Weaning Nurse Cow calves

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

Post by ikorthanke » Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:15 am

Hello Everyone,
I am looking for information on weaning nurse cow calves. I am interested in buying some retired Jersey cows from a local dairy and have some questions about running a nurse cow operation.

1. Is it better to buy an old fresh retired cow or get a young heifer?

2. Alot of people say you can wean the calves at 3 months and then run another set of calves behind them a total of three times. Then let the nurse cow dry up for her upcoming calf. When weaning the calves at three months, what type of feed should you start the calves on at weaning? Protein %? Percent of body weight? How heavy will jersey/limousin calves be at 3 months? Is it better to sell the calves as weaned at three months or add some weight and sell them at the typical 205 day mark?

3. When I begin to wean my first and second group of calves, should I lower the amount of grain I am giving my nurse cow so that the new group of calves don't over eat and get scours? I've read that the first couple weeks on the new group can be the most crucial.

4. Anyone have any experience with Jersey/Limousin cross. I know Wulf Genetics boast about there bulls grading high percentage choice and yield when crossed to a Jersey. If I have good luck I plan on setting up a deal with the Jersey dairy to breed their least desirable jersey producing cows with my limousin semen so that I have a steady supply of jersey/limousin calves when I want them.


5. What are the most nursing cows anyone has had at one time? I plan on starting with one and then working my way up to 10. Weaning 8 calves a year per cow, with a total of 70 calves purchased, 10 breed and raised.

Isaiah Korthanke

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Re: Weaning Nurse Cow calves

Post by backhoeboogie » Mon Dec 07, 2015 10:53 am

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Re: Weaning Nurse Cow calves

Post by farmerjan » Sat Sep 10, 2016 9:35 pm

Saw this post and wondered how you are doing with the jersey nurse cows. I have had as many as 4 nurse cows calve at the same time and have had as many as 7 total but it was a juggling act with not enough barn space. Don't have a preference with older cows or heifers, except that 1st lactation heifers cannot usually raise as many calves . What I did; cow calves, got her in, got her calf and 2 or 3 more on her IF she is in a stanchion/headlock eating grain &/or hay. Let her out and keep calves in. Bring her in to the calves for two weeks or so, make sure they are all eating okay and not scouring. Then let them out with her in a fairly smaller pasture for 12 hours or so, so you can make sure she is treating them all equally. If all goes well they will nurse when they want/she lets them. I used to raise an average of 7-8 per lactation. When the calves are getting up to the 8-10 weeks, pen them in and bring her in and start a new calves on her for a few minutes then let the other calves in to finish her up. The new calves don't get too much and they will get the idea of going right for the cow and "fight" for the teat. And as the new calves get adjusted to the milk the older calves are getting less and should be eating more grain. Usually I would leave her own calf with her as the younger ones got the idea..she was often more tolerant out in the pasture if her own ran up to eat the others would learn to do the same. Then as they got older I would do the same slow change over with the last 2 she would get before drying her up. Thing is, you are dealing with individual cow personalities and not all will tolerate other calves and some will let anything suck anywhere.
I tried to do 3 - 3- 2 calves on good milkers. It is alot of work to get them established. If you are just going to be bringing them in to the calves every day then it is a little easier. I usually have 2 to a pen and they get 6-8 calves, and once the calves are established, they will go on either cow while she is occupied eating. I've gotten to where I only raise one batch of 3 or sometimes 4 calves on a cow now, let them run with her once they are doing good and they will weigh in at 400 lbs each at 7-10 months old. I will creep feed a little grain so they will come into the pen when I want them, but only 1-2 lbs per calf at a feeding, once a day. Once the calves are 3-4 months I stop supplementing the cows with grain and they get only good pasture in the summer. Winters i feed some grain and good hay. A jersey calf at 3 months is only going to weigh 200 - 250 at best, so the beef cross will be a little more but the fineness of the jersey will keep the weight down at 3 months. Let's face it they weigh 40-60 lbs at birth compared to a beef calf in the 75-90 lb range that will wean at 4-500 at 7 months. Mostly I would get holstein and jersey bull calves. Few people breed to beef around here and the calves are in great demand for beef farmers that maybe had a cow lose a calf.
All according to where you are as to the best way to market the weaned calves. Anything showing any dairy in them will get discounted quite a bit here , and there are a few people who are looking for jersey steers for beef so I try to raise them and sell them in the 350-400 lb range. There are some farmers that raise holstein steers so the market is okay for them around here. Right now the market is way off and it doesn't look good for awhile so for me, 3 or 4 nice big calves weaned per year is great.

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