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Old 02/12/09, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Jun 2002
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Jersey bull calf for meat?

Our neighborhood farmer raises Jersey cows, and I've recently been made aware that he sells his bull calves for $10.00 each, 1 - 2 weeks old.

So that got me thinking, (what a dangerous action!) if I bought one from him (don't have to worry about a calf going through the auction barn and picking up whatever disease) and since it's already 1 - 2 weeks old, bottle feed it until it's eating solid food, band it, so the little fellow becomes a steer, and let him eat grass all Spring, Summer, and into Fall, give "it" a little grain now and then and then butcher him.

Is this a project really worth it? I know I'm not going to end up with a big monster, but should end up with an animal that provides some meat. On the plus side, I'm good friends with the butcher, so would receive a discount on the butchering as well.

Or is this a pipe dream and not even worth thinking about (or acting on)?
Michael W. Smith in North-West Pennsylvania

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Old 02/12/09, 01:53 PM
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yes for you..and yes for him. Yes for you because they have been with their mother already and bottle feeding is easier if they have been with their mother and already gotten their first milk. Jerseys are hard to keep alive.
Yes for him because at the auction he may get 2 dollars a head. I paid 3 for one and 7 for my bigger one..and 1 dollar for my other. It was my 1 dollar and 4 dollar one that survived..go figure.

The meat is supposed to be really good.

dont fall in love with those big brown eyes! They are really small and really sweet

just dont change your mind about butchering..jerseys are the nastiest when they are older..whether you have them castrated or not

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Old 02/12/09, 01:59 PM
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Might you be able to ask the farmer to keep the bull calf on the cow for several weeks longer?

I would think that he would be much healthier and you'd be less likely to have a lump of spoiling veal on your hands.
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Old 02/12/09, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by lilmizlayla View Post
dont fall in love with those big brown eyes! They are really small and really sweet
Well now, THAT could be a problem! Perhaps I should get 3 of them (hey they are cheap enough!) raise one for myself, and send the remaining 2 to auction. Maybe having 3 I wouldn't get so attached.
Michael W. Smith in North-West Pennsylvania

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Old 02/12/09, 02:51 PM
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If you can't feed him through at least one winter, it's probably not worth it. We butchered a jersey steer last fall. He was primarily grass/hay fed, with only 150 lbs or so of grain fed to him. The meat is excellent - far better than some beef crosses we've raised and well worth raising.

However, he was two years old at butchering and hanging weight was around 800 lbs. The majority of that weight was put on in his second year of growth. Before that, he was all frame, no meat. I think if we had tried to butcher him before 18 months, we wouldn't have ended up with much meat at all.
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Old 02/12/09, 02:53 PM
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I've picked up Jersey calves at the auction barn and raised them successfully. Very tasty meat. After they are all wrapped up in butcher paper you don't really think about those brown eyes anymore. Just pretend they were accidently switched at the butcher' Oh...and don't name the little fellow.
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Old 02/12/09, 03:27 PM
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I had a day old that my folks bought for me as a gift. He was $10. When he was 18 months old, and I had nowhere to put the meat, I sent him to auction where he sold for $250. He almost died on me a couple of times, but pulled through. He never got very big. BTW, his name was Bambi.
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Old 02/12/09, 03:38 PM
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If you want to know what is in the meat you eat, it is worth it. If you're hoping to make an extra $, don't count on it. Make sure baby has a good start, at LEAST a week on mom, the longer you can pay farmer to keep him on some fresh cow milk, the better he'll be, even if you go there yourself and bottle feed him. The meat is excellent and if he turns into a pet, I'll bet he gets to be such a pest by 18 mo to 2 yrs that you're ready to send him away anyway.
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Old 02/12/09, 03:48 PM
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Piece and quite is right. If you plan on only keeping it for one summer it will not be worth doing. By fall he may weigh 250lbs live weight and after butchering and cutting up you will end up with about 30 lbs of usable meat or less. You would know where the meat came from, but it will have costed you about $20.00 a lb after processing. Even a veal calf is kept for a full year before processing and that is on an all milk diet so they grow faster than a grain or grass fed calf.
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Old 02/12/09, 04:20 PM
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Many, many years ago, my grandfather sold six week old calfs as veal. I think they fetched a good price. No doubt, they would be delicious!
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Old 02/12/09, 05:07 PM
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I cannot stand the taste of veal...yuk.
Anyway when your grandfather sold his calves as veal it would have been to a veal farm where they would have been fed until they reached about 500-600 lbs. They don't butcher veal at 6 weeks. I think 20 weeks is that absolute earliest that veal calves are butchered. Most places like them to reach 5-600 lbs and that takes time.
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Old 02/12/09, 06:31 PM
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We do this every year. We raise at least 2 for meat. We get them in the Spring when we have excess milk from our cow. Then we raise them to 18 months. Our customers love them. We have lots of repeat buyers. Ours are raised on milk and grass. At 18 months, the hanging weight on the whole steer is only around 300 lbs., so you don't get tons of meat, but it tastes good!!
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Old 02/12/09, 07:19 PM
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We used to do this with holstein steer calves, You may get much more from them, much faster.
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Old 10/02/10, 09:58 PM
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Re: Not worth it if only keeping for one summer. I got two bull calves in Feb. We are going to butcher one in about 3-4 weeks. I don't know how much they weigh, but I am thinking quite a bit more than 250 lbs. I will try to post pics tomorrow and see what you all think. They are nearly as big as my yearling heifer.
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Old 10/02/10, 10:48 PM
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If your keeping it two years yes.If I was going to do it again I would buy a Weaned Beef Calf around 600# put it on grass for the Summer then butcher it.Will cost more but some Good Beef and not have to worry about any problems with Bottle Feeding.

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Old 10/02/10, 11:00 PM
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We did it when we lived in CA. But we kept them for 2 years. We had 3, and we named them "Lunch" "Dinner" and "Hamburger." They were delicious!!!!
Even the kids had no problem eating them.
Oh and Lunch was a pain in the neck could get out of anywhere I dont care how secure the fence was......
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Old 10/02/10, 11:01 PM
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I buy mine Jersey bull calves when they are a week old.
It takes about 16 to 18 months to get them up to a nice wt.
The last one I was 17 months old and I got over 640 pounds of meat YUMMY.
Of course the last 5 months they get nothing but a grain mixture, as much as they can eat, "Total Feed" grain in front of them 24/7.
Yummy in the tummy as they are so tender, and nice sweat beef.
I have been getting Jersey calves like that one about every 2 years, and has been working out just great.
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Old 10/02/10, 11:02 PM
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Otis the Jersey was the best tasting beef we've ever had. Yummo.
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Old 10/02/10, 11:27 PM
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How long do they need milk?
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Old 10/03/10, 12:23 AM
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Oh yes they are good meat but you have to let the grow until 2 years as they are a slow growing meat. If you can manage that 2 years then go for it the only meat i like better is a jersey holstien cross mmmmmmm yummy
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