Tips on Caring for Dairy Cows

Are you considering getting a milk cow? More and more families are becoming interested in keeping dairy cows. While running a large dairy farm requires a lot of land, capital, and experience, having a milk cow is much more attainable for the typical family. Below, a Neshoba County, MS vet discusses cow care.

Shelter

Bessie will need a barn, or at least a three-sided shelter. A good fence is, of course, very important. You’ll need to clean your cow’s home daily to remove her waste. Dairy cows are happiest with a few buddies, so, if you have room, you may want to get Bessie a pal or two.

Diet

Grass and hay should form the bulk of Bessie’s diet. If you have suitable pasture, your cow should be allowed to graze freely. We recommend getting your pasture evaluated, especially if you’re a first-time cow owner. Improper pasture conditions can make your cow very sick! If you don’t have good pasturage, you can feed quality hay. Bessie will also need plenty of fresh water, as well as some mineral licks. In most cases, grain should be fed sparingly, as a supplement. Ask your vet for specific nutritional recommendations.

Milking

Dairy cows should be milked daily. It’s better to do this in a stall or stanchion, where you and Bessie are both protected from the elements. Hand-milking takes some practice, but with time and patience, you’ll get the hang of it! Milk at the same time each day. Offer Bessie something to nibble on to keep her happy and occupied during the process.

Health Care

Proper veterinary care is very important! Ask your vet to recommend an appointment schedule for vaccines and exams. Keep a close eye out for possible signs of illness. Some common ones include dull fur; lethargy; a dry muzzle; red, water, glazed, or dull eyes; fever; or a runny nose. Cows that are in pain may also bellow, move off by themselves, or stop eating. You’ll also want to watch for potential symptoms of bloat, which can be fatal in our bovine friends. Lack of appetite; distended stomach; bulging eyes; straining to urinate or defecate; staggering; and shallow breathing are all red flags. Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Does your cow need veterinary care? We can help! Call us, your Neshoba County, MS animal clinic, today.

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