A MS girl with a love for Jerseys

Applevalley1

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Hello everyone! My name is Jamie and I live in very rural Simpson County, MS. I call it the land that at&t forgot LOL. We are on 48 acres and I have just recently developed an addiction for jersey cows. I have been raising dairy bottle bulls for about 5 years now and finally decided to buy a nurse cow a few months ago to offset milk replacer costs. I am now up to 8 head, which includes a 7 month old jersey bull named Taz that I've had since he was 5 days old, a 4 month old jersey bull calf, my 1st big dairy cow Lorraine that is a 1st calf heifer(the best 1st calf heifer ever BTW bc she nurses her baby, my 4 month old bull, and gives me a gallon a day and had never been milked when I got her and from day 1 she let me milk her right beside her calf no matter if we were in the barn or out in the field. Couldn't have asked for a better starter cow), her 4 month old heifer Heidi(they are both mulberry jerseys), 2 6 month old holstein angus X heifers, a 10 month old mulberry jersey heifer, and a 3 year old mulberry jersey cow that is heavy bred and due to calve within a week that I call Boss Lady. I have 2 daughters and 1 son. A cowdog named Spicy that is 14yrs old, a 5yr old yard dog named Skeeter, my Itty bitty partner in crime that is inseparable from me that is a long haired chihuahua named Tiny that looks like a mini German Shephard for real and she is 3yrs old. I came here in hopes of finding someone with some dairy cow knowledge that will answer a few questions I have.
 

Applevalley1

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I'm not quite sure how to add my location but I am in Simpson county, Mississippi outside of Mendenhall city limits in the middle of nowhere east central MS and it is in the 90°F range here now in the wonderful humid deep south. I will gladly upload some pics of my herd. I forgot to mention we raise yorkshire hogs as well. I bred English orpingtons for a few years but my daddy got sick a few years ago and I had to sell my flock and move in with him to take care of him but am slowly adding back everything except for rabbits and peafowl. Here goes trying to upload pics, I'm not the best with technology lol but put a pole in my hand and I think I'm a pro bass fisherwoman haha. And for the purpose of my questions, I just got the 2 7 month old heifers, 10month old heifer, and heavy bred cow like 5 days ago, I've had Taz 7 months, little bull 4 months, and lorraine and Heidi were a pair and ive had them for around 3 months +/-
 

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farmerjan

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I haven't seen any questions so can't really say much. You are right though, getting a first calf heifer that is that quiet and accommodating is absolutely the best. I have had some that are great and some that are true witches and some all the different levels inbetween.

I am wondering why you are keeping the jersey's as bulls? I realize that maybe you are thinking breeding in the future. But keeping 2 is not a good idea. The few months difference will not make a difference once they get more mature. Jerseys also mature sooner. You need to be aware that the heifers also will mature earlier. I have had jersey and jersey crosses and even holstein/beef crosses come in heat as young as 10 months old. You DO NOT want them to get bred that young.... but it only takes one quick breeding by the bull and they could get caught. Once a bull gets mature enough to breed, and has an opportunity to do so, you are in a much more precarious position with trying to deal with him. I have had a couple of jersey bulls; specifically to breed a few of my cows. Have not had any problems.... but more often than not you will. I also have used them, then sent them to slaughter as soon as they have done the job they were kept for.

Any jersey bull calf that i get, whether born here or bought as a calf to go on a nurse cow, is banded by 3 months. PERIOD. I have raised more calves than I can count over the years and have done bottles, buckets, and nurse cows and by far the nurse cows produce the best calves with the least amount of cost..... if you have a cow that will take the calves. Some of mine are great, a few are not, most can be convinced to take them with a little time and effort. I usually have 3 calves per cow, sometimes even 4 if the cow is a heavy milker. I used to do at least 2 groups per cow, so she would raise from 4-8 calves during her lactation but now I usually only do one set, let them stay on longer, and feed less grain after about 3 months. There are all sorts of tricks and ways to do it.

If for no other reason, please take it seriously that the heifers you are raising need to be kept separately from the bulls, so they don't get bred too young. Often you will not even know they got caught, and next thing you know at 14-16 months they are looking awfully round and starting to develop an udder and it is way too late to abort them. It compromises their growth tremendously.... even if they manage to deliver and even raise a calf at that young an age. They will always be "stunted" to some extent and often breeding back is a problem.

Looking forward to hearing more about what you are doing, want to do, and if I can give you any help at all.
 

farmerjan

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We have a couple of angus bulls that are pushing 8 years old. We have enough different places to put them with cows for breeding that I can pretty much make sure they don't breed their daughters. We run about 150 head of commercial beef cattle and I have the dairy animals "on the side" so to speak. I like my dairy animals. We keep about 8-10 bulls to use as we rent alot of "smaller pastures" ... 10-50 acres and need a bull at each that has cows to be bred. We rotate our bulls a bit too so they aren't constantly working and we have rented a few over the years to smaller farmers that have 10-20 small cow herds and don't want a bull around full time. So, using the beef bull to breed back your cows is smart. If a bull has a decent temperment, he can stay. We had one red poll bull til hje was 14 and his arthritis got to where we knew he would not be able to get up and down going through another winter. Both my son and I cried when Bubba had to go.
I get the whole "small dairy sellouts" , we have that here although maybe not quite so bad as you. As a DHIA milk tester, I have lost 10 herds in the last 2 years to selling out and 2 have quit testing. Have another couple that the owners are older, no one to take it over, and they will probably go out in the next few years. The ones staying in mostly are getting bigger.

Wish I could help you on the calves, I can come up with any number here, different stockyard sales locally 4 times a week within 50 or so miles of me. Still enough dairies for plenty of calves and many are breeding their lower end cows to angus or "black bulls" .... simmental or limousin.... as the calves bring more. Usually only breed the best cows AI and use sexed semen to get heifers out of those best cows. There are still holstein bull calves for sale but not like there used to be because there aren't as many dairies.

If you haven't found it already, try the website FTCLDF....farm to consumer legal defense fund.... it is all about protecting the farmer and has good info on small dairy operations and things. Also there is a website for REAL MILK.... Dr Weston A Price foundation. Lists alot of info on state by state for rules etc of raw milk sales. Here in Va we are not allowed to sell raw milk and cannot get any liscensing for small scale dairy without spending half the national debt. Most here do "cow shares or herd shares" so that people can get raw milk. Some states allow it, each is different. I wanted to do cow shares after I "retired" , but I am thinking that maybe not. Dealing with the public is just getting dangerous. Lawsuits and all that. We have over a million dollar liability farm policy in case anyone does stupid stuff and gets hurt or an animal gets out and gets hit by a car.... you name it.... I have a 350 gal stainless milk tank that I wanted to put on a trailer so I could move it and not have it in a stationary building.... to store the milk in so people could come get their own in their own jars.... less liability.... still might after I get my knees done and see how I feel and get along next year. I have 3 or 4 jer/hol cross heifers that are bred that will get a 2nd calf put on them this fall... plus my 2 young jersey cows are bred also.... going to have alot of cows to get calves grafted on this fall.... but the original idea was to use them for this "milk/cow/herd share" this fall. I didn't expect that the ankle replacement was going to be so successful that the knees would then hurt so much more... because the ankle doesn't hurt at all.... and am having trouble getting around with the knees. So they are this winters project.... then I might be able to get around like a normal person again and might have a better outlook on the milking cows.
Too bad we aren't closer, we might have been able to work out some sort of a partnership/deal/something since there are few that have the love of a family cow that can be a nurse cow also.... and understands the time and dedication and also accepts that they are COWS, and not make them into pets that you get over the moon about and then cannot look at them realistically. I could never take the heat in the deep south though. Our 85-95 degree days about do me in with the humidity.... Love the mountains here too.
 

farmerjan

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Just a real quick hello and welcome. I am not an expert, but have had dairy animals for a long time. I will try to answer any questions you ask. The articles that @Beekissed referred to should be read and you need to take them to heart. I am not of the same thoughts on some of it but there are valid points. That said, jersey bulls are one of the most dangerous..... and fastest moving..... of the dairy breeds. But we can discuss that in another post. If you use the @ sign and the person you want to reference, it will show up in the alerts for that person and will generate a response quicker.
 

Applevalley1

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Have a list a mile long to do today, but I will try to sit and answer/comment this evening. Glad to know that you are not really a total "newbie" with the cattle. Sounds like you have a good amount of general knowledge and GOOD COMMON SENSE !!!!!
Thank you ma'am. I do have a bit of knowledge about cattle as a general topic, I just have a complete lack of knowledge in regards to dairy cattle specifics and I want my ladies to be in the best condition they can be in. I'm not one of those "if it has a name you can't eat it" or "it's my baby it won't ever hurt me" people. I am a farmer, I do have my picks like everyone that handles a lot of livestock, but at the end of the day it is a job and I want to learn this aspect of cattle farming to get a ROI and just have nobody to teach me. My daddy was the only person I knew that grew up with some dairy cows and I was never interested in them to ask about them then. I apologize for being so thorough, I am just very detailed and try to anticipate any needed info and explain with a book report long reply. Thank you again for taking the time to help me.
 

Applevalley1

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First off let me say THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER MY QUESTIONS SO THOROUGHLY! You are THE BOMB!
The 1st calf heifer is not milking heavy I don't think. Her bags are nowhere near as large as the bred cow's. But she is nursing 2 calves that look excellent and filled out to a tee plus giving me a gallon each morning. And with the 4month old bull being taken off of her in less than a week when he goes to his new home I will be milking her twice a day instead of once.
With our angus cattle we did always arrange for them to calve early spring and late fall and stuck with that routine each year and my husband was funny about never keeping a bull past 5yrs old. But, I assumed dairy cows were not on any set breeding schedule since I always was able to buy calves all year round. It's good to know that I don't HAVE to be in a huge hurry to breed my heifer. I'm not worried about heavy production right now, just when I do get certified and get my needed equipment to do small scale sales at market I will need her to be giving me some milk. Once that all starts falling in place I can then for sure say what schedule I need her on but for right now there is nothing that would make it critical for my needs for her to be bred.
There are no other dairies around me. Our whole state is down to 45 dairies total, down from like 185 less than 5yrs ago. Very sad situation for small dairy farms like the one I have been doing business with. I was just talking to my husband about me getting certified to AI this year. There are plenty of beef cattle around here but none that AI that I am aware of. Just a bunch of older men that have had cows their whole life and just keep the tradition going. To give you an idea about the area I am from, the welcome sign to my town reads "welcome to puckett 300 good friendly folks and a few ole soreheads". Not very much advancement going on, just old fashioned type farmers. When daddy got sick and we sold our beef herd in '18, we did sell our bull to my husband's cousin that is only about 10mi up the road. And I know he would let us use him because he used him even before we sold him. So, ideally, I would like to breed my heifer and the bred cow to the angus bull at the same time so we don't have to fool with the bull but once with loading and unloading and all that. I know that is a good few months away but knowing that it is ok for Lorraine to not be bred back ASAP I can wait until then with no worries. I am keeping Taz around as an option #2 in case it doesn't work out with the angus bull. So either way, in a few months I will be able to get my cows serviced.
 

Applevalley1

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I just went back and tried to re read your posts, and I know that I have not fully addressed everything. I am falling asleep though so am going to have to quit for now. Had a pretty long day, and another tomorrow. I am still getting around slow, the ankle is doing good but the knees are hurting. They are the next to replace and I am looking forward to it because the ankle has done so well.

I think that I read there was an older heifer in with the dry cow too.... You may have to figure out a way to feed the heifers in there separate from the cow so she doesn't get too much grain while dry. Since she was getting some on her previous farm, then a little would probably be good, but not more than a couple pounds.... like a couple "mouthfuls" for her.
If they are not pot gutted, then they are okay to feed a bit more too. But if they are not grazing, you might have to be a bit ruthless, and not feed much to get them to go out and graze. If they were in some sort of "confinement" situation before, it will take them a little bit to understand and be able to get out and do what cows are supposed to do.
I will try to reread tomorrow and see what I forgot to address...
And on the feeding situation, for the past few days I have only been feeding once per day early morning when I milk Lorraine. And I no longer feed the bred cow and younger heifers at the barn. I now feed them in the pasture closer to the house under some trees so they will be shaded while they graze and the water won't get terribly hot. I have been feeding all of them a 2gal bucket per head per day. I will bump Lorraine's ration up per your advice to double what I've been feeding her. The bred cow I try to feed far enough away from the younger ones so she won't bully them because she is mean to them when it comes to feed, I've been calling her boss lady haha. But she gobbles her feed up and runs to the others and finishes theirs off too! The one that is real thin I got her in a routine of coming to the fence about midday for an extra scoop while the others are grazing. Just making those few changes have made a world of difference in their grazing habits. My husband said the same thing you did about them having a huge transition with coming from a dairy with no pasture to having a pasture full of grass to eat all day and blackberries :) but getting them away from the barn that they assumed they were confined to and out in the field and feeding 1x daily has worked so great and they seem spunkier(the young ones). I go outside and just look at them and they run around and explore like they now like their new home. It feels good when you know your ladies are happy. They are kinda skidding though, the younger ones, like they haven't been handled much so I spend a lot of time with them and they are starting to come closer to me and the one I give the extra scoop to let me scratch her behind the ear for a sec yesterday. Thanks again. I'm so glad we crossed paths because your advice and the way you explain things has been a tremendous help to me and I do greatly appreciate you. Have a wonderful day!
 

farmerjan

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I am in the Shenandoah Valley on the western side of Va. I-81. Exit 200 area, so 200 miles to the sw Va/NC/Tn border on the interstate.... About an hour or so north of Roanoke.... I go to the Raleigh-Durham area of NC to the ankle Dr.... DUKE medical center area (more central part so not interstate very much) and that takes about 4 hours. I would imagine that it is at least a 10-12hr drive????? I once drove back from near Orlando Fl and it was over 13 hours if I remember.... it's been 10 years since then. I could find out where there are some dairies in NC or SC from our milk testers.... I think that you could find one closer to you and contract with them to get calves..... saves them the time and expense of taking them to a sale, and saves commission and they would get a set price. Some weeks the prices are up and sometimes they are down.,... some farms I test have someone that comes to get calves once a week.... less trouble for the farmer and they don't always get the best prices, but they figure it averages out in the long run. I would think you could find a dairy that you could work that out with.
 

Mini Horses

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Welcome to the herd. AND we have the perfect cow person for you -- @farmerjan. Get your questions listed....I'm certain she'll answer you. A farmer & milk tester in VA.

Of course we can help with chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits and so on. Pretty diverse here. Couple things -- we like pictures! Let's see those cows! And in your profile, please add some location so we can be more helpful. Our Australians are in winter, TX is in deep heat -- some of our replies could be more helpful with a general location.

So -- 1. pictures 2, questions 3. location :celebrate


I welcome you from VA. Waiting to hear your adventures. I don't have cows but would love a Jersey -- those huge brown eyes! :love Instead, I have a herd of Saanen goats. Yes, milking happening here.
 
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