Nurse Cows

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by LeviS, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. LeviS

    LeviS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In my quest to become more self sufficient (and heck, just another excuse to have more animals)I've been interested in getting a dairy cow to keep for the sole purpose of buying pail calves for her to raise and to also still have the option to have fresh milk (just myself currently, so I can share with calves and these are troubled times and all) and to bring in some extra income. From what I've read it seems like its an almost full proof method of making a little income on the side, if you have the space and time to do so. I've been around beef cattle my entire life, only moved off of the family farm to my own farm two ish years ago. I really don't have much experience with dairy cattle other than helping neighbors milk a couple times a year or what not.

    The master plan currently is to have a cow, her calf, and an additional calf (or more, depending on if cow will have to much milk) and raise the calves till a certain time frame to sell or slaughter, and repeat.

    So my question is, does anyone on here do this? There just seems to be very little information on the process. I know with beef cattle, it can sometimes be very challenging to get a cow to take a calf that's not her own.

    What breeds would you recommend? From my research of having a family cow (due to lack of "nurse cow material" ) it seems that jerseys are probably the more all around accepting mothers. Confirm/Deny/Neutral? Plus they are kind of the breed I have my heart set on...those big brown eyes.... though I would settle for a brown swiss or Guernsey.

    How long do you keep the calves with the cow? How many times a year can give her new calves per lactation. I don't want to over work the poor girl, but would like to have one farm animal that helps with the bills a little.

    Getting calves shouldn't be a problem I shouldn't think, as there are a couple dairy farmers around that always have calves. Same with having to visit a bull since my parents have 4 of them just down the road.

    Any info and advice would be most welcome. I wont start REALLY looking and getting serious about getting one until next year when (hopefully) the inside of my barn will be complete). Planning on having a stall in there in addition to the other essentials like more chicken coops space/room, more goat pens, you know..that sort of thing.


    edit- had a lot to get out there, revise to a readable form :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  2. LeviS

    LeviS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nobody? Is there a major flaw that I'm missing here?
     
  3. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    I know Farmerboy16 keeps a few cows and milks them at home, you might PM him and see if he could give you some advice. A single cow will give a LOT of milk, and must be milked twice daily. You might consider a milk goat depending on how much milk you want (FB16 has goats too).
     
  4. LeviS

    LeviS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the reply! :). That's the brilliance of the plan! The milk isn't so much for myself to drink (except for maybe like a half gallon a week, if any at all), its to have 2-3 calves with the cow to drink it up...depending on how much milk she gives I suppose. So really its just like having beef cattle, the cow raises her calf and that's it. Just that with this situation she would be raising 2-3 calves only for a couple months.

    From what I understand and from my experience with my parents cattle, many cows don't readily take more calves unless you press the issue. Once they have drank mamas milk for a week and they start to smell like her, she may (or may not) become more accepting of the calf.

    I think I've figured out most of the process, but just lemme know what you think. This is going to be a big plunge and I just want to make sure I got all the details nailed out with a plan.

    ~ on the topic of dairy goats, once I find a local that does this, so that I can sample some goat milk (never had it before) AND if I can work out the twice a day milking to fit my schedule.
     
  5. farmchick897

    farmchick897 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a Jersey that I raised from a baby that just gave birth 3 weeks ago. I started milking her twice per day on top of leaving her bull calf on her and was getting too much milk (4+ gallons) so same idea as you I decided to get more calves. Got one more, she would not let him nurse. That was ok with me cause I prefer to milk her out and know how much each calf is getting (to prevent scours). People have told me you should save the placenta after birth and rub it on the new calf, or tie her and force it. Like I said, I didn't mind bottle feeding. Still too much milk, so went to get another calf and ended up buying 3. Total of 5 calves that need milk (so I would need 4 gallons per day from milking, 4 are on bottle). No problem she was producing that on top of nursing. Everything was going great UNTIL... She got sick. Milk production dropped to under a gallon per milking. She started pooping pure blood. She was rushed to vet where they were baffled on what was happening. This was two days ago.. I'm still hoping she is ok. I'm still milking and hope she recovers and I can pick up milk production again. Meanwhile I have 4 bottle calves I have to feed and buy milk replacer for. :/
    So, I think dairy cows are much for likely to get mastitis, ketosis, winter dysentery (this is what the vets think my cow had but Im not sure about that). I own a herd of beef cows and have never had problems but they also don't produce this much milk.
     
  6. LeviS

    LeviS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry to hear about that! I've never heard of anything like that.

    When you bottle feed the calves, how often do you feed them? It's been a long time since I've had to do that.
     
  7. farmchick897

    farmchick897 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They get fed 2x per day 1/2 gallon each feeding. I milk the Jersey and pour directly into bottles. If I wanted some for family I would just make up a bottle of milk replacer or add the goat milk to the bottles. I milk two goats too, they are only giving me 1/2 gallon per day 1 milking in morning only.
    I didn't realize how difficult it can all be and if not for a really good friend of mine who had mentored me through it all I might have given up. The first time freshening they have a lot of edema, which I thought was extra milk.. Then she wouldn't let down for me. Then she had to be trained to the stanchion but she didn't want to leave her baby. When she is swollen and hurts she didn't want to be touched and although never kicked to hurt me she would try and stomp my hand away from her udder. I'm lucky to have a milk machine too otherwise I have no idea how I would have done it. So... Will I make money off the calves? Absolutely, even if I have to buy milk replacer because I have the pasture and hay to raise them until 600-800 lbs. It's a lot of work though don't let anyone tell you different. :)
     
  8. cassie

    cassie Overrun With Chickens

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    Most people feed bottle calves twice a day. As for the sick cow, I have been around dairy cows all my life and I have never seen anything like that. Hope she gets better. By the way, some cows are willing to adopt any calf and some are not.
     
  9. cgmccary

    cgmccary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    IMHO, this might work with a couple of calves but more than that would be too much on the cow (the nursing itself, not the amount of milk available). I have a Dexter cow, a bull. My cow has a calf now (born late May & still nursing). If not taken away, it will nurse until the cow kicks it off. The cow kicks it off sooner if she gets pregnant and on along (i.e. when the calf is taking too much from her).

    When my Dexter cow was a 10-11 month old heifer, she would run around stealing younger calf's milk from their mothers (after her Angus mother kicked her off). The lady I purchased her from, called and said, come get your heifer because she is not leaving any milk for the calves --

    also, don't think you want your cow to be nursed dry -- this is not good for them.

    When we want milk, we separate the calf from the cow for at least 12 hours. Sometimes, when the cow is choosing not to let us get much milk, we will separate her for 24 hours. This makes her mad and more difficult to deal with. Cows have different personalities; ours was not raised on a bottle but she has tamed over time.

    Pound for pound, the Dexter cow gives as much milk as any breed. Yes, calves are bottle fed twice per day. Bottle feeding makes them tame and makes a heifer a better (easier) milk cow.
     
  10. LeviS

    LeviS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So a bottle in the morning, say, 5 and a bottle and night, say 6, would be ok. Because if lets say if I were to get a cow, and she just downright refused another calf, that's about what my schedule would look like. Hopefully stars would align and I could find a young cow that was already used to this kind of thing. It would of course be the optimal situation if she would take additional calves and that they would all be around the same size, so as nobody would get to aggressive; that way she could be in my smaller pasture during the day.
     

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