The Road to Raw Milk, or, Gertie’s Gettin’ Knocked Up

There are two ways to get a cow pregnant.

1) Identify when the cow is in “standing heat” — when she’ll stand and let a bull breed her — and then put her in a chute, and pay a professional to artificially inseminate her. The advantages to this method are: you get to choose whatever bull you want to breed her, so her calf can be a milk cow or a beef cow, of various options; also you don’t have to deal with keeping a bull around. The disadvantages: buying the necessary supplies, paying the professional, and the off-chance that she doesn’t get pregnant and you wasted your money.

2) Put the cow in the pen with a bull, and leave her there for a couple of months. The advantages: it’s cheaper, typically more effective (because he can breed her as much as she’ll let him…and because, well, his anatomy is built for just this very thing), and I personally prefer it because it’s the more “natural” way. (Joel Salatin doesn’t artificially inseminate, and he gives his reasoning for it here — he says it allows the less-strong sperm to survive, which in his theory, weakens the herd…. he acknowledges there could be plenty of arguments about this, but he calls his stance “intuitive”) The disadvantages: you have to know somebody who has a bull and will let you use him.

Thanks to our friend Matt, Gertie is now hanging out with a nice herd of cattle, three of which are bulls. So we imagine she’ll be pregnant pretty soon.

Everyone followed her around… kind of an “initiation” for the new girl in town.
She was the only one with horns, though, so they discovered that she possessed an advantage when it came to sparring.

We should have a calf and milk by July! We’re hoping for four gallons a day — but even if we get less than that, we’ll certainly have more than enough for our needs.

This bull seemed particularly interested…


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2 Responses to The Road to Raw Milk, or, Gertie’s Gettin’ Knocked Up

  1. Travis Brown says:

    Cool! Why does she have horns and the rest do not?

    • Because we let her keep hers. Most people who raise cattle “disbud” their calves — it’s a horn-removal process that I sometimes wish we would have done for Gertie. We didn’t do it for multiple reasons. We kinda liked how she looks with horns. And we didn’t really know how to do it — and didn’t want to pay someone to do it.
      Those horns are dangerous, though…

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