Friday, May 11, 2007

Graduation and California!

Betsy Hefty (best friend, roommate, and my favorite "cow"girl) and I pictured with a set of Holstein TRIPLETS we witnessed being born on the Joseph Gallo Farm in Atwater, California.
It's official!

On May 5 I graduated from Iowa State University with my Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science. It was a wonderful day filled with family, friends, and fun memories. It still has not sunken in yet that I have finished 4 years of college, but I am glad that I do not have to go back for classes and tests until August!

On Sunday, one of my professors and his two graduate students, along with my roommate and I flew out of the Des Moines International Airport en route to California. We were headed to do one of the graduate student's research project on fetal stress during parturition in cattle. We set up shop at the maternity barn at the Joseph Gallo Farm in Atwater, California. All of the farm's milk goes toward the production of cheese, which they manufacture on-site.

The farm is very impressive because they have a manure digester that collects methane to power 80% of the farm's energy needs. There are 10 different milking sites, each with approximately 1,700 lactating cows that are milked 3 times a day. During our stay, we saw approximately 20-25 calves born EACH DAY!

The highlight of the trip was witnessing the birth of triplets! A very tired, but not any bigger than average Holstein cow gave birth to a 73 pound bull, 68 pound heifer, and a 66 pound heifer . . . that is a LOT of calf to be inside any cow! Way to go, Ma! Most heifers born twin to a bull are considered free martins (~80% of the time) because the male's hormones prevent all of the heifer's reproductive organs to develop. However, in some rare instances, the heifers develop normally, which appears to be the case with these two heifers. It will be fun to try to keep up with the heifers to see if they are able to be bred and enter the milking string.

As with any out-of-state trip, I had a great time, but it was great to be home! Des Moines never looked more beautiful Thursday night--even in the dark! I am excited to be back in Iowa getting ready for a fun-filled summer of visiting all corners of the state. I have added a BOA Bullriding event to my schedule in Emmetsburg, Iowa on Monday, May 28 (Memorial Day). Until then, enjoy the spring weather, and I will write again soon!