After posting this photo the other day–
–there were questions about how Glory Bee manages to milk Beulah Petunia. Believe it or not, she doesn’t have to get down on her hooves and knees.
She manages standing up!
And that puts her in just the right position for mommy to lick her bum. And mommy just LOVES to lick her baby’s bum!
Anyway, warding off the usual questions about BP….. She is bright-eyed, energetic, eats well, has access to all the food she can eat every single day. She looked pretty much like this when we got her. She’s a Jersey.
Check out this link to the ideal Jersey cow. Notice the major protruding hip bones. That bone structure supports their large udders.
This photo was taken on April 12, 2010, the day we brought Beulah Petunia home.
I don’t think I could brag that she’s any fatter now, or at least not much.
Is BP skinnier than the ideal Jersey? MAYBE! She was seen by a vet soon after we got her. I asked him if she looked thin to him. He said, “Maybe. But she’s a Jersey. She’s healthy.” She has hay (or grass, depending on the season) available at all times, she gets feed every day, and has access to minerals. Like all grazing-type animals, she eats practically non-stop, except when she sits down to chew her cud and watch Judge Judy in the afternoon.
One time I took Clover to the vet and asked him if he thought she was skinny. I used to worry all the time that Clover was thinner than the other goats. I was afraid she was wasting away! The vet patted me on the head and told me she fine. He said, “Animals are like people. Some are thinner than others, but that doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with them.”
Here’s a body conditioning page for dairy cattle. Notice that even the average dairy cow has protruding bones. Not as much as BP’s, but maybe they haven’t lived BP’s hard life. We don’t actually know how old she is, either.
One of my favorite (!) comments about BP was sometime last fall when someone commented that she would surely be dead before the winter was over. I was just going to find her skeleton. In the woods!
Beulah Petunia: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
Glory Bee is half Brown Swiss. Brown Swiss is believed to be the oldest dairy breed in the world (at least according to the Brown Swiss association) and they have the highest fat-to-protein ratio, making them great cheesemaking milk cows. They are BIG dairy cows, and don’t have as much of the protruding hip bone structure as Jerseys do. They have an overall bulkier bone structure to support their udders.
You can see a typical Brown Swiss here. In my opinion, they are really much nicer-looking cows than Jerseys (due to the bone structure).
Glory Bee is not yet even seven months old, so I don’t know for sure what she will look like when she’s fully matured, but so far it appears that she will have the body style of a Brown Swiss.
When you stand at their heads, looking down their bodies, you can see a basic difference in their body types.
Even if BP had more meat on her bones, Glory Bee’s body is structured in a more solid, muscular form, like a Brown Swiss. Even a fat Jersey has protrusions because they are just built that way.
Another look–Beulah Petunia’s body:
Glory Bee’s body:
Glory Bee eats grass/hay, and enjoys feed, too, as well as continuing to drink mommy milk when she has her turns with BP. BP shows no signs of being interested in kicking her off. For the time being, I plan to continue as we have been. Glory Bee looks healthy to me, so I think we’re doing something right with her. Beulah Petunia looks as she’s always looked, which is not like a beauty queen. But she’s a good cow, and after a working girl’s life in a dairy, this is the first baby she’s ever gotten to keep, and I’m not going to take her away.
We plan to breed BP this summer for a spring baby (and a winter off milking while she’s dried up, yay, no milking in the snow!). After that, I’m not sure. By next year, we may breed Glory Bee and retire BP. Or just breed BP to have a baby to sell. I don’t know yet. I will probably move on to Glory Bee as the milk cow. She’s younger, and taking BP out of steady milking other than nursing calves might be good for her. We won’t be keeping any more calves. This is a two-cow farm. (At least as long as BP is alive.) I’m not looking to build a herd. Glory Bee is the keeper baby, and I feel so lucky with her. What a bonus we got when we got BP–a perfect and GORGEOUS half Jersey, half Brown Swiss girl tucked away as a surprise. I might be biased, but I think Glory Bee is about the prettiest cow I’ve ever seen.
Can’t wait till I start milking her and she kicks me over the hill the first couple times.
Glory Bee: “Don’t hate me because I’m such a stinker!”
Cows can be a lot of work, but calves are huge helpers if you keep them with their mothers. It’s healthy for them, and allows you to not have to milk every day. It’s almost a year now since I got BP for my birthday and I’ve learned a lot–some of it the hard way. But in the end, I’ve learned this–
I love my cows.