Advice Sought

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Tango, May 20, 2004.

  1. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    We don't need much milk - maybe 1.5 gallons per weeks but will be making cheese and butter and yogurt etc. I had wanted a Dexter before but settled for goats and not happy I did, though the milk tastes the same. I'm selling my goats and going to start looking for a Dexter. The prices really fluctuate on them however from $400 - $2500 from what I've seen. And they are not as easy to find as a Jersey around here. Can I reasonably expect to use just a little milk and let her calf take care of the rest? How long will a calf nurse and then how much longer will a cow lactate? Thanks for helping me.
     
  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A calf will nurse the cow until the cow drys up and kicks it for being a nusiance. If a cows gives very much milk the calf can't drink it all for a few weeks, and you'll need to milk out the excess. Pigs will love you if you share with them. I know Dexters are quite popular on the Homestead sites, but I"d much rather have a Jersey. A good Jersey would raise two calves, and let you steal enough to feed your family.
     

  3. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I just bought a number of Milking Devons and am waiting for some of the more gentle natured and younger ones to freshen and break them to milking, in the interum I have contacts to two Jersey cows in milk and freshly bred back. I like the looks and reputation of Dexter cows, but there must be a good reason that the Dexter once fell from favor and the Jersey has always been the first choice of the homesteader. Just my 2 shekels worth.

    Haggis @ Wolf Cairn Moor
     
  4. Mel-

    Mel- Well-Known Member

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    Marcia,

    I am so glad you started this thread! I just came here to start a similar thread about dexters!

    I went to the dexter associations website and contacted several dexter breeders in my area and boy they are expensive. I've been quoted probably $1000-1400 for a bred heifer/cow IF I can even find them.

    I am trying to decide on whether goats or cows (whether dexter or jersey). Can you tell me why you wish you had chosen cows instead?

    One reason I am leaning towards cows (if I do it at all !) is because I know my fence will hold in cows, it's holding in two 16 month old angus heifers at the moment. But, I've been told that goats may be impossible to keep in and I worry about my sisters doberman. She doesn't mess with these cows or at least stays safe on the outside of the fence barking! Since my sister lives on the other side of this pasture I can't get rid of the dog.

    I have read recommendations to try to buy an older cow that is used to being milked for a newbie like me. It looks like from my contacts that that is going to be impossible with dexters? and not too many dairy herds in this part of indiana (as a matter of fact I don't know of any in my county since the guy down the road sold out and bought cheaper land in illinois.

    I will be watching this thread with interest,

    Mel-
     
  5. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What part of Indiana are you in Mel? Several Amish farmers up in Lagrange county near Michigan state line have Jersey herds. Once in a while you will see a family cow advertised in the Farmers Exchange weekly paper that is printed in Elkhart county near there. Holstiens are by far the most popular by people who sell milk. Some of the Holstien springing heifers are selling as high as $2200. This is a good time to have cattle of any kind to sell.
     
  6. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mel,
    Ideally for a small family a dairy goat is a better deal, imo but I live in the heart of Florida Dairy and Beef country. If I didn't want to keep a bull for my cow, I could walk her down the road to be serviced. I bought my first Nubian (registered doe) in October and have yet to find a reg. Nubian buck to service her that is closer than a 7 hour round trip (after gas, time, tests, and stud fee I will be in debt on the future kids). I finally bought a 50% Nubian/50% boer for her and found I got into the Nubian's possible nonheat cycle for the summer. More wait. I also have a mixed dairy x boer and she is impossible to milk. The teats are small and she doesn't apreciate it. But the milk is delicious and so I am very frustrated having to pay $3.59 per gallon of store bought milk :(. But one of the things I heard about goats being easier and gentler to milk is absolutely untrue. I think it depends on how much time one has put into them: cows or goats. So I'm looking for an expierenced family milker or a bottle heifer I can raise on my own. In my area it just makes more sense. About the fencing, my neighbor's cow ran off two weeks ago and we haven't found her yet (but I hear her mooing once in a while).
     
  7. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Excellent! :)
     
  8. Mel-

    Mel- Well-Known Member

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    wow, uncle will, maybe the prices I've been quoted for dexters aren't as high as I thought!

    I'm southeast of indy 45 minutes or so. If there are any dairy farmers left in this area I don't know about them. Since my neighbor moved on to Illinois, I haven't even seen a dairy cow out in the fields (or at least not a jersey, I don't know what a holstein looks like). Can't say I blame that guy since he got $1.5 million ;)

    I think the closest amish settlement to me is Rush county or down around Loogootee. I've been watching the surrounding counties online newspapers with no luck either. Only thing for the last few months for sale in our paper is horses and steers (and of course free cats).

    This one person quoted me $500 for a calf/heifer born this spring if I pick them up anytime before winter and $650 if next spring. That sounded pretty reasonable. I don't think ANY of the people I have contacted have ever milked any of their dexters so finding an older one seems to be impossible. Another has a 10 year old bred cow but she has never been milked. Other prices quoted have been $650-850 for a spring heifer or $1200-1400 for a yearling or young cow.

    Mel-
     
  9. Mel-

    Mel- Well-Known Member

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    Tango,

    I am in the middle of the corn/soybean belt and I haven't ever seen a goat in a field or anything around here. There is a lady on this board who raises nubians however that is probalby only about an hour from me.

    My neighbor about a quarter of a mile or so down the road raises cattle, they are red with a red face? Also another cattle person about 2 miles or so away, he raises angus I think since they are mostly black. But most everyone else just raises corn/soybeans and the occasional steer.

    Could someone give me some idea of how much a dexter would eat a day in terms of grain and hay? I should be able to figure out feed prices and compare to goats that way but I really don't think any goats would be safe around this doberman. Also, I want to keep this pasture down and it's close to 4 acres so I'd have to get a bunch of goats once these two angus heifers of my brothers are off of it.

    Tango, I think I have been reading that dexters give 2-3 gallons a day. Nubians give about a gallon, right? So I've wondered if a dexter will cost me more than 3 times the feed of a nubian (I would assume so since they weigh about 4-5 times as much, I think?).

    Another reason for thinking about a cow instead of goats, there just doesn't seem to be any market whatsoever for goats around here and I'm not sure I could sell the boys for meat ( I mean I don't know if I would have the heart). I've been around steer though and usually by the time they are ready to butcher they have gotten pretty annoying (and huge)!

    Mel-
     
  10. Mullers Lane Farm

    Mullers Lane Farm Well-Known Member

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    we have a 6 yo Jersey that is just a love! She didn't take with the two AIs in 2002 (she has taken in previous years when exposed to a bull). She is just now starting to 'shut down' production from when she calved the spring 2002. We're down to milking her once a day and still getting about 10 lb (a gallon plus some). Last year we took in a holstein steer calf that she promptly adopted and we now have 2 week old angus cross bull calves that she is mothering up.

    She is currently bred to a dun Dexter but we will probably breed her back to a Jersey after she calves this fall.

    I can't say we've ever had too much milk since we keep at least 3 pigs at all times to take up any surplus from kitchen use and from sales.
     
  11. Mel-

    Mel- Well-Known Member

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    Cyndi,

    can you give me an idea of how much grain and hay she eats per day? Looking at some of the other threads about jerseys,
    it looked like it might cost as much as $100 a month for feed for one jersey or am I way off base? (just assuming I have no pasture for her though I do).

    Thank you,

    Mel-
     
  12. Mullers Lane Farm

    Mullers Lane Farm Well-Known Member

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    Mel,
    Paul is the 'keeper of the cow' (as well as being Choreman of the Board). I'm trying to remember the last time Paul was gone for a weekend and I had to care for our Jersey. I don't believe the grass was up yet so we were feeding hay yet. I'm thinking she had half a bale (50-75# bales) of alfalfa hay in the stanchion at each milking along with a 'scoop' of cracked oats/ cracked corn / ground soymeal with a sprinkling of rabbit pellets (alfalfa) on top. The rabbit pellets are a treat for her. I think I also put out the other half the bale for her to munch on through out the day but she never ate much of it.

    I'll have to double check this with Paul, but I beleive it is correct.
    Cyndi
     
  13. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    We have both. :) I'm working on getting rid of the goats though because they are a pain in the butt!!! I have an Alpine cross that I'm milking and they are not easy to milk. She's obstinate and wasn't handled enough when she was young. My Dexter I got as a steal at an auction. I got her as a cow/calf pair for $485 and she was already bred back. (we didn't know it though, that's a long story!)
    She just calved and I plan to start milking tonight. She was a field cow who had never been handled and I got her halter broke in just a couple of weeks and she's very gentle now. She's on pasture and I suppliment her with some hay and some dairy ration and she has free feed minerals. She's doing great. If I had it all to do over again I'd have never bought goats at all. :)
    That doberman is worrisome, I would definately not get goats unless you can be sure and keep the dog out. Dogs like that can kill small calves too but with a mother to protect it a calf would be better off.
    Patt
     
  14. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One huge advantage to a cow is that you get a valuable replacement hiefer or a whole bunch of beef in the process. Goats will not return as much in this respect.
     
  15. tinknal,

    thats what I was thinking too, I have a very large extended family and would have no problem getting ppl to split a steer with on butchering.

    does anyone know what kind of cows are red with some having white faces? That is what the guy just a quarter mile or so down the road has and I wondered if that kind of bull would be too big too cross a dexter with.

    Mel-
     
  16. pointer_hunter

    pointer_hunter Well-Known Member

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    Those are probably Herefords.
     
  17. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    Ever thought about miniature Zebu? much smaller size, browser instead of grazer. If you want smaller volumes of milk, sounds like it might work. I've never had cattle but figured if I did, I'd consider them.
     
  18. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    They would both be too big to cross with a Dexter though. I would definately recomend if you want a Dexter that you make sure you have someone with a bull nearby or you're prepared to AI. We're using a Highland bull for ours but they throw small calves like Dexters.
    Patt
     
  19. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    Just a thought: If you only use 1.5 gallons of milk a week, does it really make sense to have a cow? It might from a "I want farm-fresh milk" standpoint, but if you buy a cow, and then buy a couple calves to use some of the extra milk, your feed/input costs go up substantially.
     
  20. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't going to buy calves to take the extra milk. I can give the extra milk to my pigs. We don't use much milk but I make cheese, would like to make butter, sour cream, ice cream , etc with our own milk.
    The heart issue here is that I love the homesteading self-reliance concept. We just had a friend stay two days and we butchered a large sow and she couldn't believe we could do it on our own. Two women did most of the work; she helped where she could. It had been more than two years since we had spent time with her and I could see how far behind we've left the consumer mentality. I'm not going back, even if I have to pay more for a gallon of my milk that the crap in the plastic jug they pass off as milk in the supermarket. Life is too short and the good life is far too sweet for compromise.