brown swiss good for homesteading?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by comfortacres, Dec 11, 2006.

  1. comfortacres

    comfortacres Member

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    We are looking into getting a beautiful brown swiss cow (3 years old- due March 5th) she is pregnant with a red holstein calf. She is $1400. We have 3 jerseys and we do cowshares, and I feel that she will be a nice addition. Now my question is, does anyone else have a brown swiss? will she be ok on once a day milking? How much will she tend to eat? (we only have a few acres pasture so we will be supplementing with hay until we clear more land) Will she be ok with my other much smaller girls?

    Thanks for replying,
    Natasha
    Comfort Acres farm
     
  2. ericakc

    ericakc Well-Known Member

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    Hi Natasha.

    I'm no expert, but I did get a Brown Swiss as my first milk cow. Here's what I can tell you about my experience. She is very docile. I feed her about 11-12 pounds of a dairy ration at each milking and have a round bale of hay out for her. She eats quite a bit but was too skinny when I got her in August. She has put on weight and I think looks about right now. And to your last question, I would say she gets along fine with my other bovines (a 7 month Gelbvieh heifer and a 14 month Gelbvieh bull). She is the boss but not a bully.

    Erica.
     

  3. JulieLou42

    JulieLou42 Well-Known Member

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    Brown Swiss was also my first cow, had been raised for 4-H program, and was a delight...like a big puppy dog. Wonderful temperament.

    That was over 30 years ago, and I've no recollection of what we fed her other than alfalfa and some oats, as instructed by other cattlemen. We didn't have grass hay there in that area.

    She was a beautiful reddish brown, with excellent conformation. Very easy to work with. Lotsa milk...her quantity will be close to the Holstein, so I'd think once a day milking would be chancey.
     
  4. vallyfarm

    vallyfarm Well-Known Member

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    Brown Swiss have about the best temperment of any cow breed I know of. That being said, they like to eat. And eat. And eat. They are a large cow. For us, the fencing had to be raised for them. They didn't TRY to get out, but 2000 lbs of hungry will stress a lot of fencing. They can be good milkers, or good beefers, but not both. If you have the feed and fencing, they would be an OK 1st choise. If it were up to me, if I wanted a littel homestead milker, it would have to be a Jersey. Just look in their eyes and you'll fall in love. If for a beefer, I'd go with a Herford. Both these have very good tempers, and if raised from calfs with a lot of contact, the will follow you around the field and think they are dogs. I had a HUGE Brown Swisser... over 65", yes, 65" at the shoulder. Very nice cow. Liked to get scrached behind the ear. Would come running up to se me in the mornings...almost 3000 lbs of animal that was running towards me, and NOT graceful. She would swing her head at a fly, and send me FLYING! Not a mean bone in her body, just big and strong. Mike
     
  5. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Comfortacres it all sounds good "except" I agree with JulieLou it may be chancey on the Once a Day milking. If you were to milk her twice a day the first 160 days post-calving and then go to once a day probably fine.

    Her calf should be a PowerHouse Beauty :)
     
  6. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    I see a problem here.

    If we have a giant cow (a brown swiss is a big animal) that is bred to produce 8 gallons of milk per day or more she will have to eat like a pig. Then we propose to cut her down to one milking per day, which means that she will have to cut production. Her feed cost for milk will go down, but her feed cost for body maintenance will not.

    Would it not be more logical to use a smaller cow and keep the cost of maintaining the cow down? That can really mount up when you are buying dairy feed.

    Valleyfarm spoke of having his big cow come running up to be petted and knocking him around when shaking her head at flies. Just wait until that big cow comes running to you on wet ground and tries to set her brakes. Been there, done that.
    Ox
     
  7. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Smaller breeds of cows can do the same thing. I have had Jerseys step on my feet, I have had them playfully butt me, and of course the kick. They all feel the same, they all have big hard heads, strong muscled necks, and weigh a heck of a lot more than you. Comparing a smaller Jersey kick to the larger animals. Those jersey kicks hurt quite a bit more, because of their smaller hooves and faster kick. A good comparison is getting kicked by a calf, to a cow. The cow hurts less than a calf, because of the bigger hoof.


    Sure a big animal has more mass behind them, but all bovine are dangerous when they dont stop. As far as feed goes, depends on the animal. I have a jersey who eats as much as our swiss.


    Personally if I had a choice between the smaller breeds and the swiss. I would take the swiss because of their strong Feet and legs, longevity, and the overall less problematic animal. Swiss mature later, and it isn't uncommon to see a 14-15 yr old swiss still milking.

    Jeff
     
  8. comfortacres

    comfortacres Member

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    hey all, I have decided to get Molly. I see the concerns that you all addressed, and I will probably try to keep her calf on her for the first four months and THEN go to once a day milking.

    We do cowshares and her production will greatly benefit us, but going to twice a day milking again is just something I would like to avoid. If I keep the calf on her, separate them at night (I milk in the morning) would that solve the program and keep her in good health?

    She is such a beautiful cow and so easy going, I look foward to having her here on our small farm. 13.6 acres.

    I have heard that Brown Swiss are good foragers and converters. How is everyone's experience with that?

    Also, on the down side, I heard some are difficult to AI. Anyone with concerns there?

    Thank you all for all your imput,
    Natasha
     
  9. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Yes they are good foragers and converters. Ours every single milking is full, she eats any grass, and seems to produce equally off of any of it.

    Hard breeders, yes. I had ours bred, she took, but was in heat today. She likely absorbed the pregnancy :(. She was preg checked, and it was positive (ultrasound too). I am going to have her ultrasounded Friday when I check some others, and maybe by chance its a false heat :). Chances are, its not a false, and she did absorb it. But yes, they can be tricky, usually take 2-3 or so. But be aggressive with getting her bred, and you should be fine. What I mean by aggressive, dont go natural with the breedings.

    You will like your decision, swiss are really nice animals, and for the most part, problem free.


    Jeff