So, we have a cow.

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by justusnak, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. justusnak

    justusnak Active Member

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    Last summer, 2016, I was presented with a deal I could NOT pass up. Someone I knew had been after my husband to sell him his pickup truck for some time. They never could agree on a price until finally this friend came to me and said..." I think I have a solution, I will give you $600 and this 2 1/2 month old calf, 1/2 Angus, 1/4 Holstein 1/4 some other dairy breed ( I can't remember) for that truck." Now, I know that truck is NOT worth much,however because my husband drug his feet for so long, this guy was willing to pay , in my opinion, way more than what it was worth. It was a 2002 Chevy, 2 wheel drive with OVER 300 thousand miles. My heart raced, my pulse quickened, I stayed calm and told him I would discuss it with my husband. Inside I was " freaking out" I calmly walked away until he was out of sight then I took off running to the house. It took a few minutes to convince him, but my husband finally agreed to the deal. I WAS GIDDY! I was about to become the owner of our very first cow....Daisy May. I instantly fell in love with this little chocolate brown cow with big brown eyes. Of course I did so many things wrong. Firstly, I treated her like a puppy...a pet...Leading her on a leash, brushing her, laying in the hay with her, dreaming of fresh milk and great cheese. NOT thinking one day she would be over 1000 pounds and could become quite pushy! December 27th 2016 she turned 1 yr old. I now know the "issues" of an over friendly cow....in season. Oh boy! The guy I got her from is not a well seasoned cattle breeder as last summer was his first time owning cows as well. He has been trying to convince me to breed her so she would settle down but from what I read, I need to wait until she is 2 before breeding her. He is arguing with me telling me that she needs to be 2 when she calves....so breeding her now would be OK. ( he has a mini Hereford bull he wants to breed to her ) So tell me.....should I breed her now or wait? I don't want to take any chances in losing her during calving. This picture is of her when I first brought her home, February 2016. Isn't she a doll?
     

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  2. G. Seddon

    G. Seddon Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Most people breed their heifers at 15 months or so, and they calve at about 24 months. It all depends, however, on the size of your heifer (and also when you want her to calve -- as in spring or fall, preferably NOT the dead of winter or high HEAT of summer -- this could depend on where you're located). And consider a "calving ease" bull for a heifer having her first calf.

    Because you're new to all this, please get a book or two on raising a cow. Heather Smith Thomas has a number of good books available.

    Good luck on all of this!
     
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  3. justusnak

    justusnak Active Member

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    Thank you for the breeding advice. I am a bit nervous about breeding....I am sure once I do have her bred...I will calm down. I am going to look for that author...and get myself a bit more prepared. :cow::cow:
     
  4. MO_cows

    MO_cows I calls em like I sees em

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    Breed your heifer when she is 65% of mature size. More important than age to have enough growing done. A pampered heifer like yours is probably there by 15 months. Then allow for when you want the calf born. Not in the worst of summer or winter.
     
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  5. ufo_chris

    ufo_chris Well-Known Member

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    What a sweet heifer😊
    Unless she gets really pushy you are usually ok making a cow a pet.
    Bull or even steer ,don't.
    Quit feeding her treats from your hands/pockets if she is pushy.
    Tie her short when u brush her so she won't try to rub on you.
    Btw ,the Heather Smith Thomas books are usually available at TSC, I bought a couple myself when I got my first cow.
     
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  6. justusnak

    justusnak Active Member

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    I believe she is easily 65% of her mature size. So if I bred her now, in January, she would have an October calf....that's a good time to be calving. Fall is calm , weather wise, around these parts, and my B day is October....maybe she would give me a wonderful little present. :)
     
  7. G. Seddon

    G. Seddon Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If she just turned 1, I'd hold off. The last thing you need is an immature heifer giving birth to a calf and not knowing what to do. I've been known to hold off breeding for months to allow heifer to mature more (physically and mentally). You could even wait until June to breed her (at 18 months) and go for a spring 2018 calf. Don't know your location, but climate and weather can influence when you breed also.

    It would also give you plenty of time to familiarize yourself with what you'll need to know as she grows. If you plan to milk her, you'll be able to prepare yourself to train her for this. There are books and websites on family cows.

    I know there are many differing opinions on when to breed; this is just mine.
     
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  8. G. Seddon

    G. Seddon Well-Known Member Supporter

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  9. justusnak

    justusnak Active Member

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    Thank you for your input. I am in IN, so our Springtime weather has been known to be brutal some years. I do feel she is still a bit immature, since when I enter the pasture, sometimes she will start running and kicking up her heals, throwing her head around, running towards me. I always carry a slender board, my " moo stick" which when I hold it up, she immediately calms down and walks gently to the barn. The way she runs kicking and bucking, tells me she is still immature. ( I think)
     
  10. Jlynnp

    Jlynnp Well-Known Member

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    I agree strongly with this. Were she mine I would do the breeding in June or July. That gives you plenty of time to research and make sure you are all set for the new arrival.
     
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  11. Empire

    Empire Well-Known Member

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    I am assuming that the original owner wants to have you give the go ahead to breed is because he has a mini Hereford bull. A mini bull won't be able to breed full size heifers and cows with great success on a large scale basis. He may be able to stick a few shorter animals, but not a big Holstein heifer.
    I would hold off and breed between 18 and 24 months for a dairy animal. She will be a bit taller and her bag won't drag in the mud. If the 1\4 that you don't know is jersey, she may be a smaller cow anyways. If it's something like brown swiss or milking short horn, she may end up on the large side.
     
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  12. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The old myth that small bulls can't breed large cows, again.

    Brenn of Paradise was a 7 month old short-legged Dexter bull when he bred a small herd of dairy cows. No misses.

    Rainbow Hills Ivanhoe was a short legged Dexter bull that successfully bred a herd of 35 Angus cows for years, making "Dangus" beef calves.

    No matter how short the bull, the cow can reach him when she's ready.
     
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  13. Empire

    Empire Well-Known Member

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    A tiny 38" or so bull is not going to cover a full sized Holstein who is 60 or more inches at the pins. Not without a steep slope where he can get the landscape advantage or a step stool.
    I'm not talking about can't ever get them bred, I'm talking consistent basis.
     
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  14. donrae

    donrae Well-Known Member

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    He's telling you "she needs to be 2 when she calves".....or what? She's gonna die if she doesn't have her first calf at 2? Be permanently sterile? Grow a second head?

    Always beware of owners of intact male livestock of any species who want to use your female animals simply as a walking uterus.

    I like mini Herefords myself, but I just can't see the point in that cross. Yes, his bull has testicles and I'm sure he'd cut you a great deal on breeding. But what is the offspring going to be? Besides cheap? Half large, half mini, part meat, part dairy, sounds like a mixed mess to me. If you want meat, breed her to a full size meat bull. If you're looking for another dairy animal, breed her to a dairy animal. I guess if you're wanting to breed down in size you could go mini, but I'm still not seeing that the offspring is going to be good for much. You could do better paying a bit more for a stud or AI fee and get a way better quality calf.
     
  15. justusnak

    justusnak Active Member

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    I believe he is just wanting to see if his young bull can " do the job" and to see what the cross would be like. He knows I only want to breed her so I can milk, I am not interested in keeping the calf...but want to breed her safely and so that the calf would be able to be sold easily. I most likely will talk to my vet about AI...and see about having her done that way. I DEFINITELY do not want to use an inexperienced young bull that potentially could cause injury to my Daisy.
     
  16. Rosepath

    Rosepath Well-Known Member

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    Just don't wait too long, I had a lovely Jersey heifer that we waited to breed. And waited and waited. By the time she was 2, nothing worked, she never did get bred. I asked a beef farmer friend of mine his opinion. He said if they aren't bred before age 2 they often won't take. Which explains our dilemma. Had to sell her for meat price.
    The ones I've had lately were all Jersey, so this only partly applies to your girl, but they have all calved at 21 to 24 months of age and did perfectly fine. They weren't near as nervous as I was, LOL.
    Good luck with her, from another Hoosier who loves cows :)
     
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  17. Allen W

    Allen W Well-Known Member

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    If you just want to sell the calf breed her to a low birth weight Angus.


    I've seen some miniature Herefords with big heads and rough shoulders that I would hesitate to use on heifers even though they are miniature.
     
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  18. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Expectations.

    Sounds like you are expecting to have a saleable calf and get milk to drink and make cheese. Right?

    Marketing a half full sized, half mini something, part beef, part dairy might be difficult. Are you thinking you'll be selling a beef type animal? With very little information to go on, I'm going to stick my neck way out and say the guy you got her from has little idea what breed combination she is. If she is more Jersey than you were told, then birth weight becomes critical. But breeding her to a Jersey, when she actually is quarter or half Holstein, gets you a calf that is way smaller than if you'd bred to an Angus.

    A little of this breed and a little of that breed destroys the individual breed standard that breed associations developed over hundreds of years. There is a good degree of predictability in that.

    Should I assume that you know what a Free Martin is and that she isn't?

    The mini or low line cattle is ,IMHO, just a fad. Money can be made if you are willing to do a bunch of marketing. But even within that audience, it is either a tiny cow or not. I don't see any demand for half mini-Hereford, quarter Angus, quarter some combination of a milk breed.

    Many first timers kill their first calf. Too much milk. No electrolytes on hand. Scours tablets not given early enough. Untreated pneumonia. It is a learning curve that the calf pays for with her life.

    Angus do not produce a ton of milk. Angus generally are harder to milk. How disappointed would you be if you could only get a quart of milk, twice a day? You have time for that? I'd get the milking stanchion set up and feed her in it every day. There is no good way to know if her milk production will follow the Holstein (if that breed is in there at all) DNA or the Dexter/Brown Swiss/Jersey/whatever DNA.

    A new calf in October in Indiana is fine. But a two month old calf in December might be a bit harder. A four month old baby in the bone chilling February snow storms will require some good weather proof housing.

    Expectations.

    Sound like you are having a blast. It may not matter the value of the calf. It may not matter how much time you spend coaxing a bit of milk from your Daisy May. What matters is that you are enjoying this adventure.
     
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  19. justusnak

    justusnak Active Member

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    I am absolutely enjoying this new adventure. Daisy May is by far the sweetest cow I have ever been around.
    Thank you for all of your input and advise. :)
     
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  20. DJ in WA

    DJ in WA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This isn't as complicated as many make it sound.

    If I were you, I would get her bred right now, as long as it's a proven low birth weight bull. Better bred to anything than getting fat and infertile waiting til spring. And heifers in heat can be annoying and somewhat dangerous if you don't watch your back. And the risk of her breaking out and finding her own bull, or a bull finding her.

    You may lose value on a calf out of miniature, but not bred means feeding her for several extra months for nothing.

    I bought a British White heifer at 7 months that ended up being already bred. Calved a 71 pound bull calf at 15 months. Hard pull, but she did okay, and was a good mom. Did fine raising the calf, and as a beef breed, I still stole some milk from her. Bred back first time AI next round.

    Anyway, that got me thinking why we fret and wait til they're 2 years to calve. If she had been even 18 or 19 months might not have been a problem. Especially easier if you have Holstein and jersey in the mix. Holsteins are bigger, and Jerseys are known for easier calving.

    Haypoint doesn't really understand homesteader types. He's worried you won't get 10 gallons of milk a day from a non-pure cow. Be thankful you won't. I milk beef cows. Steal milk a couple times a week whenever I need it, after separating the calf. Yes, beef cows do make milk. And to only get a quart twice a day would be quite a rarity. I get a gallon after separating calf for the day.

    Anyway, I would get her bred to something making small calves just to get her in production of something, and to have her calving at your preferred time.

    You can learn here about bulls that are easy calving. Check birthweight epd's. If used something like these, you're heifer wouldn't have a problem related to size.

    http://www.pharocattlecompany.com/semen
     
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