Following on from last times blog post where a cow had been given it’s post natal check by the vets, the cow will continue to receive weekly visits until all is well and then the next stage happens.
Approximately 25 days after the vet check has cleared the cow, it will show a heat (approx 41 days after calving). This is when the cow is most fertile and for a lack of a better term, the cow becomes very frisky and horny. Farmers also call this ‘coming a bullying’.
There are two ways of detecting this, at our farm anyways. One is by the farmer seeing signs themselves. Gavin is very good and a keen ‘heat time’ observer! lol! Signs of a cow a bulling are that it wants to jump on the back of other cows in the herd or it will ‘stand still’ (allow another cow to jump on its back), other signs include the cows eyes having a wild expression and flicking their ears actively. Some cows will lick other cows and usually the back area is swollen and mucous sometimes hangs from it. The tail hangs next to the swollen area and is slightly lifted when in heat too. If you were to ask Gavin how he knows, however, he will just say ‘he knows’! Not helpful!
The other way we detect a heat in our cows, is through a computer system called HeatTime. All the cows wear a collar that measures a cows movement activity and when it detects a certain amount, a beacon within the parlour (where the cows get milked) will flash to tell everyone that that cow needs to be seen.
Whichever way a cow is detected they will then be sectioned off from the herd after milking so they can be artificially inseminated (AI) by Gavin. We don’t have a bull on farm anymore and Gavin does all the AI needed. Gavin had to go on a special course to learn how to complete this task so I aren’t able to comment on what happens, however he is usually arm deep in the anal area. With a specialist rod that holds the sperm to put close to the cervix within the cow so it can hopefully find the egg to fertilise.
As always, I would just like to reiterate, what happens on our farm doesn’t always happen on other farms. All cows are different and lastly, I do hope I don’t receive any negativity for sharing this information as I have taken the time to write this, with no opinions shown, just the facts given! I look forward to sharing the next instalment of the year in a cows life.