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Dairy Cows

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by FamilyOfChickens, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. FamilyOfChickens

    FamilyOfChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 24, 2007
    Northwest Indiana
    Anybody have any? Especially in N. Indiana? We're looking into possibly getting a heifer in the next year or two, and are wondering about cost, good breeds, housing, other costs like feed, et cetera. [​IMG]
     
  2. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    We don't have any but my hubby was thinking we should get one too. I'd be interested in what others have to say too.
     
  3. Picco

    Picco Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 14, 2007
    NY
    I practically grew up on my grandmother's dairy farm and have raised and shown jerseys for many years. I sold my herd before going to college so I am now cowless but I would highly recommend the breed. They are the fawn colored cows that have the beautiful faces. Cows are herd animals so you should always have at least two. Your best bet is to go to a local farm and ask. Heifer calves are not cheap but you will probably be able to find one for 300-400 bucks. Registered (w/ papers) are a bit more. Feeding can get expensive especially in the winter months. In the summer a heifer can get by on grass and a little grain but a producing cow will need a lot of feed. In the winter hay and grain will need to be fed. Water is very important and milk cows drink 40 gallons or more in a day. Shelter can be pretty simple but the cows will need to get out of the wind and rain/snow. A three sided shelter will work fine. The most expensive part is the vet bill. Cows are very hardy animals but they will need regular vaccinations, parasite treatment and general vet care for mantainance. A cow that is pregnant or milking can encounter some serious health problems. I'll give you some info on breeds.

    Dairy Breeds

    Holstein - (large black and white, sometimes red and whitei) most common cow, a heavy milk producer so it may not suit a backyard operation.

    Jersey- (smaller than holstein and fawn brown in color, usually solid but sometimes brown and white), a good milk producer, very smart and full of personality. Milk is higher in butterfat making it ideal for cheese and other dairy products

    Ayreshire - (large gred and white) good milk producers.

    Brown Swiss - (very large grayish brown) good producers, ver beautiful and uncommon.

    Guernsey - (large golden and white) Beautiful good producers of golden colored milk which is high in butterfat.

    Milking Short Horn - (large red, white, or speckled) OK producers, beautiful, interesting and rare.

    Beef Breeds

    Hereford - (large red with white faces) a good beef breed, common, docile and pretty.

    Angus - (large solid black or red) the best tasting beef but the breed is a bit on the wild side.

    Heritage Breeds (old dual purpose varieties)

    Irish Dexter - (very small brown or black) does ver well on a more natural grass based diet. Very rare and expensive but is a very good choice for a back yarder.

    Randal Lineback - (medium sized black with white speckles and a white line down its back) old american variety suited to a more natural grass diet.

    Belted Galloways - (medium, oreo-cookie, black with a white belt around the middle) An interesting looking cow.
     
  4. Betsy

    Betsy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 24, 2007
    Northeast Indiana
    I could ask my neighbors who have a few cows (for beef) if they know anyone with dairy cows for sale but I live at the opposite side of IN. Your local library should have some books about dairy cows/small scale livestock farming.
     
  5. Frozen Feathers

    Frozen Feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2007
    Maine
    I worked on a dairy farm as a teenager. [​IMG] My best friends father owns it, so I it was mostly volunteer, but I did get a couple of pair of working show steers out of it. [​IMG] They had milking Shorthorns. They are great as a dual purpose breed, also.
    They are very hardy and do really well in winter. They are fairly docile and I think would be wonderful as a family cow. Unfortunately there has been a great decline in the breed and they are becoming very hard to find.

    I would say a good fresh (just calved and producing milk) dairy cow would cost about $600-$1200 for a pure bred.

    Housing can be quite simple, as long as they can get out of the weather they do well. Hay cost can be expensive but on the bright side is that cattle can extract nutrients out almost anything, so as long as the hay is not moldy, you can still feed it. Here hay is about 2.50-3 a bale. Although you can get it cheaper straight from the field, for about $1.50 as in you go out in the field and pick-up and load the hay the farmer just baled. A milking cow needs grain, about 3lbs is average daily. Usually cost is about $12 for 50lbs of grain. They will eat about half to 3/4 a square bale of hay if no pasture is provided. Really you can pasture a cow on one acre if the grass quality is good, and then offer a flake or two of hay.

    So totals on feed w/ out pasture:
    365 bales of hay @ 2.50$900 for hay
    21 bags of grain per year at $12 a bag total $265
    Total for feed+ $1165 per year
    Add on vaccines, maybe $100 a year.
    Really I don't think it's worth it unless you have good pasture...
    Of course this is Maine pricing and your cost may vary... [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2007
  6. FamilyOfChickens

    FamilyOfChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 24, 2007
    Northwest Indiana
    Jersey- (smaller than holstein and fawn brown in color, usually solid but sometimes brown and white), a good milk producer, very smart and full of personality. Milk is higher in butterfat making it ideal for cheese and other dairy products

    If we did decide to get a cow or two, it'd probably be a Jersey. I researched them a bit, and I'm definetely interested.

    Now what about milking? How much of a hassle is it, really? And what about letting a cow go dry?

    Housing can be quite simple, as long as they can get out of the weather they do well. Hay cost can be expensive but on the bright side is that cattle can extract nutrients out almost anything, so as long as the hay is not moldy, you can still feed it. Here hay is about 2.50-3 a bale. Although you can get it cheaper straight from the field, for about $1.50 as in you go out in the field and pick-up and load the hay the farmer just baled. A milking cow needs grain, about 3lbs is average daily. Usually cost is about $12 for 50lbs of grain. They will eat about half to 3/4 a square bale of hay if no pasture is provided. Really you can pasture a cow on one acre if the grass quality is good, and then offer a flake or two of hay.

    So totals on feed w/ out pasture:
    365 bales of hay @ 2.50$900 for hay
    21 bags of grain per year at $12 a bag total $265
    Total for feed+ $1165 per year
    Add on vaccines, maybe $100 a year.
    Really I don't think it's worth it unless you have good pasture...
    Of course this is Maine pricing and your cost may vary...

    Thanks a lot for that!! I think hay is about that, here, too; maybe a little less. I'll look around some more, definetely.​
     
  7. Picco

    Picco Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 14, 2007
    NY
    Milking can be a hassle, especially if its done by hand. Most production breeds produce so much milk that your hands would be real tired by the time you were done. The best way to do it is to use a milking machine. A cow will have to be milked twice a day everyday and will have to be milked long enough to empty her udder, otherwise she will be uncomfortable and could get an infection. A good way for a backyarder to do it is to keep the cow's calf with her so the calf can milk her when you're not there. Even with a calf you should have enough milk for your family to use. Cows need to go dry for a while before having their next calf. The drying off period can be risky because if it is not done correctly your cow can get an infection. There are many drugs available as well as more natural methods that a vet or farmer could assist you with. Even if a cow has a calf with her keeping a milk cow is a serious commitment. You will have to care to the cow every day, twice a day, for the whole milking period. no vacations and no weekends off. I don't want to sound harsh but I just want you to know that its a bg responsibilty.
     
  8. FamilyOfChickens

    FamilyOfChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 24, 2007
    Northwest Indiana
    Quote:Definetely realize that. We've been talking quite a bit about that lately.
    Thanks. [​IMG]
     
  9. Country Gal

    Country Gal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 2, 2007
    Capac, MI
    Great info! DF is FINALLY warming up to the idea of getting a couple cows... these posts were a perfect starting point for research.

    Thanks!!!
     
  10. Country Gal

    Country Gal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 2, 2007
    Capac, MI
    And I meant to mention in my previous post... I saw an ad in our local paper selling feeder cows for $1.20/pound. Also, another friend of mine purchased (2) 2-day old calves at an auction this past winter for $75.00 each.
     

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