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Old 01-10-2009, 09:48 PM  
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Questions about Dairy Cows

So I am thinking that when my husband is done with grad school i would really like to have a dairy cow the only problem is i know nothing about them! My family raises cows but I have some basic questions I am afriad to ask!

1. What type of dairy cow should i get? I had read that jerseys have more buttercream in their milk then holsteins but does that mean their milk tastes different or???

2. If this is for my own personal use do i have to take the calf off of the mom? If so why?

3. If i wanted to slaughter the calf for meat would this be a good idea? or should i have meat cows for that purpose?

4. I know that horses and cows should be feed different grain however I have seen them pastured together. Is this ok or should they be kept seperalty?

5. If i do keep the cow alone will she be fine by herself?

6. How often do you have to milk? What happens if i miss one?

7. How much milk could i except to get every milking?

Thanks for your feedback I really want to ask everything I can think of before/if i make the leap!
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Old 01-10-2009, 11:51 PM  
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I don't have dairy only beef but I can tell you about my childhood. My step dad had three cows that I remember him milking. All were a different breed.
"Browny" was an all white cow (don't remember the name of the breed) Then he had "Irene" she was a Jersey. Can't remember the last cows name only that she hated my step brother and rightfully so. She had horns and a temper to match. She was a mix breed. So my first thing to say is get a cow that has been dehorned.
http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/

2) calves transfer bacteria to the mom and they can get mastitis, so my step dad said. So the calves were always bottle fed.

3) dairy calves are steered for a reason. Yes they can be raised for meat. We ate our bull calves. I'll never forget those boys. Us kids even gave them a name.

4) We kept the horses and cows pastured together but when it came time to grain, the horses went to there stall and the cows in their stanchion. Cows are smart animals just like you have your favorite seat at the table they know what stanchion is theirs.

5) I'm going to have to go with yes on this one. But with any herd animal they like companionship. I remember my step dad calling the cows up from the lower pasture "come boss come boss come bossy" and Browny always lead the herd back to the barn. She was called the lead cow.

6) If you don't want her to dry off then milkings have to be fairly consistent. My step dad worked nights so he milked around 9am and 9pm 7 days a week. By having three cows we had milk year round. The calves always came first. What was left over came into the house. In the winter mom would skim the cream off the top and make homemade ice cream. Most of the time it was turned into butter.

7) That depends on where she is at in her production. They taper off as they start to dry off ready to calve again. That's another thing. The cow has to be bred back every year.

Owning milk cows is a lot of work but it can be very rewarding. Today I prefer to milk a goat.
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Last edited by farmergal : 01-11-2009 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:09 AM  
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Becuae I am a fan, did you knwo goats are very good dairy animals? They are a little...uh....easier is no the word, but cows tend to product ALOT of milk, usually more than one family can use during their peak production. Also, making 3 cows is alot of work, feed, and space, where as having 3 gaots is about the same at having 1 cow and you still have milk for most of the year. JMO, I do'nt know anything about cows.
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:37 AM  
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I'll take a whack at this...

1. What type of dairy cow should i get? I had read that jerseys have more buttercream in their milk then holsteins but does that mean their milk tastes different or???

Any breed will work for this. Holsteins produce the most milk of all the dairy breeds. Jerseys have the highest butterfat of all the breeds. It all depends on what you want.... heck a beef cow could do the job just fine too if that's what you desire!

2. If this is for my own personal use do i have to take the calf off of the mom? If so why?

In order for a cow to produce milk, she needs to have a calf at least once a year. I suppose you could separate the calf and raise him/her yourself, but in my opinion calves always do better when they're raised by their dams. I would leave the calf on the cow until he/she is about 4 months old and then you can wean them.

3. If i wanted to slaughter the calf for meat would this be a good idea? or should i have meat cows for that purpose?

I would only slaughter bull calves (any breed), keep the heifer calves or sell them as replacments!

4. I know that horses and cows should be feed different grain however I have seen them pastured together. Is this ok or should they be kept seperalty?

As long as the cows and horses get along, by all means pasture them together. I would suggest separating them at feeding time so everyone gets their fair share of their particular feed.

5. If i do keep the cow alone will she be fine by herself?

Yes she'll be fine, but they do much better in pairs (back to letting her raise the calf herself).

6. How often do you have to milk? What happens if i miss one?

You never want to miss a milking - no ifs ands or buts about it! That's the absolute worst thing you can do. All dairy cows should be milked morning and night and kept on a regular schedule. Some farmers even milk them in the afternoon too.

7. How much milk could i except to get every milking?

That will vary. It depends where she is in her lacation, what you feed her, what breed she is, how you raise the calf etc...
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Last edited by QuarterCowGirl : 01-11-2009 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:14 AM  
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You could check out dexters. That is the breed that I am trying to talk hubby into.
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:25 AM  
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You've already gotten a lot of great advice!!! Here is mine...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucy's Girl View Post
So I am thinking that when my husband is done with grad school i would really like to have a dairy cow the only problem is i know nothing about them! My family raises cows but I have some basic questions I am afriad to ask!

1. What type of dairy cow should i get? I had read that jerseys have more buttercream in their milk then holsteins but does that mean their milk tastes different or??? Yes Jerseys are one of the breeds known for their higher milkfat content. Holsteins are larger and will produce more milk (in general) than Jersey. Do you really want an animal that big and do you need that much milk? If you take a calf off the cow you will need to milk this cow EVERY SINGLE DAY. Just some things to think about!

2. If this is for my own personal use do i have to take the calf off of the mom? If so why? These are dairy cows, not beef cows. Yes we take the calf off the cow because WE want the milk. It is how a dairy farmer makes a living. Once the calf gets the colostrum it is put on a bottle. I do not think that they risk of mastitis is all that great if you leave a calf nursing, after all it is the natural thing to do.

3. If i wanted to slaughter the calf for meat would this be a good idea? or should i have meat cows for that purpose? Dairy beef will yield a decent carcass if you feed it right. Jersey meat is especially nice, but it is a slightly different color than your beef-breed steer.

4. I know that horses and cows should be feed different grain however I have seen them pastured together. Is this ok or should they be kept seperalty? They can be kept together with no problems but I was always told that ruminant feed can kill a horse.

5. If i do keep the cow alone will she be fine by herself? Like horses they are herd animals.

6. How often do you have to milk? What happens if i miss one? This question right here says that you are not ready for a cow, however I appreciate your quest for knowledge BEFORE you get a cow. The answer is, some people milk once a day (with calf on cow rest of day), some people milk twice a day (this is what we did), and others milk three times a day. YOU CANNOT MISS A MILKING. A cow cannot milk itself. You are setting a cow up for pain and potential illness if you fail to milk her on a proper schedule.

7. How much milk could i except to get every milking? Depends on the breed and the individual cow.

Thanks for your feedback I really want to ask everything I can think of before/if i make the leap!
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:29 AM  
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No one has really answered the question about the taste of Jersey milk vs. Holstien milk. Personally, I like Jersey better. It also makes the very best homemade ice cream. The Jersey milk is richer, even after you separate the cream.
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:18 PM  
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Thanks everyone for their feedback!

Number 6 about missing a milking was more like What happens if i get in an like a car accident and miss one? (My family could be there it help out but if it was my husband on his own he would probably run screaming back to the house )

And Diamond_Y thank you that is excatly what i was looking for!
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:28 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diamond_Y View Post
No one has really answered the question about the taste of Jersey milk vs. Holstien milk. Personally, I like Jersey better. It also makes the very best homemade ice cream. The Jersey milk is richer, even after you separate the cream.
It was hard for me to answer this question, so glad that you did Diamond Y. I don't like raw milk (even though it is better for you) as it is too rich for me. We had Jerseys, and I milked Holsteins for a short while. You will probably not taste any difference between the breeds if the milk has been pasturized and homogized. Both of these processes are not good for you, however all milk that you buy in regular stores has been past/homo. People think that skim and 1% are better just because there is less fat, but they have actually removed all the nutrients and have to put them BACK IN. Many people who think they are lactose intolerant can actually drink raw milk because processing removes the bacteria that makes it digestable. Anyway I will get off my soap box now before I steal this thread. I am very passionate about milk and will say that raw milk is the way to go if you are a serious milk drinker. Organic doesn't make a huge difference though. Good luck with your cow if you get one!!!
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:34 PM  
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Drafty, Actually that is one of the main reasons why i want to get my own cow! I think after i have studied cow care a bit more I will probably be coming back asking how to prepare the milk for drinking and for other uses. If anyone has a good suggestion about a book or website about how to make butter and other things that would be great.
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Old 01-11-2009, 04:33 PM  
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I highly suggest you read this book.

http://www.amazon.com/Keeping-Family.../dp/0963181440
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Old 01-11-2009, 06:46 PM  
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Thank you very much Quarter Cow Girl it is on its way.
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