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The week beginning the 5th of May 2007.


Saturday the 5th

I began the day feeling a great sense of relief about the heifer.  For the last sixteen months I've worried about her and as her udder swelling grew and grew, I knew that at some point we might have had a very nasty problem to suddenly deal with.  I am hugely relieved that it's all over with no suffering for her and a good outcome in terms of our probably finding out what caused the problem.

After a leisurely morning, Stephan and I went over to the shed with a new scalpel blade and the camera and got the udder lump out of the fridge, turned on a hose and began dissecting the lump.  It looked very much like it might well be mammary tissue and in some places there was what looked like milk.  I found the division between the very large back quarter and the front one and carefully cut the two apart.  There were obvious milk ducts leading to the two teats.  I took photos at every stage and when we finished, we took the whole lot back to the house to weigh everything.  The back quarter weighed nearly 19kg and the front, nearly 3kg.

When I'd quite finished inspecting the udder mass and put a few samples in the freezer, just in case, Stephan took the whole thing away and dug a hole and over the top of the udder, planted a Kauri tree which has been awaiting a permanent home.

Ida 18's moth-eaten tail

A few days ago, when walking along the lane at the bottom of the Pines paddock, I noticed a whole lot of hair, so pulled it out of the mud and had a better look.  It was a calf's tail switch, complete with five centimetres of well-dried skin and bone.  Much of the hair was quite brittle, so I figured it had been there for some time.
I've been thinking about that tail for a few days and it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps Ida 18 doesn't have a stupid-looking tail because of faulty genes, but because her mother trod on it and broke the end off!  I spent quite some time comparing the end of Ida's tail with those of her sisters and others in the herd.  Ida's doesn't feel quite normal at the end, but I can't really be sure it's her tail switch I found.
As you might be able to see in the picture, Ida's tail hair is very uneven and lots of it is white, which could well indicate earlier injury.  The very end of her tail has a slight kink.

Isla and her son, Alex 51, were having a quiet moment together out in the Back Barn paddock at dusk.  I like watching this sort of grooming - both sides of the interaction so obviously enjoying the experience.

You can see the line of licked hair from his brisket and up the side of his neck, where the hair looks all dark and rippled.

Isla and Alex 51

Sunday the 6th

I went to bed for most of the day with the most hideous headache!  I haven't felt so horrid for a long time.  Eventually it subsided enough to allow me to sit upright and think, so I spent a number of hours putting together the history of 516's udder lump with lots of photos, ready to send to the guy at the laboratory, to Greg the vet, and Mary-Ruth, who had followed the case with such interest since seeing the heifer a couple of months ago when she and Theresa visited us.

I won't post them here for the time being, but if you have a particular interest in such a case, please feel free to contact me.


Tuesday the 8th

four lambs where they weren't meant to be

Looking out the window this morning, I spotted these white creatures in a paddock I had no idea they could get to!  Since I'd been planning to get out and sow some grass seed, I loaded up the bike and set off to sort them out.  I didn't have a great deal of success, but did manage to shoo them through a gate into the paddock into which I then moved the heifers.

I then spent a bit over an hour sowing this paddock with Italian rye seed and then let the cows in to graze the paddock.

 

Stephan had to go to a meeting, so after dropping him off, I headed along the Awanui Straight to a paddock in which I happened to know bull #25 was grazing.  I sold him a couple of years ago as a rising yearling and haven't seen him since.  I like keeping in touch with my bull buyers and hearing how the bulls have done after leaving here.  This bull is rather lighter in the rear than I would like to see, but not too skinny a specimen from behind.  His owner is quite happy with him.  The bull's mother is Quanda 09 and Crispin was his sire.  The light was very bright in the middle of the day, so a bit tricky for photography.

Virago 25

Wednesday the 9th

More seed-sowing today, including a trial in two paddocks with a fungicidal seed treatment which makes it $3/kg more expensive than the untreated seed.  I would like to see if the treatment makes any difference in our environment or not.  After a hard graze, the paddocks will be shut up for six weeks to allow the new seed to germinate and the plants to get properly established, before I let any animals in to graze the grass again.


Thursday the 10th

I had a bull buyer coming to inspect the animals this afternoon and I wasn't entirely sure if he wanted to see the older bulls only, or the young ones as well, so I brought the calves and cows in, just in case.

There are some messy bottoms in this little mob!  I presume it's because of a change in feed, as the grass has done some growing after the rain last week.

I sold one of the rising two year bulls, had a lot of conversation, vaccinated the bull calves and then went off to move some cattle in the almost-dark!

cows and bull calves

Friday the 11th

I spent part of my day at a Board of Directors meeting for Kaitaia Veterinary Services Inc.  The Incorporated Society structure resulted from earlier cooperative ownership by dairy farmers of the local Dairy Cooperative.  Members of the organisation, who must be involved in livestock ownership/farming, pay an annual subscription and elect the board members.  The Board sets the policies by which the veterinary practice is run.

I put my name forward last year and was co-opted onto the board when another member retired.  My position is for the last year of the (three year) term for which he was elected and it is proving a very interesting experience.


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