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From the Farm

Four generations in the barn

July 2, 2010
By Kerry Hoffman

It was so exciting.

We should've had a camera at the ready. We could have taken a picture and put a four-generation picture in the newspaper!

It would have taken a bit of work, but we could have made it happen. It's too bad Steve and I were so lazy that afternoon and didn't feel like gathering the subjects for the photo. We could have submitted a picture for the paper.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

We were only missing one generation for the documentation, Valdemoo was up in the compost barn, while Moose, her granddaughter and her newborn great granddaughter were in the close up barn.

Yes, I am talking about four generations from one cow family living on our farm.

It's kind of a funny story how this all cam about.

Moose, Joey's all-time favorite Holstein, hasn't been a milking cow for almost one year. A cow is not milked for 365 days per year, unless you can't get her pregnant. She milks for approximately 305 days and then we stop milking her to allow the calf unborn calf to have available all the nutrition it needs to continue growing inside he mother. Naturally, a cow will drop in production the longer she is milked.

Moose was milked for many more days than 305 days, and she also failed to become pregnant after several attempts.

There are many reasons as to why a cow may not become pregnant, with Moose I am guessing it has something to do with her age. She's an old cow. We figure she is approximately 9 years old. That's old for a cow!

She also happens to be the cow that Joey chose to have live around the farm no matter what happens. It's not like Moose just gets put out to pasture and forgotten about. Nope, she gets put out to pasture and visited almost every day by one of the Hoffman family. If it's Joey, she usually has to give him a ride on her back. I just go out and scratch her dew lap. She loves that and will stretch her neck way out to feel the entire effect. It's like scratching a dog behind the ears - they die for that stuff.

Moose will never have to take that trailer ride to the sky and that gives me the warm-fuzzies.

Moose has been artificially inseminated many, many times. Of course Money Manager also sees this as an expense that has no hope of any type of return on investment. Each time he inseminates a cow it costs us money. Depending on which bull's DNA is in the tube the value can vary. When a cow such as Moose isn't becoming pregnant, the less valuable the tube of DNA becomes. You don't want to use valuable genetics on menopausal cow.

This happened to Moose several years ago, and I was the one to actually inseminate her and get her pregnant. This time around Steve has been in charge of Moose.

"If Moose doesn't get pregnant this time, I may just have to give up," Steve said.

Monday morning was again time for the vet to come out to have a look at our cows. We moved Moose from the outside housing area where all our non-milking cows live, into the close up barn, where most of our cows are housed while we wait for them to have a calf.

Using an ultrasound machine, he confirmed that Moose is approximately 30-days PREGNANT!

Woo hoo!

It just so happens we left Moose in the comfort of the close up barn. There were no other cows lounging in there at that time, so she pretty much had rights to every square inch of fresh cornstalk bedding.

A few days later we moved another cow into the close-up barn, Number 369. She was due to have her calf on the 29th of June.

As it turns out, the expectant cow is Moose's granddaughter. Moose's daughter, and mother to 369, is Valdemoo. She's up in the milking barn at this time.

Monday evening, as Steve and I were putzing around on the four-wheeler, Steve decided to drive into the close-up barn to see if anything was happening. (We were too lazy to get off and walk into the small entryway.

Woo-hoo! Cow 369 had her calf and it was a new baby girl. She doesn't have a name yet. Joey hasn't gotten a feel yet for a proper moniker. I would imagine it's going to be rather imaginative.

So the new calf is Moose's great granddaughter.

It's really cool to see at least three generations of animals in the barn.

That is the kind of longevity a dairy farmer likes to see in his or her herd - especially from a cow family that likes to have daughters.

For questions or comments, e-mail me at



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