Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Our cows are a huge part of our farm. A cow can have one baby per year beginning at around 2 1/2 years old and they are productive until around 10-12 years old. Typically a cow has one baby, but they can have twins and even triplets. We had a cow who had twins for 3 years in a row! Cows are pregnant for 283 days, just over 9 months. They go into "heat" again about 40 days after giving birth. We try and give them at least 2 months after calving until we attempt to breed them again. We no longer keep a bull on the farm. We artificially inseminate most of our cows, then rent or borrow a bull to run with the cows out on the pasture for a few months to make sure all of them get pregnant.
Today was the day we did pregnancy tests on all of our cows to make sure they will have babies this spring. Last year we did not test and had 25% of our cows not pregnant. We use the calves that are born on our farm for meat for our family and our customers. When we do not have calves we don't have product to sell. Cows are expensive to feed and raise so when a cow is not pregnant (known as "open") they are costing us money. That is why it is important to know if they are pregnant so we can decide if we want to try and breed again, send the animal to the sale barn, or send to the butcher.
There are a few ways to test for pregnancy. Blood testing, palpation, and ultra sound. This year we chose to do a blood test. Luckily our friend Liz is experienced with this and agreed teach us. All we had to do was draw a small sample of blood. The easiest place to draw blood for this test is from the underside of the tail. Each cow was moved into a head gate, hold the tail up and some one drew the blood. Luckily the process went smoothly and we drew 16 samples. Now they just need to be packed up and sent to the lab. Hopefully we will have good news in 4-5 days!