The mother of the Madigan squeeze calf that I talked about in my last article, was unfortunately unable to rear the calf, due to a bad case of mastitis.
I left the calf with the cow for a week, but it quickly became clear that the cow just wasn’t going to be able to do the job.
I reluctantly took the calf away from the cow and didn’t feed it for 12 hours.
I was hoping that there would be a good hunger on him when I went in to try to get him to suck a bottle.
I walked out of the pen that evening thinking I had the battle won, but boy was I wrong
In I went at 8pm on a Sunday evening with my fingers and toes crossed and bottle of milk replacer in hand.
After a half an hour of feeding milk replacer into the calf’s mouth from the sugar covered teat on the bottle and half an hour of trying to stay as calm as I possibly could the calf did start to drink and eventually finished the two and a half litres that I had made up.
I walked out of the pen that evening thinking I had the battle won, but boy was I wrong.
To cut an incredibly annoying story short, that was the one and only time the calf drank from a bottle.
After three days of trying to persuade him to suck a bottle, without success, in sheer frustration I pushed him under a calved cow and within seconds he was happily sucking away.
As I was already bottle-feeding another calf, I decided to bite the bullet and get a surrogate dairy cow to feed the two calves.
My other half was pushing hard for a Jersey cow and if it was going to do a job for me then I wasn’t totally opposed to the idea.
I asked a local dairy farmer if he had anything that would fit the bill, something he was going to cull or a high cell count cow, and he did.
He also had a Jersey he was due to cull but as she was calved almost a year, he thought she would struggle to feed two calves for any length of time, so the Jersey was not to be.
Instead, I ended up with a good big square Friesian cow.
It's the first time we’ve had a Friesian cow on the farm in almost 30 years.
I can still remember loading the last Friesian on to the trailer and taking it to Burnfoot Mart to be sold when Friesians became ineligible for payment as a suckler cow.
Unfortunately, I don’t think my first dairy cow will make as much money on this farm as she did on her last one, but as long as she feeds my two calves, I’ll be happy enough.