April-July, thus lowering the price of milk in the grocery store.

Tim talking to farmer in Luca, Italy

Tim talking to a dairy farmer in Luca, Italy

Our farm has calves born almost every month of the year. We try not to have calves born in July/August (too hot) and January/February (too cold). It was interesting that when Tim and I were in Italy, for our honeymoon and visited a dairy farm, we learned they seasonally calve in the fall. This way they don’t have calves being born when they are doing a lot of field work in the spring and summer.

Let us hope the next calf born is a heifer. Heifers are good because they are our future generation of cows.

Emily

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, http://www.zweberfarms.com

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Weaning Time

Just like human infants must eventually give up the bottle, our calves are too weaned from milk. Dairy farmers take great care to make sure that weaning doesn’t happen too soon and that the health and well being of the calves is their number one priority.

Weaning is a natural process. As calves’ bodies mature, calves have different nutritional needs. Cattle are ruminants and have a four compartment stomach. This makes them good digesters of grain and forage (hay or grasses).

To aide our calves’ natural weaning instinct, we will increase the amount of grain they eat each day about a week before weaning begins (at about 8 weeks of age). We like to see our calves eating around one pound of grain a day and two pounds of hay. Our grain mixture consists of barley, oats, minerals and kelp. This provides them with the nutrients that they need to stay healthy. Also, we watch the calves closely before weaning. If they seem to be sick or have had a lot of stress recently (like really cold weather) we will hold off on the weaning.

After their grain intake has increased, we will start weaning. We lessen the milk that we give them each day. This process is gradual and usually takes about a week. After weaning is completed, they will increase their hay intake. We feed the newly weaned calves the same high quality hay that we feed to the milking cows. We feed high quality hay, which has more nutrients than they need because the calves’ stomachs are still maturing and can’t fully take advantage of the feed they are eating.

We always make sure to wean at the calves’ pace. If for some reason they seem to be stressed during weaning, we back off a bit. Care for our animals is our number one concern.

Our calves grow into healthy and happy cows which produce milk for the next generation of calves and your family.

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