Genetics

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

Postby kdougl » Thu Nov 29, 2007 5:56 pm

My neighbor and I have each been raising a few calves per year and sharing our pasture with each other.
We live close to a Dairy and we buy day-old bull calves from them.
I usually bottle feed mine, but my neighbor has a cow which is one half holstien and one half Angus. Every year when his cow freshens, he buys two or three additional new-born calves and his cow produces enough milk for all of them.
His way is much less work then mine.
I kind of wanted to try my hand at a cow/calf operation, so this year I traded one of my holstien steers for a heifer out of his cow.
So my heifer is one quarter holstein and three quarters angus.
I have already had her bred and she should have her first calf next June. My question is, do you think that a 1/4 holstein cow could produce enough milk to nurse multiple calves the way my neighbors cow (which is 1/2 holstien) does?
Thanks in advance.
Doug.
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bigbull338
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Postby bigbull338 » Thu Nov 29, 2007 6:23 pm

yes she should have enough milk for an extra calf or 2.but her being a 1st calf heifer she may not.youll just have to wait an see when she calves.she should be a good cow.
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Postby hgfarmer » Thu Nov 29, 2007 6:34 pm

She wont her first year, but maybe after that. Here is my advise for you though, you are going to have to feed this cow just as much as you would a Jersey, and the jersey can raise 10 calves a year where the 1/4 holstein will raise 2.... think about it! we have some jersey nurse cows and they do a great job! I know jerseys are expensive but they pay for themselves very quickly.
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Postby rkm » Thu Nov 29, 2007 7:31 pm

I don't think a jersey cow on grass can raise 10 500 lb calves per year. jmo
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bigbull338
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Postby bigbull338 » Thu Nov 29, 2007 7:38 pm

i think he is talking bout changing suck calves every 2 months.if thats the case she could raise 10 calves a year.but youd have to pour the feed to her.an get the calves eating feed as soon as possable.
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milkmaid
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Postby milkmaid » Thu Nov 29, 2007 7:51 pm

Theoretically a good nurse cow could raise 20 calves a year, put on in sets of 4, switched every 2 months, and given 2 months off as a dry cow before she calves again.

I'd say a 3/4 angus cow could probably raise 2 calves her first year. The Angus crosses I've seen have had a tendency to drop in milk production after about 5-6 months in milk. Normal for a beef animal, not good for a dairy animal or nurse cow. So I'd figure on switching sets of calves after 3 months, and only getting 2 sets out of her the first year. 2nd year may be a different story. Hard to say, depends on the individual animal.

If you wanted a decent Holstein nurse cow I could prolly put you in touch with someone who has one that could take 4 calves at a time. Maybe even a cow I've borrowed once if the fellow still has her.
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Postby hgfarmer » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:49 pm

Thank you BB and MM, we do rotate the calves off at about 4 months. We raise beef steers on them and they do great at the sale barn! Milk Maid, do you buy dairy culls as your nurse cows?
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Postby bigbull338 » Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:00 am

im not MM but i can answer for her.yes she buys dairy culls for nurse cows.but i dont think she gets them from the sale barn.
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Postby milkmaid » Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:03 am

They're culls, yes, but not from the sale ring. I get them direct from the dairy and they're generally cows I've worked with for a long time and know their history. I select my nurse cows pretty carefully.
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Postby kdougl » Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:18 am

Thanks everyone for the replies.

I've actually been thinking that I would like to get a good nurse cow and abandon my bottle feeding operation.
My neighbor's nursed calves, which were born the same day as my bottle fed calves are significantly bigger then mine and just appear to be healthier.

That's one of the reasons I bought this heifer in the first place. Of course I realize that being 3/4 angus, she is not going to be able to handle more then 2 or 3 calves a year but I thought it might be a start. Unfortunatley, she is just plain mean and ornery. I would be very suprised if she accepted any calf other then her own. And since she doesn't let me get very close to her, tying her up twice a day so her adopted calf can suck will be a LOT of work.

I'm thinking that maybe selling my heifer and getting a dairy cow is the way to go. Of course I would like to get as much information as possible before I make a decision, so I would appreciate any help I could get.

First of all, in your opinions, which make the better nurse cow, holstiens or jerseys, and why?

Here are some of the pros and cons as I see it. I would appreciate your comments.

I live next to a dairy which I could probably pick up a retired holstien milk cow, although he refuses to sell any of his newborn heifers. Also MM has offered to put me in touch with someone here which I might be able to get a holstien from.
If I wanted a Jersey I would have a harder time finding one.

I heard that Jerseys are more gentle then holstiens and are more likely to accept adopted calves. (true or false?)
I know this largely depends on the individual cow, but in general, is one breed easier to put adopted calves on?

Jerseys are smaller so they eat less and are less intimidating to my young children.

All of the bulls that I have access to are Black Angus, so unless I bought my own bull or started doing AI (neither of which I want to do) all of my nurse cow's "biological" calves would be 1/2 angus. Seems to work well with Holstiens, but since Jerseys are so much smaller, is it dangerous for them to deliver the larger Angus calves?

I'm sure I'll have more, but this post is getting too long.
Thanks in advance.

Doug
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Postby rkm » Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:06 pm

I don't think you would have a problem crossing a jersey cow to a angus bull. I have done it many times without a problem.

If you decide to go with a hol. you don't need a huge 1700 lb cow. A 1300 lb will do just fine.
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Postby milkmaid » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:20 pm

No experience with Jersey nurse cows, but I've had some really good Holstein nurse cows. I've had some that never offered to kick and would accept any calf instantly... doesn't get much better than that.

Your angus heifer could be taught to accept calves; I've grafted calves onto some pretty neurotic cows and there's no requirement that the cow be tame. However, it's worth mentioning that I put the calves on the cow and leave them together 24/7, so I don't have to mess with the cow 2x/day. The way I do it is essentially like running a beef cow, except that the cow has four calves instead of one. I kick the whole crew out to pasture and put grain out once or twice a day.

I personally prefer to stick with Holsteins, if only for the reason that salvage value in the end is higher. :P But it's a personal preference. Some folks prefer the Jerseys or Jersey crosses.
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Postby kdougl » Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:18 pm

milkmaid wrote:Your angus heifer could be taught to accept calves; I've grafted calves onto some pretty neurotic cows and there's no requirement that the cow be tame. However, it's worth mentioning that I put the calves on the cow and leave them together 24/7, so I don't have to mess with the cow 2x/day. The way I do it is essentially like running a beef cow, except that the cow has four calves instead of one. I kick the whole crew out to pasture and put grain out once or twice a day.


I think I accidently misled you.
I didn't mean that I planned on only putting them together for twice a day feedings. I intend to leave them together 24/7 just like you do. (I really don't have time for anything else).
However, my experience helping my neighbor getting calves started with his cow, she will not stand still and let the adopted calves nurse. She runs away or else head butts them away from her. For the first week or two, we have to tie her up and force her to stand still so the calves can nurse. She does stand still for her own calf so eventually the adopted calves learn that that is the time to jump in. But it takes some time and patience before they get strong enough to fight for their milk. Within a couple weeks all is well, but then the next year we go through it all again.
Since my heifer is a bit wild, if she doesn't want to hold still and let the adopted calves nurse, it will be very difficult for me to force her to.

I've thought about just keeping her in addition to a nurse cow, just so I will have an angus calf to sell every year, along with the holstien steers (they usually sell for quite a bit more), but my pasture is limited and it might not be worth my while to feed a cow year round for a single calf.
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Postby milkmaid » Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:29 pm

I think you've got the right idea. Considering your situation that heifer sounds like she probably won't fit into your operation. :P

I've had cows like the ones your neighbor has... not ideal and I don't like them anymore than you do. If you want something that'll cooperate and stand quietly, I'm certain I can find one for you if you're interested in going the Holstein route.
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Basics needed to answer questions: age, weight, breed, sex. # affected vs # in group, feed type/amount, prior vaccinations, deworming, antibiotics, any recent changes....

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Postby hgfarmer » Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:20 pm

kdougl, mm is right, your heading in the right direction. I can speak on the jerseys behalf, the do make great nurse cows, but so do holsteins and brow-swiss. so really it what ever is readily available to you, and things like that. If you want the beef calves, just go to the sale barn and get a few calves split from momma. thats all we raise. buy little bulls, steer them and keep going. MM, i wish i lived near you. Dairy culls are very hard to find around here. people are literaly milking their cows too death.
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