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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been put into contact with someone who has a Brown Swiss X cow at their dairy that they're selling due to low production. At first it was stated that she didn't produce enough for the dairy but now they're saying she tested at 11 lbs the other day just a few months into her second lactation. I didn't think to ask if that was for a single milking or if that's her daily production. I'll have to check that out. She's sound in all 4, a 'nice cow' according to the owners but a bit on the small side. They can't explain the poor production and can't say whether it's due to heat or what, the wife was the one who suggested the heat being a possible cause.

I'm wondering if I bought this cow (for a very low price) if I couldn't get the milk production up by doing a few things. I don't know what their feeding practices are so I can't comment on that, but I'm wondering if she's not being bullied away from the bunk during dinner time and not getting enough feed to produce real well. Since I'm not familiar with their set up, I can't state this with any certainty but they did mention several times that she's a smaller cow. I'm also wondering if bringing her out here where she's one on one and in a less stressful environment would have an impact on her production. I also figure that if nothing else, she can raise a single calf now for me and I can get her AI'd to another BS and try to improve production on a heifer calf. Of course, if I could find it and could afford it I'd try to buy sexed semen. So much for au naturale however this is one of those cases that you gotta do what you gotta do and I'd really like to have a brown swiss to experience for awhile, at least. Later this fall I'll be adding a Jersey to the mix so she'll only be alone for another month / month and a half which should give us plenty of time to get her socialized.

So, what are your thoughts? Is this a gamble worth taking knowing that even if I raised only a single calf on her this year I'd more than make up her purchase price in the beef alone?
 

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11lbs would be per day and wouldn't raise anything but a very small calf. As the calf grows she's going to be producing less so don't count on her raising a calf for you. Anything giving 11 lbs here had better be ready to dry up or she's out the door, that doesn't pay the feed costs. If you're willing to carry the costs until she MIGHT have another calf, go for it. I wouldn't
 

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Often young cows are poor milkers but improve with the next lactation. See if you like the cow and if the price is right go for it. Hopefully she is already bred and you could milk her or just dry her off. She may be bullied, lower genetics, or something else. Watch her interact with other cows, and be aware of hidden ailment like pnuemonia. Often we had cows with a chronic lunger just never amount to anything. Some of our better older cows should have been culled for low production as 2yr olds. Current milk cow price at sale barn is 800-1200 for very average cows or 40 cents a pound
 

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Several things could be the cause. Does she have acidosis? This can drop a cows production significantly. Does she have ketosis? This too can have a dramatic effect. Does she have staph auerus? That can damage an udder, causing it to lower production (destroys the tissue). Or is she simply being bullied enough to hold her away from feed? What id want to see, is what her first lactation was like. If they are testing (DHI) get the records. If she averaged say 50lbs or so, then her 2nd could be more to do with her overall condition. Acidosis which is caused by not enough fiber, wont allow her system to retain nutrients.



Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Jeff, the feed issue is what I was sorta thinking, I'm not a pro by any means but every time I see dairy cattle around here in a dairy they've got very loose stools and that in and of itself can cause a dehydration situation which would affect fluid available for milk production, to my way of thinking. I also was thinking that it could quite possibly be bullying at the feed trough. They have said that there's no health issues, so I'm thinking this is a case of me having to get her here and give her a chance to rebound health wise if that's what she's needing, in order to get a real good idea of what her potential is. If nothing else, I could get a calf from her next spring or early summer. Now I've got to see if they'll wait for me to pick her up until after I get back from vacation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Evermoor, I was kinda thinking that I could get her out here and 'fix' what might be causing the problem, she's going to slaughter otherwise so she's open. They've stated she's healthy and doesn't have any health issues so I've got to assume it's either a management issue I can improve just by bringing her here and getting her out of the herd & on a better (IMO) diet or she's just not going to ever be a heavy producer. I'll have to ask about her lactation last year, I don't remember if they owned her for that or if they'd bought her since. She was bought with a group of other cows but I'm not sure exactly when.
 

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why not buy a couple or one young weaned heifer when old enough AI her with sexed semen which works best in young stock and end up with an exellent cow instead of an ok cow. farmers wont sell cows that produce milk or calves so she better be cheap
 

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To my way of thinking, this cow purchase scenario just don't pass the common sense sniff test. 11 pounds a day for any cow with BSwiss genetics is not just low production. It is a sick cow with serious problems.
With milk prices at a high peak, a dairy farmer is going to milk anything that is walking. If the cow is fixable, he is gonna fix the problem and milk her.
The only way I could rationalize buying cow in situation you have described would be to fill a chest freezer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This cow is being sold for less than what I will pay for a single weaning age dairy heifer, and at about 1/4th the fuel price it would cost to get said heifer. I'm paying slaughter price for her so I'm going in full well expecting a less than ideal specimen. When it comes down to it I've got to consider that 'if' I can nurse her back to health I'll have a producing cow that can give a calf by the middle of '08 whereas I'd have to wait another 29 months for a calf from a heifer.

Up North, not only are milk prices at a high peak, so are feed prices right here where the majority of what cows are fed is grown so she's costing more to feed than she's producing. She is milking, just not enough to make her a cost-effective animal in a dairy setting. I don't question that at all. I don't know of anyone who depends on animals for their livelihood who will keep an animal that doesn't keep up with their high demands. I don't depend on animals for my livelihood. I'm not all that interested in wearing a cow out in a few years pushing them beyond their natural ability to produce, if I put a little more $ into an animal than I 'should' that's fine especially if I'm getting the added benefit of homegrown beef and I'm assured that they've had a good life while they were alive.

This girl's first lactation was very good according to the owner and they're quite possibly going to AI her for me before I get her. The owners have a good reputation and it may well be someone you run into with your dairy dealings here in KS Up North - I'm not too worried that they're trying to be shady. They have too much at stake with their reputation alone. If they do decide to AI her for me it'll be Jersey semen & that's fine with me. I was hoping to get brown swiss semen but they don't have any on hand and said they can't buy in lots less than 10 straws. Maybe that'll be something to work on for 'next time'. I should find out while I'm on vacation @ the end of the week whether they'll AI her for me and I may have myself a moo either within about 10 days or as soon as she has cycled and been AI'd.

I totally, 100% see this as a rehabilitation project as I would any animal I bought from a similar management operation. If it doesn't work out and she's a lost cause then I'm still going to have the Jersey that I'm getting later this fall and I can take the BS to auction.
 
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