Our Jersey dairy cow, Honey, had her first calf three months ago. Here’s an update on raising our first Jersey calf, Buttercup!
On October 2nd, our Jersey dairy cow, Honey, gave birth to her first calf. You can read all about it in this post. She had a little heifer, which we were hoping for, and we named her Buttercup! She is three months old now so I thought you would like an update on how she’s doing. She’s growing so fast!
Buttercup is a spunky, energetic calf and so much fun to be around. She skips and jumps around her stall when we visit her. Always curious, she likes to sniff us and check us out. She loves scratches under her chin and down her back. And of course, she has those beautiful Jersey eyes that I can’t resist. She’s so adorable and I still can’t believe she’s ours.
Raising a Calf from Birth
When we brought Honey home, she was already six months old. She had been raised very well so we continued her feeding routine and helped her to get to know us by spending time with her and taking her for walks. Honey is now two years old and we love her dearly.
This is our first time raising a calf from birth, however. When she was born, we were so amazed. We had waited so long for our first calf so we couldn’t believe it when she was finally here.
Feeding Our Calf
Buttercup gets a full gallon of milk twice a day, fresh after each milking. We take whatever is leftover which is usually a quarter to a half-gallon, plenty for us! Along with her mother’s milk, she gets fresh hay to nibble on and a small bucket of grain. She also has access to baking soda and a salt lick. Since it’s winter here we have to heat everybody’s water. She has a heated bucket in her stall that we refresh every day.
Daily Routine With a Calf
Cows love routine and Buttercup is learning the schedule of our family well. We milk Honey at 7:30 in the morning so that’s when Buttercup gets some special attention. We scoop out her pen, give her a fresh flake of hay, fill her water bucket, and give her some scratches. Once milking is complete, we bucket feed her and then she’s all set for the day.
Throughout the day, we check on her as we gather eggs (we don’t want them to freeze!) or do other barn chores. She has a roomy stall in our barn right next to Honey so they can hang out and relax all day.
When we head to the barn at 7:30 for our evening milking, this is when we often take Buttercup for a walk. While Honey is being milked, one of the girls gets the halter on her and takes her outside to the pasture to walk and prance around a bit. Then she receives her evening bucket of milk and any other fresh hay or water that she may need and she’s tucked in for the night.
Halter Training a Calf
It’s very important that we halter train Buttercup to get her ready to be milked one day. We use a simple rope halter that is easy to slip on and off. We started by showing her the rope and then laying it on her. Now we are able to slip it over her head and she knows that she gets to go for a walk. Then one of us can lead her around and show her how to walk nicely next to us and go forward and backward.
When she is a bit bigger, we will introduce the milking stanchion to her and she will learn how to walk in and out of it. Then she can snack on her grain while we brush and clean her, an important part of her future milking routine.
Raising Our First Jersey Calf
When we first started looking for a cow, our eventual goal was fresh milk. Honey was six months old when we brought her home so we had to wait almost a year to breed her. After breeding her we waited nine long months for her to have her calf. Then we were nervous about the birth and hoping that it would go well. When her calf was finally born, healthy and alert, we couldn’t believe it!
All that time and waiting, and there she was. We were hoping for a heifer so that was even more exciting. Now we have delicious, healthy, fresh milk every day and we get to raise a precious calf. Watching her grow and seeing her personality come out is a joy as is watching her interact with Honey. We hope they will be lifelong companions.