What it’s Like Becoming a Snow Bird at Age Twenty-Four

Spending more time at Maddox Dairy and RuAnn Dairy training here in California this winter has me questioning, “It is really December?! I mean, I’m used to Carhartt’s, stocking caps, wool socks, snow boots, frozen snot, and frostbitten cheeks by now?”  I have to chuckle when I put on my layers in the morning here for the 40 degree temperatures.  There is no questions that it is chilly in the mornings here as well, but I know where it’s A LOT colder!!  Don’t take my words the wrong way, I am definitely not complaining.  Escaping some of the South Dakota winter weather is one thing I thank God for every day that I am here!  

Recently I have been training about 3 days of the week with Dr. Daniela, DVM Embryologist, and 2-3 days breeding cows with the breeders Ismael, Julio, and Robert.  I am doing my best to keep their outstanding conception rate up as artificial insemination (AI) isn’t necessarily my forte in dairy at this time.  (But I do have confirmed pregnancies at my home dairy!)  That’s why I am doing more and more of it, practice makes perfect!  Practice, practice, practice!!  I’ve learned quickly that understanding the bovine reproductive tract takes time, and a lot of patience.  As I learn more about embryology and AI simultaneously, palpating (examining by touch) numerous cows has developed my ability and confidence for artificial insemination, and taught me how to detect a corpus luteum (hormone-secreting structure developed on the ovary after ovulation, degenerates if pregnancy does not occur) or follicle (contains the oocyte prior to ovulation) on the cows’ ovaries.  Last year I wrote about embryo transfer and the reasons why I believe many cattle and people in the dairy industry benefit from it.  However I haven’t written as much about dairy reproductive management because I honestly have much to learn about this particular segment of the dairy world!  If a heifer doesn’t have that first baby, she will never produce milk.  That’s basic biology in mammals!  What should you learn from that: reproductive management on any dairy is a top priority to keep cows producing high volumes of milk!  In the coming weeks I hope to share more about what I have learned about dairy reproductive management, embryo transfer, and ovum pick-up procedures and the integral role they have in keeping dairymen and women in business!  

Lastly, if you reside in a frozen state quite literally at this time—my thoughts prayers go out to you!  I am soaking up all the warmer weather I can before I head back to South Dakota in a couple weeks!  Stay warm and keep smiling, spring always comes eventually! 

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