The story of our house cows - Part 4

by Elizabeth Beavis
I haven't updated the story of our house cows lately, but its necessary now because Molly, our younger house cow, died a couple of weeks ago.  It was strange because I really thought that we were going to lose Bella first, but she is a resilient old thing, and seems in good health at the moment.  We are not sure what happened to Molly, it was not a long illness, she seemed fine one day and was found dead the next morning.  Anyway, I better start where I finished Part 3.

I wish our pasture looked like THIS all the time!

Back in November 2015, we were still milking Molly and not sure what to do with Bella after she lost another calf and had severe mastitis.  We continued to milk Molly once a week, while Charlotte milked her foster mother Bella and Rosey had some of Molly's milk.

Bella and Molly

Around July 2016 we started to run out of grass at Eight Acres and decided, rather than keep buying hay, we should move all our cattle to Cheslyn Rise, where we had plenty of grass and they needed to move eventually anyway.  In the first load, we took Nancy, Ruby and Fatty (all animals that were destined for the freezer), we put them in our cultivation/pasture paddock, separated from the bull.

When we returned the next week with Bella and Molly, we found that the little shit bull had got under the fence and was in the paddock with our future eaters.  We pushed him out of the paddock, unloaded Bella and Molly, drove into town to buy fencing gear, spent the weekend building a new electric fence along the entire fence line (nearly 1km) and went home pleased in the knowledge that there was no way he could get back in.

Beautiful Molly

The next weekend we arrived to find that he had opened the gate and let himself into the paddock with the cows.  So that gave us a deadline!  We worked out that we would have to be moving to the property ourselves by April 2117.  The intervening months were pretty uneventful for the cows, we just checked on them once a week and fed hay as required.

Molly with her calf (that she hid from me for two days!)

Molly had her little calf a few weeks after we moved.  We were not quite set up ready to milk, so we decided to monitor her and not milk unless we needed to.  She was not in a particularly good paddock, so her udder was not very full and the little calf was soon taking all her milk.  This seemed to work well, as we were busy with the house and didn't have time to deal with 20L of milk anyway.  The problem is even if you don't want that much milk, you have to feed the cow grain to get her into the bales and then she makes more milk.  Nancy has also had a calf and we're not sure if Ruby and Fatty will be having calves too, not sure about Bella either.

Anyway, that seemed to be going really well with Molly until we found her dead three months later (just to be clear, we were checking her regularly and she seemed fine, so I would try this again, for a more flexible milking routine, possibly keeping her in a closer paddock separated from other cows so she could be fed more if required.).  We don't know if it was an issue with not milking her, not getting enough to eat, or even if she ate something poisonous, or was bitten by a snake or had an infection or disease, it is a total mystery and not worth paying for an autopsy as its likely to be inconclusive.

The baby house cows, Charlotte and Rosey, stayed at Eight Acres until we were ready to move, as our neighbour let us use their property as well and because we couldn't trust the bull with our little girls!  We moved them in April 2017, and they are with the bull now.  Bella is also with the bull, but doesn't seem to be in calf, which is probably a good thing, she is a useful tame cow to have around at the moment, at least she knows her name and mostly does what she is told!  I can't face a decision about Bella's future now that we have lost Molly.


Pete asked if I still wanted to have cows at all, after this saga and as we didn't milk Molly.  The truth is that I really wanted to milk Molly, but we weren't set up and didn't need the extra stress at the time.  However, when things are organised, a house cow isn't much more work and the milk is amazing.  So by the time Rosey and Charlotte are ready to calve, we should have our milking bales organised and be able to milk again.  And eventually we want to raise pigs on the extra milk....

So this is not the end of the story at all.  Do you have a house cow?  How is she going?  


Find out more about house cows in my eBook Our Experience with House Cows

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