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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.
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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.