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Some dairy farming talk.


Nov 14, 2009
I'm compelled to share some of my experience. My aim is to keep it reasonable real as I can. This means some of what I write about isn't all sunshine and rainbows.

Saturday a heifer was in labour. It was a hard labour. I wasn't specifically there at the time but I'll explain the best I can. The calves head was out but the front leg was positioned in a way which prevented him from being born. The vets came and saved the mother. They were unable to save the calf. The moms water has broke, the calf will die if it can not get out. Now, here's some of the disturbing details. If knowing the calf died is enough for you then, by all means, skip this spoiler.
It looks like to get the dead calf out the vets had to decapitate it. When I got there the calf was on the ground in two pieces.

Within our lives death is unavoidable.

The mom is still alive. Due to the hard calving she pinched a nerve and now has difficulty with her rear legs.

Some basic information can be found here to get an idea what I'm talking about: https://nadis.org.uk/disease-a-z/cattle/calving-module/calving-part-3-nerve-damage/

She can slip and fall easy. Ideally grassland, dry clay ground or a good straw pen pack would be the best surfaces for her to walk on. Cement floors can be troublesome. A dusting of a good sawdust will give good traction (coarser than table saw dust and smaller than chainsaw shavings seems to work well). She did fall when she got by me and onto the un-dusted cement. Another bucket of sawdust gave her the grit she needed to get up. I got her into the milking barn and went up between two other cows, where I didn't want her. When attempting to get the cow beside her moved she backed into the 8" deep gutter behind her and fell. On reflection, I could have filled the hole with straw which likely would have given her a sound footing. Left her there and did the milking.

Later on I put a halter on her and pulled her around out of the hole with the help of my brother. After some figuring out we rolled her to take the body weight off her bad leg. As the rest of the cows we being let out of the barn she decided to get up and went out with the rest of the cows. This what I didn't want as she was headed to a patch of cement with no cement and a step to walk up. As soon as she stepped up the step she fell. In an attempt to get up she moved forward about 20' but in the end couldn't get a sound footing. Next to her was a gate leading to a clay alleyway so I opened the gate, pulled her around to face the opening and put down some sawdust. Eventually she made her way over there. When she was on the clay she was able to get a footing and get up. With a bucket of water and some silage to eat I left her there for the night.

This morning I tied her up and managed to milk her our a bit by hand. If a cow isn't milked she will go dry. This evening my plan is to correct some of the mistakes from last night. The main thing is to keep the cement path dusted well, fill a hole she has to step over with straw and find a way to get her to go exactly where I want.

Hopefully she can recover. Sometimes they do not. The best I can do is keep her from falling. Time will tell if she heals.

Maiden Voyage

Gold™ Member
Sep 5, 2014
Good on you man. I love the dairy industry. Is this your first cow or did you have previous experience?


Sep 29, 2020
I appreciate the work you do. My brother lives on his wife's family farm that raises beef cattle. Never easy work. I don't know if you ship any dairy products but if you do drop a link and I will buy some product. I love cows and the milk.
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Dec 21, 2008
My Grandpa had a farm that I helped with all the time. I also worked on three different farms from age 11 to 17. After that I worked at a feed mill/Granary/fertilizer co-op for a few years. My point is I have some experience with farming and different farms.
One thing I found is that some are in it strictly for the money and treat the animals and workers as a resource. If a cow is to lose them 1 cent that animal would be discarded.
While with other farmers it's a way of life and really care for their animals, workers, and farm.
You sound like one of the good ones OP.