good organic breeds?

kstaven

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When it comes to organic pasture, rotational grazing dairy our best of the best have clearly been Jersey and Guernsey. Holstiens just have never seemed to fair as well on that system around here.
 

bibliophile birds

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thanks kstaven! we've never had dairy cows, so i'm pretty clueless when it comes to dairy breeds. Jersey and Holstiens are recognizable, but i don't know much about those breeds specifically. i'll look into it.
 

BDial

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I have milked a Dexter before and I like their small size. I also know a few people around me who prefer the Highland cattle.
 

Imissmygirls

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For a homestead cow, you don't want a Holstein. They are just production machines. Jerseys can be production machines too but are much more grazing oriented. Try to buy one that has been grazed from a calf. Jerseys can also stand the heat of southern climate better.
No one mentions Brown Swiss or Ayrshires-- or Milking Shorthorns for that matter. These aren't heritage breeds, but they are dairy breeds and would convert nicely to homestead cows. Each breed has its own personality and it would be best to match the breed personality to what you want. Although, again, YMMV.
Personally? I'd go with either Jersey or Ayrshire, Jersey being smaller and more available. Ayrshires you would need to be a cowman to deal with IMO, although they are a very organic breed. Shorthorns have more meat on them so would be better as a meat producer in steers.
As for Guernseys, there are fewer and fewer around because they are a becoming more frail as a dairy breed. For Homesteading, they may be fine. Again, try to get one that her previous grazing experience.
All these breeds have semen widely available for AI, so you don't need a bull around.
You do NOT want a breeding bull around.
 

kstaven

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Interesting comments on the guernseys. Hardy ones are not hard to find around here, so I wonder if it is not a regional issue. Holsteins up here are a nightmare, with continual problems both physically and mentally.

Most Dexters bred in this area are great for meat, barely produce enough milk to supply a calf, and have a mean streak miles wide.

Highlands bred here are very calm and easy going cattle.
 

Imissmygirls

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kstaven, I would agree there would be regional differences in the breeds.For a long time Canadian Jerseys looked totally different than American Jerseys. Now AI has intermixed types very well. Very few Guernseys in this east coast area.
Linebacks are growing in popularity because of their easy registry acceptance and HIGH fertility rates. Many around here are crossbreeds. Local farmers are breeding Lineback as a last resort to settle the cows.

I am surprised there are not more Ayrshire homestead cows unless it is their general scarcity. Breed personality is not as docile as Jersey but hardiness is good. They are a very *natural* cow.
 

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Imissmygirls said:
I am surprised there are not more Ayrshire homestead cows unless it is their general scarcity. Breed personality is not as docile as Jersey but hardiness is good. They are a very *natural* cow.
from the little bit i've read since you posted earlier, the Ayrshires sound great. they would probably fit what i'm trying to work towards really well. plus, i really love their jagged rust spots!
 

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BDial said:
I have milked a Dexter before and I like their small size. I also know a few people around me who prefer the Highland cattle.
do you mean Scottish Highland cattle?

i absolutely adore those shaggy red Scottish Highlands, but i would think they would fry during our humid summers. maybe they are more adaptable than i think, though.
 
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