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Can meat cows provide good milk?

Discussion in 'Breeds & Breeding - Cattle' started by FriendsHerd, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. Mar 27, 2017
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Moderator

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    I don't know but I believe I read on here that the Brown Swiss is NOT a cow for the beginner or even a novice to deal with and are really something better left to an experienced cow person. I've also been told/read that Jersey bulls are the MOST dangerous (mean, opinionated, ornery, uncontrollable, deadly) bull to have to deal with. IOW, very much not recommended for a beginner. Aside from those 3 sentences, I'll defer to those who actually know what they're talking about @farmerjan @greybeard @WildRoseBeef & possibly a couple of others... :duc:idunno
     
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  2. Mar 28, 2017
    NH homesteader

    NH homesteader Herd Master

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    I'm not a cattle person but someone I know has a Brown Swiss and I've talked to @farmerjan about them a bit. They're not the best meat animal and can be rather ornery. I'll allow her to elaborate. I won't go near the one I know, he's feisty.

    But also, I am not sure how keeping 2 bulls to butcher weight would work. I don't know if being intact makes the meat less palatable... But given the amount of time you have to keep cattle to get to butcher weight- you're going to end up with some dangerous bulls.or if you're planning on butchering younger, you're going to get a lot less meat since, correct me if I'm wrong cattle folks, I believe Brown Swiss in particular tend to fill out bone first, then put on meat.

    I would raise the steers/heifers to butcher weight and see about finding a vet or AI tech to re-breed.
     
  3. Mar 28, 2017
    misfitmorgan

    misfitmorgan True BYH Addict

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    Jersey bulls in general on known to be esp grumpy and hard to deal with. Brown Swiss i have heard are not as bad as the jersey bulls but still not friendly.

    Brown Swiss and Jersey Heifers/cows(read as females) are known for being very docile and excellent milk cows for small farms.

    I would also agree that going the route of AI or borrowing a bull when the time comes would be far better on your wallet and safety. You might also consider exactly how much milk you need for your family/farm. 6 Gallons a day is going to add up very very fast.

    The Brown Swiss would be a fair amount bigger then the Jersey. Jersey Cows/Heifers are approx 800-1100lbs, Bulls are approx 1200-1800lbs while Brown Swiss Cows/Heifers are approx 1300-1400lbs and Bulls are approx 2000lbs. So whether you could cross them or not would very much depends on each one of their sizes. A 2000lb Brown Bull being bred to a 800lb Jersey Cow would be bad but a 2000lb Brown Swiss bull being bred to a 1100lb Jersey cow would be "slightly" better though still not good. On the other hand a 1200lb Jersey bull bred to a 800lbs jersey cow or a 1300lb Brown Swiss cow would be ok.

    As far as trading the calves that may or may not work out. Farmers dont generally want diary bulls/steers but they do want heifers...but they also want to know that, that heifer is going to grown up to produce well so you would need to know the milk lines/history to make a good trade. Also remember that heifer calves are worth more then steers/bull calves generally.

    You might look into Dexter Cows. They are used for meat, milk and as oxen with milk similar to jersey for butterfat content. They produce 1.5-2.5 gallons of milk a day which might be a more reasonable amount. They are a mini cow breed so overall a bit safer, they are known for being gentle cows. Take 18-24months to reach full size as most breeds do. Adult weight is 600-700lbs for heifers/cows and 1000lbs for bulls, dressing out at 50-70% live weight. They have well marbled and darker meat with little trim waste. They are truly a dual purpose breed who perform equally well in both categories for a small farm.

    Also if you like venison you will probly like goat.
     
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  4. Mar 28, 2017
    farmerjan

    farmerjan Loving the herd life

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    @misfitmorgan has hit on the basic points. Here's a little more of my opinion after 40 + years working with and in the dairy industry. Jerseys will make the best "homestead" cow of the 5 main breeds of dairy animals. Jersey, guernsey & ayshire (about the same), holstein, brown swiss; smallest to biggest. They will be the smallest, as she said, in the 800 to 1100 lb size. Brown swiss are the Biggest. The cows will average out at 1600 + lbs at 4 yrs and older. They are also a very quiet breed but are VERY stubborn. They also have some more problems getting bred and mature slower. I have had some. Not for the beginner to deal with the stubborn independent attitudes. If they don't want to do it THEY WON"T. Holsteins are the next biggest, make the most milk. There are ayshires, which are a bit more high strung but not bad, and then there are Guernseys. My favorite, but hard to get any good ones nowadays and hard to breed. The commercial dairy industry took the "old family cow" that the guernsey really was, and tried to breed it for more milk, made them more frail and there are issues.
    Then there are the Dutch Belted, and Linebacks, which are both nice dairy types. The linebacks are more of a dual purpose as are Milking shorthorns. Then you get to the smaller "dual purpose breeds. Dexters are smaller, but not much more than a jersey. Also Kerrys, but they are more high strung. And there are alot of other breeds that are being used in the dairy industry for farms that are into grazing, like swedish reds, normande, & others.
    ABSOLUTELY UNDER NO CONDITION should you breed a jersey cow to a brown swiss. The swiss are too big boned, and it is a recipe for a disaster.
    You cannot keep 2 bulls to breeding age together; and you should not be keeping a bull of any dairy breed with children around. They are more aggressive than most beef bulls. And no one should keep a beef bull with only a couple of cows to breed either. They will get bored, having done their job and you are looking for a problem to happen.
    Swiss eat 2x what a jersey will eat. Not economical for a small operation unless you have alot of pasture.
    Swiss also will grow alot more frame and bone before they put on weight (meat). Take longer to mature.

    You need to use AI, or a borrowed bull, or take the cow in heat to a farmer that has a bull, for a day, so she can get bred. Problem with that, many are getting to the point of closed herds to stop any infectious diseases. Some places will rent/lease a bull, but they are also picky about who, what, where, when, why, and health issues. AI is really the only sensible way to go for the small farmer, and if you have a stall/stanchion/head catch that the cow comes into to be milked, then she can be caught up to be bred.
    You would be better off just outright selling a heifer calf to maybe someone else who wants a "family, homestead" cow. And if it is a beef cross with your dairy cow, it will make a good beef whether it is a heifer or a bull calf. You need to get the bull calf(calves) banded as babies, let them grow up as steers and eat or sell them. The heifers will start to come in heat from 8-15 months all depending on the breed. It will be annoying enough to deal with them and even the steers will be jumping (riding) them. A young bull will have little/NO respect for fences, people or anything else. You will get hurt, plain and simple; and a heifer might get bred back way too young, then if you don't abort her, it could kill her to calve when she is too small/young.

    This is not to be critical, because I am all too aware of being very busy and trying to raise a child as a single parent. Your son's eating habits are going to be a reflection of yours, so if you do not try to have some sort of regular, normal, eating habits, he will not develop good eating habits either. Before you try to raise a bunch of animals, you might be better off buying a quarter or half beef from someone and get into a routine of making regular meals to establish a pattern of eating. I worked 2 jobs and had to deal with an ex and still we had at least one regular meal a day, and my son developed some decent eating habits. Raise a garden and eat what you produce. You need to provide the example of eating good balanced meals and not snacking on leftovers. It's a habit he will have the rest of his life.
     
  5. Apr 9, 2017
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast Moderator

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    You've gotten a lot of good advice so far.

    But what you really need to decide on is if you really want a cow for milk. The milking part is going to take more work and more effort than simply raising a cow with a calf at side that is intended for the freezer. So, are you really wanting to have a milking cow?

    Dutch belted are good milk producers, not as good as Holsteins or Jerseys, but enough that you're more than likely going to get a lot more milk than you know what to do with. Dairy cattle are great at producing a lot more milk than what their calves need; they're bred to produce a lot of milk.

    Dairy bulls are a DO NOT have. If you're going to get bull calves, they need to be castrated ASAP so they don't cause problems. I've had one too many experiences with a very, very grumpy and belligerent Jersey bull that would start snorting, growling and pawing even when I just happened to look or walk by him. I do not like dairy bulls....! I've been more comfortable being around beef bulls, but even beef bulls can't be under-estimated either.

    I know beef cows can be a little "crazy" than dairy cows, but they can be as tame if they're started young and, with time and patience, learn that people aren't so scary. Basically with any bovine it takes time and patience for them to come around, along with a little coaxing with some feed.

    I highly recommend Dexters if you still want a cow that can produce a bit of milk but can also give a good calf that will fatten up well for the freezer. They're smaller, eat less, poop less, and don't take up a lot of space. Or miniatures, but they're not the cheapest, mind you. But they are generally easy to work with. From what I've been reading I don't think you'll feel comfortable around big cows, because big cows are BIG and look intimidating. When they stand taller than you at the shoulder it's very easy to feel small and insignificant. I don't know the feeling but I've had friends that do and have shown me just how scary it can be, so I can relate.

    But what's most important is that you make a plan and some goals, and really decide on what you want to do with these cattle. What size of cow do you want, ideal temperament, do you have access to an AI tech or neighbor to rent a bull from, and do you even have the land available to raise and graze these animals? Among other things...

    And PLEASE ask questions, you can't go wrong with asking a lot of questions, even if they're the same ones a second-time over. ;)
     
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  6. Apr 9, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYH Addict

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    Speckled Park cows....a VERY milky breed of beef cattle and known for being good and docile mothers. You could maybe have what you are wanting with that breed if you hand gentle them while they are young and get them used to eating in a stanchion and being handled while they are eating there.

    [​IMG]

    They have shorthorn genetics in their background and they are simply beautiful, beefy, milky cows.

    On a beef cattle milk quality note, they may not have the butter fat content of a true dairy breed, but it's good milk all the same. My grandma used to milk her Angus cows when they had calved, taking morning milk after the calves were separated all night and letting the calves have the rest of the day's production.
     
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  7. Apr 9, 2017
    farmerjan

    farmerjan Loving the herd life

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    @Beekissed; Speckle park cattle are a nice breed and are have good milking genetics as you said. They can be milked and the calf run on them as can alot of the beef breeds and especially the dairy/beef crosses, and it's what alot of people that I know that have a "milk cow" for the house do.
    One dairy that I test for also has several Lineback cows. They look alot like the speckle park cattle. Pretty quiet dispositioned also.

    Actually your grandma was getting the best of it as the beef breeds usually have as high or higher butterfat than most dairy breeds. The average butterfat of a beef cow is in the 4-8% range, with 6% not at all uncommon. So she was getting the benefit of the beef, the milk, and a high BF to make her butter or whatever else. That is partly why the beef calves grow so well. They are getting more fat from the cow's milk and their bodies are such that it is utilized better. I have 2 holstein calves on 2 different beef cows that lost their calves. Those calves are way ahead of any that get raised on a bottle and fed grain. They are getting just milk and a little treat of about 1 lb grain per calf about twice a week which I do to get them to learn to come in and will make catching them easier. Also makes them realize I am a "good guy" and they will get a treat if they come in when they see me. They start to come in the creep gate at about 4-8 weeks old to see what is going on in the pen. Usually have a little hay out for them to try, and then start putting a little grain in the feeders and they mouth and play with it and next thing you know it's hey this is good....