Thinking about getting a jersey for beef

Smalltownnh

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I have read a lot about how good the meat of jersey steers are... I just bought my house this past year and already have pigs and chickens but this would be the first cow. I am wondering how much to feed in the first 6 months? I have unlimited supply of fresh raw milk(i work for a very large dairy plant) how much hay will I need to account for? I am starting a pasture from woods this year but obviously that won't be ready.... So from bottle baby to 6 months what should I account for hay? Bearing in mind that I can get as much raw milk as needed everyday. Thanks!
 

WildRoseBeef

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Do you have the calf already? Are you wanting veal/baby beef or freezer beef from a 18 to 24 month old (or older) steer?

Time from bottle baby to a six month old calf will be going from milk and grain to weaning onto to grain and hay. Wean at ~3 months. Bottle feeding twice a day, usually, same time every day, keeping an eye out for scours and such. You can do a search on bottle feeding calves on here, as there is a lot of information. Graining would start as soon as possible to get the calf used to being on feed. But hay will start when the calf is getting close to weaning, like around 2 months of age. Before then calves are not suited for eating coarse roughage because their systems are not fully functional ruminant systems until they're around 3 months old. Get him started on a little hay when he's at least a month old will help both with getting used to the feed (just like with the grain), and helping his forestomachs complete their maturity.

Weaning is a gradual process, watering down the milk a little at a time until you're feeding almost nothing but water, then no bottle altogether.

Many of us suggest trying to look for an older calf, one that isn't a bottle baby if you are going to find you won't have the time to spend feeding him regularly, and because of the lower health and illness risks and concerns that is very common with young dairy calves. Yes, jersey meat is good but mainly because you really have to grain them, giving them a lot more grain than you would with a beef steer. And finally, you won't always get a steer calf. All, as far as I'm aware, male bottle babies come intact, so you would have to castrate him yourself or get the vet to do it for you.
 

Smalltownnh

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I was thinking of butchering at about 12 months. I have heard that is a good age for jerseys as they start costing more than what its worth in feed after that. Would you say that's true? It is just me and my wife so we don't need much more than 200-250 lbs of beef. Is it crazy talk to want it strictly grass fed and still have it come out to a reasonable weight for a reasonable cost?
 

greybeard

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Slaughter at the weight you want, not at any specific age.
If you want 250 lbs of cut and wrapped beef, you have to slaughter at a weight for that target results.
On grass (growing forage-not hay) optimum daily rate of gain would be about 2 lbs/day--that's on GOOD grass---you don't have any--just woods.
IMO, it will take you 18-24 months minimum on grass alone to end up with 250lbs of boxed beef. (you lose 40%-60% from live weight to wrapped weight, when the cut off the head, hide, hooves, entrails, blood loss, SRM, trim etc--closer to 60% than 40.)
Minimum live slaughter weight would be somewhere around 625-700 lbs to receive 250 lbs from the processor. How long it takes to get to that weight, assuming you wean at 90 days, depends on what it weighs at weaning and daily rate of gain after that, but I wouldn't expect 2lb/day RoG on hay alone after weaning.
 

SheepGirl

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IMO grass doesn't have the protein required by growing animals to allow them to grow efficiently. Essentially, you're depriving them of protein. Your average grass has 8% protein (around 15% for young, immature grass and 4% for older, mature grass) and your average 220 lb dairy calf requires 21% protein on a DM basis. There is no way for a calf to eat 8% CP grass and meet their nutritional requirement of 21% CP. Let's say a calf eats 7.8 lbs of grass to meet their 6.8 lb DM requirement. 7.8 lbs of grass x 8% CP = 0.624 lbs CP, or around 9% CP on a DM basis. Essentially you are starving the calf of 12% of their protein requirements. It can be solved easily by adding grain, specifically soybean meal or even dried distiller's grains.

Grass feeding is idyllic, but it doesn't meet the nutritional requirements of a modern/domesticated, productive animal such as a dairy calf.
 

WildRoseBeef

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Especially for a Jersey, it is crazy talk to go strictly grass-fed. SheepGirl put it right, and it goes for most dairy animals that have been genetically selected for high milk production: If you can't meet their nutritional requirements, you will end up with a malnourished animal. Unlike beef cattle, dairy cattle have a much higher plane of nutrition and thus higher protein and energy requirements. Grass alone often won't meet those nutritional requirements, so you MUST supplement with a high-protein, high-energy feed like cottonseed meal, soybean meal, beet pulp or anything of that nature.

We're not saying to never put the calf on grass, we're just saying to grain/supp. him and grain/supp. him good if you want to get 250 pounds of good tasting, good quality freezer beef from him. Because I think right from the get-go he's going to be costing more in feed than what he's worth, FWIW.

Otherwise, if you really want to go grass-fed and limit the amount of feed you're going to have to supplement over the next year. get a beef steer. Supplement requirements can be almost literally halved or more with feeding up a beef steer for slaughter. And with most beefers bottle-feeding isn't necessary because by the time they're ready for sale, they're already weaned. But that's your choice, of course. :)
 

jhm47

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Feeding a young Jersey on grass/hay alone would be like trying to raise a child on lettuce only. They need grain to grow properly. Please don't abuse an animal like that. Good luck!
 

Bossroo

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Since you are working for a large dairy, I will assume that the dairy will give ( or sell it to you for next to nothing) you a bull calf and as much milk as you want as a " bonus ". They will be money and your good will ahead while it will cost you more to raise this calf on hay and grain to about 700 lbs to get 250 lbs . of meat. A dairy calf is geneticaly programmed for milk production , NOT to pack on the pounds, while a beef breed is genetically programmed to build muscle . To make this worth your while, just teach the calf to drink milk out of a pail and milk feed it ONLY for 2 1/2 - 3 months of age and butcher it for veal. Then do it again and again for your meat needs. As for grass fed only for meat ... that mantra is advocated by those that know nothing of animal nutrition but are actually starving the animals all the while they brainwash the public to pay more for the cuts of meat as somehow being more "healthy". They should be arrested for animal abuse if not for fraud.
 

mikiz

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Am I missing something? Where I grew up, dairies that wanted to keep their cows in milk would just breed to a beef bull so the calves would actually be useful, is this not a normal thing?
 

greybeard

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Am I missing something? Where I grew up, dairies that wanted to keep their cows in milk would just breed to a beef bull so the calves would actually be useful, is this not a normal thing?
Not for the (few) dairies that are left around here. Even with dairy, the replacement heifers that will eventually end up in the milking parlor once they too have calved--- have to come from somewhere.
 
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