Life as a Holstein
By: Liliana Martinez
The moment has come, a new Holstein will step into the world. At the moment it won't walk, but after a few hours it will take its first steps. While the time comes the mother will lick the birth fluids from the calf. In the first 24 hours the calf will drink colostrum milk that will protect the new born calf from diseases and provide vital anti-bodies.
In a couple of days the calf will be separated from the mother Holstein . For the next 6-8 weeks the calf will be feed milk from a bucket.
The calf will be identify by two tags that are inserted in each ear by the law.
The heifers will stay in the farm for milk production while the bull with best genes will be used for breeding. If the bull doesn't have the best genes when it will be sold for its beef.
The Next Step for the Holstein
Before a Heifer is used for milk production, she must have a calf. Heifers are mated at 15-21 months old. Artificial insemination is the usual method although natural service may be used. Usually, the heifer will be pregnant for nine months before giving birth.
Once the heifer has given birth she will begin to produce milk. She will be called a heifer until she has her second calf when she will be called a cow. Milk is removed from the heifer using an electricity-powered milking machine which mimics the natural sucking action of the calf. The milking machine has a ‘cluster’ of four rubber cups which are attached to the heifer’s four teats. Gentle suction is applied to the teats and the milk is drained into a system of pipes leading to a refrigerated tank where the milk is stored until it is collected by a tanker, usually once a day.
The herd is usually milked twice a day, but in some farms they can be milked three times a day. An average cow can produce 6.5 gallons of milk each day. In a day the Holstein will consumed a total of 50 lbs.
A Holstein can live up to 20 years or more, but most of their life they live producing milk. Today Holstein are the major cow milk producers for the United States. When a cow is not able to produce any milk any more than it is used for its beef.