After a long 285 days of growing in my mother, I am out in the real world. The first thing on my mind is getting fed. My mother’s first milk is called colostrum. It is special because it has antibodies to give me passive immunity against getting sick. I am suddenly exposed to a lot of new things. Just like human babies, I get a few shots right away to help prevent disease.
The people at the barn take very good care of me. They leave me inside the barn for the first couple days of life in a comfy pile of straw. I am checked on constantly by everyone here. They look for changes in my behavior, body, and even manure!
I am now outside in a hutch. The best part about living in a hutch is individualized care. Besides two bottles of milk a day, I get water and grain to snack on whenever I want!
Now that I am even bigger and stronger I get to move into a “super” hutch. Here I begin socializing with other calves. My stomach has grown enough that I can handle eating soley grain and no longer need milk. One of the best parts here is that I am introduced to hay!
I am getting to be quite the big girl now. My friends and I were moved into west barn. Here we get to eat grain, alfalfa, and hay.
I am no longer a heifer calf… but a real heifer. We have a big pasture of green grass to roam. Twice a day we get a mixed ration to eat. The managers at the barn keep a close eye on us to see when we are ready to breed. Kids from the S/S club on campus hang out with us in January and February. They train us for a showmanship contest on campus. We learn how to lead on a halter and get really awesome haircuts.
I am bred using artificial insemination. That way I get pregnant at exactly the right time and with the right semen, plus I don’t get hurt by a bull. The vet comes out about every two weeks to double check we are pregnant.
I spend the next 275 days with the other heifers waiting for our calves. We eat and sleep a lot so our bodies have plenty of energy to grow our calves. About a week before our due dates the people here bring us inside to “maternity bay.” We are now watched very closely. In case we have any issues delivering our calf, they will be there to help.
I have graduated from heifer to cow. I have given birth to my very first calf! My body is going through so many changes. It is now focusing on milk production. I don’t have very good mothering abilities, so I’ll be leaving that to the staff here. From here forward I will be doing my favorite things… sleeping, eating, and being milked.