Growing Up on Our Farm – Calf to Heifer to Milk Cow

Calves are born on our farm every day. The heifer (female) calves are raised to become the future of our milking herd. The bull (male) calves are sold at the local livestock auction.

One of our heifer calves in a hutch

Our heifer calves spend the first three months in an individual hutch where they receive personal attention. The first months of life are critical for the calves health and well-being. Their hutches are filled with clean, dry straw to keep each calf comfortable and healthy.

Lad and Jack feed the calves

Individual hutches allow each calf to have their own milk, grain and water.

A calf having a meal - one bucket contains milk the other water

Hutches provide a healthy setting protecting calves from each other’s germs.

This is one of our larger "super" hutches that houses older calves

When a calf is about three months old, she is moved to group housing and her diet changes to grain and water. At four months, she will be transitioned to a diet of grain, dry hay and a small amount of milk cow ration (corn silage, haylage, soybean meal, ground corn and vitamin/mineral mix).

Young heifers in group housing

When a heifer is 13 months old, she goes into the breeding pen where she is bred using artificial insemination. At this stage, she eats grass silage, corn silage and distillers grain.

The older heifers are in a freestall barn similar to our cows

Lad and Taylor pregnancy check these older heifers

When a heifer is about two years old, she is ready to have her first calf. Animals at this stage are called “springers” and they are housed in the close-up pen. When she is a few days away from calving, she will be moved to the maternity pen where she is checked frequently in case she needs assistance with calving.

The maternity barn

 Once she has a calf, she will enter the milking herd.

Taylor Emmons
We are very fortunate to have Taylor Emmons on our team. One of Taylor’s responsibilities on our farm is managing the heifer program. Taylor grew up in this community and is a recent Virginia Tech graduate. Thank you to Taylor who does an excellent job nurturing the future of our herd!