what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

For the dairy folks and/or beef folks with questions about udders, milk and mastitis.

what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Ayrshire
2
6%
Brown Swiss
6
18%
Dairy Shorthorn
2
6%
Guernsey
2
6%
Holstein
9
26%
Jersey
13
38%
 
Total votes: 34

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regolith
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby regolith » Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:35 am

I have often heard the argument that Jerseys have higher components. Problem is the percentages are higher but the actual pounds of BF and protein are almost always lower than a Holstein. I get paid for pounds of BF and pounds of protein.


We do get paid on components here.
The main argument for Jersey is when you calculate your profit on feed in - milk out, not on number of cows. I can run 4 Jerseys for every 3 Holstein Friesians. There's some increase in costs due to the extra number of individual cows but the feed input is linked to the total weight of livestock. On the same feed (grazed grass) I could have 4 Jerseys doing 350 kg MS or 3 Holstein Friesians doing 450 kg MS (I'll let you work it out). Jerseys are more efficient feed converters. The lower protein:fat ratio of Jersey is the main drawback under our payment system.

I like longevity. Somatic cells often are higher in older cows but it's not a rule - some cows have 'em, some seem to keep them low as they age. I've been told by other farmers that production starts to drop gradually after about age ten but heck, she owes you nothing at that age and probably still producing more than the 2 yr old you'd replace her with.

Productive life on average is held back by heifers that breed once and never again, in this country at any rate. I've almost got to the stage of rolling my eyes at any farmer who tells me what steps they are taking to help their milking heifers breed back. My heifers don't have any more trouble with weight maintenance or breeding back than the older cows. My policy: breed 'em to a Jersey bull for easy calving, grow them well from day one so they arrive in the herd at their full potential weight at 22 months old (I have a good grazier who does most of that for me) - that's it. There's still farmers running big bulls with heifers and pulling calves and wondering why half of them don't breed back, likewise the ones who think they can bring them into the herd at a low condition score and expect them to cycle on schedule.
So when you see it written that an average cow only does three or four seasons, remember that statistic is influenced by the many 2 yr olds who calve once and never again. Of course, some heifers do turn out otherwise unsuitable and get culled young also - temperament, bad udders or mastitis, low production, sickness, BVD PIs.
The oldest cows in herds I've worked with are in their early to mid-teens, after the age of ten there's not that many left. Under US conditions they don't seem to last as long (Should I refrain from knocking the Holstein breed which *is* more susceptible to many ailments than the less highly bred cattle or Jerseys?).
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby TexasBred » Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:35 am

You're not knocking holsteins as much as showing the extreme stress most US herds live under. They're pushed much harder for maximum milk over here. On a personal note, I hate jersey cattle. I do love the jersey/holstein cross tho. I seldom had to cull a cow for not breeding back. More often than not it was always related to the feet. You probably can't find a cow in this state that is in her teens and milking daily.....even 7-8 years old for that matter. The attrition level is huge. Most cull anywhere from 30% up every year.
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby gerben77 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 8:37 am

I milk some crossbreds in Holland (europe)...Fleckvieh* HF
(better body condition (more muscle), higher protoin, lower cellcount

Started crossbreeding.........from 100 % pure breb HF to......HF* Fleckvieh > F1 * to swedish red = F2
F2 * holstein = F3

Some examples
Image
Image
Image

Youngstock
Image

Image
50 % swedish red * 25 % Fleckvieh * 25 % HF
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby hillbilly1234 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:50 pm

jersey we had a dairy farm for 10 years and milked jersey and a few holstein. the jerseys were easy to handle and they are just so cute
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby VanC » Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:27 pm

gerben77 wrote:I milk some crossbreds in Holland (europe)...Fleckvieh* HF
(better body condition (more muscle), higher protoin, lower cellcount

Started crossbreeding.........from 100 % pure breb HF to......HF* Fleckvieh > F1 * to swedish red = F2
F2 * holstein = F3

Some examples
Image
Image
Image

Youngstock
Image

Image
50 % swedish red * 25 % Fleckvieh * 25 % HF


Good looking cattle. Dairy crossbreeding is starting to catch on some here in the U.S. but slowly. I don't know why there is so much resistance in some quarters. Seems to me the same priciples would apply to dairy as beef. There are so many other factors that go into making a profitable cow than just production. European dairy producers seem to understand this more than we do here in the U.S.
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby TexasBred » Sun Jan 30, 2011 9:08 pm

Van there are few things you can breed for other than production but most are not consistent nor that profitable. A cow that gives 130 lbs. of milk a day does eat a lot of feed but also is probably the most also the most effective in feed conversion and may still be giving 70 lbs. when you have to dry her off. You can also feed for higher milk solids. Some are worth the time, money and effort...some not. Typically here in the US you get paid for lbs. of milk, lbs. of protein and lbs. of milk protein along with some other small payments for "other solids" and low somatic cell count. Out of Milk production, butterfat production and protein production I always seemed to be able to get 2 out of 3 but never all three in superior numbers. Like everyone else I bred and fed for high production. I knew I would get paid for that. I could manipulate butterfat fairly easy with feed and get that premium, but protein was usually just a wash or possibly a deduction. The prices for these components also fluctuate considerably and usually bottom out about the time of the year that you begin to get better butterfat and protein production. ....And you have to accept the lab results of the coop for BF and protein without question.

Jersey cattle...very high butterfat and protein but low milk production compared to holsteins and the cost of the cow is usually considerably less. In short..If I were still milking I'd still want maximum milk and butterfat production.

I would compare dairy farming more to row crop farming (many dairymen also row crop) than beef cow operations. First off you don't find anybody dairying as a hobby. You have a very few people trying to produce enough product for a huge number of people while complying with volumes of regulation and all the advocacy groups trying to shut them down.
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby novaman » Sun Jan 30, 2011 9:50 pm

VanC wrote:Good looking cattle. Dairy crossbreeding is starting to catch on some here in the U.S. but slowly. I don't know why there is so much resistance in some quarters. Seems to me the same priciples would apply to dairy as beef. There are so many other factors that go into making a profitable cow than just production. European dairy producers seem to understand this more than we do here in the U.S.

I am probably biased since I run only Holsteins, but what would be the point of crossbreeding when you are already running the breed which gives you the highest gross income? I would argue that profit and production have connections, especially with feed prices where they are (high production + high feed prices + higher DMI = small margin ; average production + high feed prices + moderate DMI = small margin but with less cash flow to cover bills). I am breeding for better udders, better feet, better fertility, etc. etc. all while staying with a purebred Holstein animal. All the advertising I have seen for crossbreeding are bragging up udders, SCC, feet and fertility. Yes all of those aspects are important in making a cow that will be profitable, but at the end of they day you need to put milk in the tank to survive until tomorrow. I feel there is nothing to be gained by crossbreeding that I cannot achieve by staying straight Holstein.
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby VanC » Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:49 pm

Thanks for the answers, novaman and TB. I will humbly bow to the voices of experience. Fact is I got caught up in the hype on a couple of websites. I should know better.
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby TexasBred » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:23 pm

VanC wrote:Thanks for the answers, novaman and TB. I will humbly bow to the voices of experience. Fact is I got caught up in the hype on a couple of websites. I should know better.

Van like so many things there is no perfect answer. Different folks have different preferences and they make it work. Got a good friend with an all jersey dairy. Wouldn't have anything else. I can show him dozens of ways to improve his operation. He can give a dozen reasons to not change a thing. ;-)
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby regolith » Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:26 am

Crossbreeding is huge out here. Holstein-Friesian is most popular breed, followed by crossbred, followed by Jersey.

The HFxJ mix and resulting hybrid vigour does exactly what is needed in our seasonal, grass only dairying systems. I've read that NZ dairy cattle are at the 'strength' extreme and US at the 'dairy' extreme with Aus somewhere in the middle. Under our conditions the same arguments that are made for crossbreeding beef cattle hold true.

I couldn't count how many times older people have told me the crossbred is a great cow but where do you go after that first cross?
Funnily enough, my experience is that the second cross - 3/4 of either Jersey or Holstein Friesian - make real good cows though the hybrid vigour advantage is less. The big issue if you want to maintain hybrid vigour is what third breed will complement the other two? With the BW indexing system in NZ, nearly all other breeds or overseas sires will drop the indexes to the point that the cow has no resale value - idiotic, but that's how it is.

There's the potential for calving difficulty in a crossbred cow - all well and good if she inherits Holstein size and Jersey-type pelvis; if she goes the other way she might not be able to safely breed back to a Holstein.
I did some 3-way crosses to Ayrshire, Shorthorn and Brown Swiss last year but didn't get most of the calves as the cows had to be leased out when I lost my contract. I'm planning using the Shorthorn bull again - saw two very nice calves on one of the farms my cows were leased to.
Those Fleckvieh crosses would probably do great out here, but a bit over-sized for some of the dairies and, as TB comments, my preference. I got to working with 900lb cows and decided that was the easy life.
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby Nesikep » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:03 pm

One of our neighbors just got 2 jersey cows, both will have PB jersey calves this year, but they were wondering wether breeding to Gelbveih would be safe for the cows (both are 4 years old)... I imagine that cross could make some really decent steer calves, and probably an acceptable heifer that could be milked, though I'm sure the production wouldn't be that of a pure jersey
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby novaman » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:18 pm

Nesikep wrote:One of our neighbors just got 2 jersey cows, both will have PB jersey calves this year, but they were wondering wether breeding to Gelbveih would be safe for the cows (both are 4 years old)... I imagine that cross could make some really decent steer calves, and probably an acceptable heifer that could be milked, though I'm sure the production wouldn't be that of a pure jersey

Any reason why they want to go Gelbvieh?
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby bigbluegrass » Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:25 pm

My vote was for Jersey. I have never milked in a commercial dairy. My experience is all with a family milk cow. My Dad milked a few Holsteins and they were OK. I think he overfed them on grain (10# a day). We had a lot of health problems with them and were lucky to get 5 or 6 years out of a milk cow. It seemed like every year something would happen. Milk fever, bloat, major mastitis, so forth and so on. We were getting a new cow every couple years and breaking her in. Just more work that I like to do. I milk a few Jersey cows and so far (knock on wood) have never had any problems. I don't feed them much grain (2# to 4# a day) and I make them milk on mostly grass and hay. I think I have had 3 cases of mastitis over the years. They breed back so fast and easy. I really think the one cow would calve every 10 months if I let her. She will cycle 14 days after calving every year. She is just a nice little cow - easy keeping for a milk cow. The Jerseys don't milk as heavy, but they do give more cream and butter. I think they give more butter in terms of volume than the Holsteins I was around, but that is my personal experience. I can't speak for the entire breed as a whole. If I remember right my Mom would save cream for a whole week to get a gallon, but with these Jerseys I can get a gallon of cream in two to three days from each cow. I guess I will see as time goes by. Who knows, I may change my mind in a few years. Just my preference. I guess that is why there are so many different breeds of cattle out there.
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby TexasBred » Fri Feb 18, 2011 2:04 pm

Correct.....the jersey cattle do have higher butterfat and protein than holsteins, however, the holstein will produce much more milk. Don't know why you had the problems with the holsteins on the home place. Cattle kept for family milk needs are seldom under enough pressure to cause problems. Anytime you have mastitis in one of them I'd think it was probably your fault for not doing quite as good a job of cleaning the teat before and after milking. Glad you're enjoying the jerseys. My experience with them commercially has not been that good but that's another story. ;-)
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Re: what is your favorite dairy breed, and why?

Postby bigbluegrass » Fri Feb 18, 2011 2:31 pm

TB Could have easily been our fault with the mastitis. Those holsteins weren't much fun to milk, which didn't make it any easier to do a good job. They sure got it easy though. I know it has a lot to do with managment. My Jerseys don't hardly ever get it or at least not as easily. But once again, different managment here. I am a lot more careful milking my cows than I was milking Dads cows :lol: I had the one jersey when she came fresh with her first calf had mastitis right from the start in one quarter. I have never seen that before, but I am not a dairy man either. It just seemed odd since I thougth they always got that from not being milked properly. In her case, she has never been milked so it couldn't have been that. Maybe her udder got bruised from a bigger cow pushing her around? I dunno. :dunce:
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