dairy cattle

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by brierpatch1974, Jun 23, 2006.

  1. brierpatch1974

    brierpatch1974 Well-Known Member

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    Myabe be a crazy question but I have to ask. When large dairy farms cattle have calfs they are pulled off the line for 3 or 4 days before milking continues.. In large farms thats a lot of calves so how the heck do they care for them if they not nursing on the mother? I can't imagine bottle feeding 30, 40, or even 50 calves. so how do they manage this? Thanks for the info.

    BP
     
  2. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    BP, I lived in a large dairy county in Florida before I moved to TN. There, the dairies pulled the calves off at dawn or at birth, whichever came first. The calves were given prepared colostrum and the bull calves were available for sale individually off the farm in some dairies. In others they were picked up by veal or beef buyers that day who took lots. Those calf farms are prepared with large milking stations that I saw. I don't know anything about veal producers' methods. The dairy heifers had prior arrangements. No large dairy I knew cared for the calves for more than a day. The small dairy I purchased my Jersey from here in TN, had their [skinny] bull calves tethered and fed the colostrum milk that was gathered from the freshened cows on the milk line. They had someone collect the bull calves every week or two depending on numbers.
     

  3. milkinpigs

    milkinpigs Dairy/Hog Farmer

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    It's not unusual for the big mega dairies to have from200 up to over a 1000 calves in hutches and on bottles or feed milk in buckets.
     
  4. john in la

    john in la Well-Known Member

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    First off the cows are pulled of the line about 60 days before they calf to allow the cow a rest period. Once they calf the calf is separated and the cow is put on the line but the milk can not be sold for about 4 days.

    Now the calves;
    They are taken at birth; The bull calves stay on the farm for about 3 to 5 days depending on day of birth and day of local auction. They will be hand fed for this time.
    The heifer calves will be hand fed twice a day till they are weaned (4 to 6 weeks)
    Some times the heifer calves are sent to a grow out farm at about 4 days old.
    They will say at this farm until about 2 months before calving.

    Most people think a dairy farmer only milks cows. If that were true it would be a easy job. Most of the work is rearing young and maintaining the area for the herd.

    Calf hutches
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. brierpatch1974

    brierpatch1974 Well-Known Member

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    ok now i get it lol. Thanks for clearing this up for me. I was wondering how the huge farms operated now one more question. If the cows are back to milking for the company and calves are bottle fed where does the milk come from for the calves or are they fed milk replacement? Seems very expensive to me but i guess they get discounts for buying bulk.

    Bp
     
  6. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Most dairies feed their calves milk replacer. Yes it is expensive but par for the course. Milk replacer is fed first for biosercurity measures. Diesease and sickness can be spread through whole milk. Of course this can be debated. Another big factor is that milk replacer is a consistent feed. You feed the same thing day in and day out. This is good for two reasons. First, it is much less likely to upset a calves digestive system. If you feed pooled milk from the farm, the milk can vary alot depending on how many newly freshened cows are going into the pool. Second, dairies that have employees feeding calves need to make the steps to feeding the calves as simple and consitent as possible. Milk replacer makes this possible. Another thing that people may not think of is that farmers get volume premiums added to their milk checks. If you divert milk to the calves, you may miss getting paid a few extra cents per 100 lbs of milk sold because you didn't ship a certain amount of milk. Maybe that isn't a case with the huge dairies but a dairy our size (60 cows) it really matters.

    Heather
     
  7. john in la

    john in la Well-Known Member

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    That is not only debatable but can cause fights if you are asking the right person. LOL.

    I use 100% milk replacer at this time because it is easy for me but using replacer may not always be right. In fact for a dairy worker it is easy to feed whole milk. No mixing or measuring involved.

    On one hand replacer manufactures will say it saves you money using replacers and helps the calf grow bigger and faster than whole milk because of biosecurity but they are also trying to sell bags of replacer. While it would be easy to figure the cost of milk to replacer by how many gallons a bag of replacer makes you would also have to figure any death lose due to using whole milk. But you need to also consider the cost savings if you are using milk that is not sellable. If you lose a few calves the cost may still be lower than buying replacer. The problem is it takes years of averaging to get the cost per calf for this and by then you may be in a deep hole.

    While I would never feed milk from one farm to another’s calves; using milk from a closed herd on its calf is not that bad. It is just in the past 10 years or so that some and I emphasize some dairies in my area have gone to all replacer feeding because of biosecurity becoming the new buzzword to hit the industry.
    .

    On the other hand I have seen where the question was asked to replacer manufactures; Why does my calf not gain weight on your replacer? The answer given was; Because they are not suppose to. Milk replacer is only to keep the calf alive long enough for it to make it from colostrum to grain. Remember the saying..........
    If it is on the feed tag it does not mean it is in the bag.
    If it is in the bag it must be on the tag.

    The only things that are on the tag that must be in the bag is listed under Guaranteed Analysis.

    This is one real reason veal growers do not rely on dairy replacers. They are looking for growth from milk only. They do not use a least cost computerized ration; in fact many use a special order mixed to their formula.
     
  8. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    John are you speaking of plant -based or milk-based replacer? Plant-based , like soy, is no meant for very young calves, they can't digest or absord the nutrients as well as milk-based replacer. What I read on calf notes anyway :)
     
  9. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Depends on the dairy farm, some large dairies can't be bothered with raising calves, so they send them to a grower. Some farms don't breed back the cow, they buy springing heifers instead (it is why there is a shortage at times). Most however send them to a grower, the smaller dairies raise their own. The growers do, do a nice job. They feed them accordingly. Some keep them for 100 days, some less. Most keep them long enough to ween, and give them a good start, then they go back to the farm.


    Every farm is different.



    Jeff
     
  10. john in la

    john in la Well-Known Member

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    No I was not talking about plant based replacers because these should not be used till a calf is at least 3 weeks old and most dairy calves are well on there way to being weaned by this age. You can usually pick out the plant based replacers just by looking at the fiber %; it will be real low.

    The problem with replacers is that they are not consistent just like whole milk is not consistent day to day. Every lot of replacer may have minor differences because of the price of ingredients at mixing. One lot may have lard and the next may have tallow. The replacer is made with what ever is cheapest that day to meet the tag requirements. It will list both lard and tallow but both do not need to be there as long as the annalist percentages are met.

    Vealers use a consistent mix that is mixed just for them. It will also have things like coconut oil which cost more but is a better replacer ingredient. They do not change there ration just because of cost fluctuations and are more fussy about the quality of the ingredients. They need to be as a calf may stop eating because the taste is off or different.

    Do not get me wrong; I believe that dairy milk replacers are very good and have there place in the dairy industry. But on the other hand I may be from the old school and I do not jump to every new buzzword that comes down the pike. People have been feeding whole milk since the 1st dairy farm and nature has said that a cow will produce every thing the calf needs in her milk. Can we alter this and make it better? Yes we can alter it or replace it but is it really better. That is a big debate.
     
  11. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    I've got my first batch of milk -based replacer already here for when my little heifer comes home. Sounds like it would have been better just to buy all the replacer she will need at the same time, making sure it is from the same lot. Will be better for cost-tracking purposes too...
     
  12. Mark T

    Mark T Well-Known Member

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    My cousin runs a 1400 cow dairy. He stuggles with endemic Johnes, so used to use milk replacer. They recently invested in a batch pasteurizer. Now old the unsaleable milk gets pasteurized and fed to the cows. The savings on milk replacer on an operation this size are enormous and enough to pay for the expensive pasteurizer. He also thinks they grow faster on milk than on milk replacer - and again, having cows enter the milking string at 24 rather than 26 months is a big dollar number when dealing with an operation this size.
     
  13. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    John from LA- What does the Coconut oil in the Vealer mix do for the calves?
    I would agree that MR is not neccesarily better than whole milk, but it is more convenient for busy dairy farmers, IMHO...Mark
     
  14. john in la

    john in la Well-Known Member

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    Coconut oil is a fat that is more like butterfat than other sources. Some of the better dairy replacers also have coconut oil. There is a company from Wis. that sells a good dairy replacer. (can not remember name)

    Look at your MR tag. Dairy use things like dried whey or dried skim milk. All the butterfat is taken out and they use things like digestible lard to add fat.

    Now look at a good replacer or a veal replacer. It uses dried milk with the butterfat and also add good fat sources like coconut oil.