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family milkin cow

Discussion in 'Breeds & Breeding - Cattle' started by chickens454, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. Sep 27, 2018
    chickens454

    chickens454 Chillin' with the herd

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    we will be moving this summer most likely to Montana. we will get more property so we are going to be able to expand our animals that we keep on our homestead to more then just chickens and ducks. our family has 7 people we go through probably a gallon in 2 days. I was lookin at some breeds and thought maybe a jersey. i dont know if ill be foraging or be feeding it hay based diet. i have lots of questions.

    how long if breed and has had the baby, once the baby is gone and ive started milkin it 2x a day how long will i be able to milk it before i have to breed it again?

    is the jersey a good breed idea?

    what else to feed including hay? i know grain dosent have to be fed but what are the benefits? any supplements?

    i know in some states have laws against the selling of raw milk. but if im getting 4 gallons a day thats to much milk for one family. i haven't got to research on this part yet so wondering is y'all have any experience with it.
     
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  2. Sep 27, 2018
    Wehner Homestead

    Wehner Homestead Herd Master

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    Going to tag a person that has more info. Personally, we milk goats. Smaller animal that’s more manageable, less feed intake, less production. (We also raise beef cattle.)

    @farmerjan has milked Jerseys and used them as nurse cows. She’s a wealth of knowledge.

    Lots of information was discussed about dairy cows for the homestead on @WolfeMomma ’s journal.
     
  3. Sep 27, 2018
    farmerjan

    farmerjan Herd Master

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    Thanks @Wehner Homestead ; @chickens454 , I promise I will sit and put some of my thoughts on paper. But not tonight as I put in 12 hours by 2 p.m. today, then we just got done sorting some beef cattle so we can send a trailer load to the sale tomorrow and I am literally falling asleep, yawning, here as I type this.

    Couple of quick things, there is a web site; RealMilk.com. There is alot of info on states laws etc. to give you a starting point. Also, pigs are great users of extra milk and you can let it sour ( and disgusting smelling) and they will love it.

    I have jerseys, and guernseys and crosses. They all have their good and bad points. I promise to take some more time tomorrow.
     
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  4. Sep 27, 2018
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Get some rest Jan! You've earned it!
     
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  5. Sep 28, 2018
    farmerjan

    farmerjan Herd Master

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    First off I am a cow person, not a goat person, but there are alot of goat people on here that know alot of stuff about dairy in general. But here goes on the cow questions.
    Yes jerseys make good family cows. As do guernseys which are bigger. These 2 breeds have the highest butterfat on average. Jerseys have been bred to make alot more milk than they used to but still will milk less than holsteins and brown swiss. Ayshires are inbetween and are harder to find. Guernseys have a higher beta carotene level which is why they were called "golden guernseys" as their milk actually has a more yellow cast to it. Makes GREAT BUTTER. Jerseys will make great butter also.

    There are other breeds. Dutch belted are a good foraging dairy breed and have good butterfat. Milking Shorthorns are a "dairy breed" that is also beefier. There are Dexters that are smaller and don't produce as much milk.

    If you are going to milk for the house you need to start milking when she calves, not wait for the calf to get bigger and weaned. Most cows will not allow you to milk after having JUST the calf for several months. And any dairy breed will be making way too much milk for just one calf and it can scour and die or the cow will get mastitis in the quarters not milked and you can not only ruin her udder, but get things like staph and strep infections....

    Not to be a wise guy.... how much do you know about cows? Breeding, gestation, milking, problems etc? My first suggestion is to read some books on family dairy cows... Storey Publications have some or go to the ACRES USA website bookstore and look. Or go to the library. I do remember that DIRK VAN LOON wrote a book for the beginner for having a family cow. I am sure there are others. There are several homesteader magazines too that would be of help. Countryside, Small Farmers Journal, Acres USA, just off the top of my head.

    If you know the basics, then a cow should have a calf ideally every 12-14 months. If you let them go too long between breedings, then sometimes they get too fat and/or their reproductive system kinda goes dormant. Then it is hard to get them bred. So, the optimal thing is for her to have a calf, then at about 60-90 days (3months) she should be showing signs of heat and get rebred. They carry 9 months m/l so that would give you a calf in 12-13 months. You can space it out more, and breed to have a calf every 16-18 months; but you run the risk of having less success. Again, it is not necessary to have a calf every 12 months. Say she calves in August, and you would prefer her to have a calf in April...then you would wait to breed her so that she will calve in April; which means she will go over 18 months between calves. But if you want a calf in the spring and she has trouble breeding for whatever reason, you still might go over 18 months. Say she calved in June but you want the calf in Sept, then instead of breeding her in Sept for a June calf, you hold off and breed her in Dec for a Sept calf.
    All said, it is ideal for her to calve once a year. She will be DRY and not milking the last 2 months before she calves. It is her rest period and the calf does the greatest amount of growing during this time. So regardless of how often, when you breed her, you will pretty much know her due date and you will stop milking her 2 months before her due date. If you use AI then you will have a pretty accurate due date. If she is pasture bred to a bull, any good vet can give you an approximate # of months she is bred. And you will know the first possible date by when she is exposed to the bull.

    Okay, to jump ahead.... I drink as much as 2 gallons a week just myself. A family of 7 will use the milk if it is there. Soups, butter, cottage cheese, all kinds of easy to make cheese.....CUSTARD PUDDING that uses lots of eggs and milk.... you can freeze it when there is a surplus and it is great for baking. It will separate out a bit when thawed but is fine to use. Raise some extra calves on bottles or use the cow as a dual purpose nurse cow/milk cow. Feed pigs. They will love you for the milk even when it stinks to high heaven....chickens and turkeys will benefit from it too.

    Grain will increase production. Not necessary, but todays' dairy cows are somewhat conditioned to eat grain and some will lose alot of weight if not given extra concentrates. Alfalfa hay makes a good substitute for some/most grain. I feed grain but I want my cows making more milk because I use them as nurse cows and raise calves on them and want more production....They get pasture and a grass hay free choice and I feed a little alfalfa in the barn with their grain so they all aren't trying to get into the others grain. Some get tied/chained to a short tether in the barn some do not.

    Jerseys are more prone to milk fever than most breeds. Therefore they need a GOOD mineral supplement. There is "loose" mineral that comes in 50 lb bags that gets put in a salt/mineral feeder and they eat/lick it free choice when they want. If you are not pushing for production then they should not get their systems out of balance. A dairy cow will literally "milk the fat off her back" when she first comes fresh. It's called a negative energy balance. Then as her production falls off, she will start to put some weight back on. They have to have good pasture and hay and usually a little grain supplement so that they do not get too thin early in their lactation.

    This will give you a little to digest. I really suggest reading some books or articles on having a family dairy cow.. I can go into more if you want.
     
  6. Sep 28, 2018
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Herd Master

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    @farmerjan Approx how many # of hay does a milking cow consume, per day? I'm thinking dead of winter and no graze. Then acres of decent forage in summer? I'm thinking of her expense for feed. Plus, consider a buddy and their feed.

    Cows are great! But they are large and need a considerable amount of feed. Since this is the "testing" time, this is a something to address, IMO. No matter the breed she chooses.

    I would LOVE to have a cow (in my mind, anyway) and I think it is because I love the fresh butter. It is so much better than my goat butters. Now, my goat milk is as good, the cheeses are great, cooking and all that...butter isn't quite as tasty. Plus right now I get 1 gallon from each doe. More than I need but way less than a cow provides. It's why I have goats! I can milk more or dry them off -- as I want/need to control. They eat less quantity and more browse, smaller to handle. I have full sized. Don't want to spend time & energy on the smaller ones for results. Just like the full sized better for milking.

    THEN -- with a cow, there's the beef calf!! NICE. But, cute sometimes becomes pet.....and butcher gets on back burner. Just saying.
     
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  7. Sep 28, 2018
    farmerjan

    farmerjan Herd Master

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    A cow could eat UP TO 100 # hay a day if fed nothing else, like the dead of winter. We figure a 5x5 roll which is in the 1000 lb range roughly, will last a cow 3 weeks, or we figure 1 roll per 20 cows per day, or 20 days per 1 cow... in the winter. A roll that size has 20-25 "small square bales" in the equivalent. So that is 50#'s plus per day. As you well know it all depends on the intensity of the cold, wet, whatever. A smaller jersey will still eat in the neighborhood of 1 to 1 1/2 half small square bales per day. So 50-75 lbs hay per day, while in production. They aren't cheap to feed. If there is any "picking" or stockpiled pasture grass they will cut back considerably. Jerseys tend to have a higher metabolism, so actually eat more for their size than most think.

    You need to figure that with hay, some mineral, and some grain for the cow and also getting the calf started on it as it grows and is weaned, that it will cost you AT LEAST a minimum of $2.50 to $3.00 per day to keep the cow. And that is on the cheap side. We make our own hay, so I do not figure in the "actual cost" of the grass hay, but I do buy the alfalfa and I do grain them quite a bit while they are in production so I get greater amounts of milk, and I figure that it is $700 per year for me per cow.

    I purposely DO NOT MAKE A PET of any male calves...they become steers and they become beef. I will make "buddy's" of my heifers... that is one good thing, any calves I raise on my nurse cows, there is always at least 1 heifer that I can fuss over if I feel the need to have something to be friendly.

    @Mini Horses ; you need to find someone near you with a family cow that you can trade some goat products for fresh cow milk to make butter....BARTER SYSTEM. I would do it if I was closer. Then maybe trade something for 1/4 or 1/2 beef..... or even buy a quarter or half....
     
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  8. Sep 29, 2018
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Herd Master

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    @farmerjan I'm with you on the barter! Looking for a couple 1/2 grown calves to pasture for someone....I'm hating to cut so much for nothing. Have a neighbor who "may" be interested & really, just a few # of ground beef would be nice at butcher. I'm cheap. Have an easy access of 6 highly grown acres, fenced and all. He's a farrier, so even a couple hoof trims on minis works.

    Not many within a 1 hr drive who actually have milk cows & milk. There is 1 farm but they do "cow shares" so majority of their milk goes to that but, I have suggested goat soap in exchange for JUST some cream &/or butter. Working on that. Just seldom see them. I love barter!
     
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