Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Accidents can happen!

Even the best plans can be thwarted by Mother Nature especially if hormones kick in at the wrong time!   In September 2009 we were given a White Hereford heifer calf to put on a dairy nurse-cow which had lost her calf.   The calf thrived on the Ayshire/Jersey milk, grew well and started to look quite striking with decidedly 'blue' roan colouring.

White Herefords originated in New Zealand early last century when a breeder purchased a line of Hereford cows among which was a roan coloured cow with Hereford markings.   Running with only Hereford bulls this cow  produced a near white calf.    From this, a little family. line developed with the cows having more or less two roan calves to every one red calf all sired by Hereford bulls.  

Over the years with so few  numbers of the line inbreeding became a problem so the White Herefords were crossed out on occasions with such breeds as Jersey, Friesian, Friesian X. Ayrshire, Angus and Shorthorn X.   The progeny, all having the Hereford white face, were then bred back to the White bulls.   In Northland there is a White Hereford Stud known as “Lochnoor” which is making its mark as a recognised breed.

Our herd sires go in with their respective groups of cows in late spring and come out some three months later usually with a job well done.   The calves remain on the cows until they are around eight months old when they are weaned.   Once the calves reach six months of age, however, cows with bull calves are separated from cows with heifer calves.   This avoids any possible hanky panky although beef calves are normally later to mature than dairy ones.  

Unbeknown to us, the drop of dairy breed in our heifer brought her to maturity far earlier than the others and just before the bull was taken out of the herd she succumbed to his charms at a mere five months of age!   Once weaned she went off “up the mountain” at the back of our farm for the winter along with all the other weaned heifers.
In the spring  we noticed this heifer starting to look a bit seedy with a pot belly and harsh coat.   She had also lost cover condition but curiously was developing a small udder.   We decided to bring her up to our yards and drench her but before that happened she produced a tiny calf, perfectly formed and lively.   This wee creature was the typical black/white-face which results from crossing a Hereford bull with a Friesian cow.   Despite being only fourteen months of age the heifer calved all by herself and is a very good mother.

With the drought upon us this very young mum is needing some extra care so we have taken her out of the main herd and put her in with one of the Miniature Hereford groups where there will be less competition for food.   Owing to the age at which she calved and the adverse conditions at present it is very possible she will not cycle for some time.   If she does, then maybe next Spring we will have a miniature White (blue) Hereford!

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