New to dairy

For the dairy folks and/or beef folks with questions about udders, milk and mastitis.
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M Gravlee
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Re: New to dairy

Postby M Gravlee » Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:37 am

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Re: New to dairy

Postby GMN » Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:18 pm

tncattle wrote:I've been volunteering with a family friend for almost a year now helping him whenever I can with his 200 Angus cattle. I've read a lot about the dairy cattle business and am really interested. I've already contacted a few local dairy farmers and am going to try and work PT for one in the summer(I'm a teacher). What should I expect? We (wife, two little ones and third on way) are considering the lifestyle change and she would keep her job that allows her to work from home 99% of her time. I'm more interested in the dairy business because it seems to be a year round market and I realize the huge commitment it takes. I'm just skeptical if $ can really be made for a modest profit?


Thats a tough one. Milking cows would definetely be a lifestyle change. If you and your family like to go on vacations, have time off, sick days, etc.. you might want to reconsider dairying, because it is a 365 day job. If you are lucky maybe you can get a day off here and there, but I know I haven't had a day off in about 9 years at least maybe more. We started from scratch thinking the farm could support the family, but no way can it, unless you have no bills, there has to be a good outside income to cover the times when milk prices are low, and cows are dry, etc.. The financial part of it can be very stressful, especially now as things are so expensive.

On the other hand though, I do like it, because it is a family affair, its not just a job, its a way of life. The kids grow up so differently when they are raised on a farm, my boys don't play video games all day, or have cell phones or computers, they work outside with us, and do there own chores, etc...They have good common sense and will be able to handle whatever life throws there way.

Maybe if you could find a farmer wanting to retire from milking and take over his operation might be a good way to get into dairying.

Good luck in whatever you do.

GMN
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Re: New to dairy

Postby tncattle » Sun Feb 03, 2008 6:09 pm

Visited my first dairy today and I loved it. I grew up about 8 miles from this dairy and never really knew it was there. It is the last one left in Davidson county Tn. the county that is Nashville Tn. I'm just hoping they will let me volunteer to help/work and learn as much as I can there. I'll keep y'all posted.
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Re: New to dairy

Postby simangus23 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:16 am

dear New To Dairy-----
I currently run 400 Jersey's and getting into the dairy business is quite an investment these days. It can be done and the type of cattle you run is solely a personal choice as far as I am concerned. I like Jersey because they are smaller framed cows eat less and they are much cheaper to feed than your avg Holstein. JMS would be the best place for you to get info about becoming a dairyman if indeed Jersey's were your cup of tea. Equipment is expensive cattle care is forever ongoing and you never ever get a day off, unless you have someone to give you some relief. For 400 dairy cows/ currently milking about 260 I have 1 hired man. We work constantly and never seem to get done-- like now I am in the parlor and milking will begin in 15 minutes. Long days longer nights and we farm too and have 700 head of beef cows. I do have 4 more guys that do that work. I am biased I guess, but really think Beef cattle are pretty simple compared to dairy cattle as the investment of your time is much less.
If all we had to do is milk and feed it would be ok, but with calves to raise and heifers to grow out time is just not on our side.
I can tell ya this much--- there are many dairymen like me that are willing to pay someone to raise heifers from about 5 months to freshening. That could help you get into the business too if you have the time. Just a thought.

Sim
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Re: New to dairy

Postby Jovid » Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:00 am

simangus23 wrote:dear New To Dairy-----
I currently run 400 Jersey's and getting into the dairy business is quite an investment these days. It can be done and the type of cattle you run is solely a personal choice as far as I am concerned. I like Jersey because they are smaller framed cows eat less and they are much cheaper to feed than your avg Holstein. JMS would be the best place for you to get info about becoming a dairyman if indeed Jersey's were your cup of tea. Equipment is expensive cattle care is forever ongoing and you never ever get a day off, unless you have someone to give you some relief. For 400 dairy cows/ currently milking about 260 I have 1 hired man. We work constantly and never seem to get done-- like now I am in the parlor and milking will begin in 15 minutes. Long days longer nights and we farm too and have 700 head of beef cows. I do have 4 more guys that do that work. I am biased I guess, but really think Beef cattle are pretty simple compared to dairy cattle as the investment of your time is much less.
If all we had to do is milk and feed it would be ok, but with calves to raise and heifers to grow out time is just not on our side.
I can tell ya this much--- there are many dairymen like me that are willing to pay someone to raise heifers from about 5 months to freshening. That could help you get into the business too if you have the time. Just a thought.

Sim


Sim

You forgot to mention your feedlot, packing plant, vet business, animal nutrition business, and part time professor. At least that's what you have indicated on the other threads. :lol2: :lol2:
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Re: New to dairy

Postby tncattle » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:33 pm

simangus23 wrote:dear New To Dairy-----
I currently run 400 Jersey's and getting into the dairy business is quite an investment these days. It can be done and the type of cattle you run is solely a personal choice as far as I am concerned. I like Jersey because they are smaller framed cows eat less and they are much cheaper to feed than your avg Holstein. JMS would be the best place for you to get info about becoming a dairyman if indeed Jersey's were your cup of tea. Equipment is expensive cattle care is forever ongoing and you never ever get a day off, unless you have someone to give you some relief. For 400 dairy cows/ currently milking about 260 I have 1 hired man. We work constantly and never seem to get done-- like now I am in the parlor and milking will begin in 15 minutes. Long days longer nights and we farm too and have 700 head of beef cows. I do have 4 more guys that do that work. I am biased I guess, but really think Beef cattle are pretty simple compared to dairy cattle as the investment of your time is much less.
If all we had to do is milk and feed it would be ok, but with calves to raise and heifers to grow out time is just not on our side.
I can tell ya this much--- there are many dairymen like me that are willing to pay someone to raise heifers from about 5 months to freshening. That could help you get into the business too if you have the time. Just a thought.

Sim


Thanks for the reply. I have often thought that about Jerseys also, they probably don't eat as much as Holsteins but then probably don't produce as much either. Although they usually produce a higher fat content, right? Can that offset the lack of volume that you would normally get from a Holstein in dollars? What is JMS? Obviously something to do with Jersey cows. When you say "raise heifers from about 5 months to freshening" what age is freshening and what all does that involve besides caring for and feeding them?
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Re: New to dairy

Postby VanC » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:56 pm

Jovid wrote:
simangus23 wrote:dear New To Dairy-----
I currently run 400 Jersey's and getting into the dairy business is quite an investment these days. It can be done and the type of cattle you run is solely a personal choice as far as I am concerned. I like Jersey because they are smaller framed cows eat less and they are much cheaper to feed than your avg Holstein. JMS would be the best place for you to get info about becoming a dairyman if indeed Jersey's were your cup of tea. Equipment is expensive cattle care is forever ongoing and you never ever get a day off, unless you have someone to give you some relief. For 400 dairy cows/ currently milking about 260 I have 1 hired man. We work constantly and never seem to get done-- like now I am in the parlor and milking will begin in 15 minutes. Long days longer nights and we farm too and have 700 head of beef cows. I do have 4 more guys that do that work. I am biased I guess, but really think Beef cattle are pretty simple compared to dairy cattle as the investment of your time is much less.
If all we had to do is milk and feed it would be ok, but with calves to raise and heifers to grow out time is just not on our side.
I can tell ya this much--- there are many dairymen like me that are willing to pay someone to raise heifers from about 5 months to freshening. That could help you get into the business too if you have the time. Just a thought.

Sim


Sim

You forgot to mention your feedlot, packing plant, vet business, animal nutrition business, and part time professor. At least that's what you have indicated on the other threads. :lol2: :lol2:


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When first we practise to deceive!
Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.
Scottish author & novelist (1771 - 1832)
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Re: New to dairy

Postby TexasBred » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:41 pm

tncattle wrote:
simangus23 wrote:dear New To Dairy-----
I currently run 400 Jersey's and getting into the dairy business is quite an investment these days. It can be done and the type of cattle you run is solely a personal choice as far as I am concerned. I like Jersey because they are smaller framed cows eat less and they are much cheaper to feed than your avg Holstein. JMS would be the best place for you to get info about becoming a dairyman if indeed Jersey's were your cup of tea. Equipment is expensive cattle care is forever ongoing and you never ever get a day off, unless you have someone to give you some relief. For 400 dairy cows/ currently milking about 260 I have 1 hired man. We work constantly and never seem to get done-- like now I am in the parlor and milking will begin in 15 minutes. Long days longer nights and we farm too and have 700 head of beef cows. I do have 4 more guys that do that work. I am biased I guess, but really think Beef cattle are pretty simple compared to dairy cattle as the investment of your time is much less.
If all we had to do is milk and feed it would be ok, but with calves to raise and heifers to grow out time is just not on our side.
I can tell ya this much--- there are many dairymen like me that are willing to pay someone to raise heifers from about 5 months to freshening. That could help you get into the business too if you have the time. Just a thought.

Sim


Thanks for the reply. I have often thought that about Jerseys also, they probably don't eat as much as Holsteins but then probably don't produce as much either. Although they usually produce a higher fat content, right? Can that offset the lack of volume that you would normally get from a Holstein in dollars? What is JMS? Obviously something to do with Jersey cows. When you say "raise heifers from about 5 months to freshening" what age is freshening and what all does that involve besides caring for and feeding them?


Tn....get you some holsteins. You'll starve to death trying to dairy with all jerseys. Not to say it won't work but much better chance for survival with holsteins. Your best money comes from milk production. Jersey's don't have it. Although they have high milk butterfat and protein, you are never guaranteed a high premium for either on your check and during periods when you run a high butterfat, that is the time the milk coop will cut the price for butterfat. A few jerseys or jersey/holstein crosses mixed in won't hurt but I wouldn't want 400 of those little devils out there. Now this is just personal opinion. I'm sure those jersey folks love their jerseys too or they wouldn't own them.
I have a friend tha milks over 100 brahman/holstein crosses...best of both worlds. Pretty darn good production, high butterfat and protein and the don't fall off in production as much in the heat. Plus after about 3 lactations he'll sell them as a $1200 pair at the beef cow sale rather than the $400 packer price he'll get for a holstein.
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Re: New to dairy

Postby tncattle » Fri Feb 08, 2008 4:28 pm

Approach it like a part-time boy working after school. Let the dairy owner know what your plans are and then start with the hardest most menial tasks on the place...learn to do them well. Then learn to milk and learn it well. Learn your cows. They all are spotted (if holstein) but everyone is different. Then start moving up to the next level all the time absorbing every little tip the dairy owner passes on to you. Watch what he does and find out the "why's" about everything.

Then you're ready to get promoted to the 2nd grade. ;-) But in reality dairying is one of the most rewarding occupations in the world. You'll meet and deal with some wonderful folks but like everything else there will be some bad apples as well. Learn your lessons but be forward thinking and remember that when playing with numbers you can make them do anything you want them to so be a realist always. Hopefully you'll love it and be successful but IF you see it's not gonna work don't be ashamed to get out before it's too late.

Well, I haven't had any luck yet finding a dairy to work/learn the business. I've been on the phone a lot and visited a dairy farm last week but haven't heard back from them. I'll just keep trying.
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Re: New to dairy

Postby dun » Fri Feb 08, 2008 4:40 pm

Part of the problem is being taken seriously. When someone with a good paying job says they want to learn farming, dairying, ditch digging or whatever, the prospective employer tends to have a jaundiced eye. As hard as it is to find good help that will stick with it, farmers tend to be reluctant to heire simple because they've been burned before.
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Re: New to dairy

Postby Arnold Ziffle » Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:34 pm

Simangus, does milk from your Jersey's wind up at the "little creamery in Brenham" ?

Where do you sell your Jerseys when they are retired from the dairy? I know of a few folks that are always looking for potential nurse cows, and they prefer Jerseys.
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Re: New to dairy

Postby tncattle » Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:25 pm

I'm not looking for a paying job, I've got that and have summers off-paid. I'm looking at volunteering to help the dairy farmer in exchange for learning the ropes. Ain't that a pretty good deal for both?
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Re: New to dairy

Postby hillsdown » Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:17 pm

tncattle wrote:I'm not looking for a paying job, I've got that and have summers off-paid. I'm looking at volunteering to help the dairy farmer in exchange for learning the ropes. Ain't that a pretty good deal for both?



It sounds like a good deal but free labor can sometimes cost you (the dairy operation) a bundle in the end that is why people don't usually go for it.
Let them know that you will rake stalls, clean the milking parlor,clean calf pens etc. you know all the little crap jobs and you won't go near the milk cows until you fully grasp the concept of how the dairy operates and the special care that a dairy cow needs.Since it will be summer work they will probably have you in the field or out fencing.
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Re: New to dairy

Postby bigbull338 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 1:00 pm

ok im going to jump on this johns thing.the reason that johns is found in dairy herds is because dairyman buy alot of cows.an those cows are from all parts of the country.an they arnt strictly tested an culled.because if they was youd be culling 40 to 50% of the nations milk cow herd yearly.now for the beef cows with johns.your not going to see meny beef herds with johns because most people raise their replacements.an most beef cattle are not exposed to johns infected dairy herds.the beef cows that get johns was exposed most likely to it through the sale barns.an was penned close to johns carriers.
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Re: New to dairy

Postby TexasBred » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:03 pm

tncattle wrote:I'm not looking for a paying job, I've got that and have summers off-paid. I'm looking at volunteering to help the dairy farmer in exchange for learning the ropes. Ain't that a pretty good deal for both?



Don't know how old you are but will take a lifetime doing it only 3 months out of the year. And the deal won't be so good for you or the dairyman if you just happen to contaminate a tank of milk with antibiotics, or give all the dry cows you're drying off a shot of lutalyse or forget to turn on the compressor to the milk tank.
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