Good dual purpose cow?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by DixyDoodle, Feb 3, 2007.

  1. DixyDoodle

    DixyDoodle stranger than fiction

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    My horse hay guy showed up today and we got to talking about cattle, since he's a dairy farmer (holsteins).

    I told him about how we were debating on getting a jersey in the spring (or a goat, the votes aren't all in yet!). He said, "Oh, you don't want a jersey! They are too delicate in the winter!" He said I would be best to go for something like a lineback (belted galloway) because they are not only dual purpose (dh would prefer meat cows), but hardy as well. Plus they will not give you an overload of milk that a larger, strictly-dairy cow might.

    Ohhhh, now what? This is what I would like, if I had a preference, I would like a cow that:

    --is easily tamed and handled
    --can withstand the Canadian winters without too much trouble
    --isn't too large---we only need a cow that can provide a decent amount for us, a four member family
    --that is economical in terms of feed and care

    Do you think if we did buy, should we get a mature been-there, done-that cow, or go for a young heifer to raise up? My neighbour said it takes about 2 years for a cow to get to breeding maturity, and it would cost about $2500 to raise the cow to this point. Sound about right? Is there a limit to what age I should buy? What is considered too old for a milking cow?

    I do have a neighbour that has jerseys. I didn't even realize he did because most of his property is hidden behind the bushes, and my hay guy said he probably also has to keep them inside most of the time due to their delicate nature. He also told me that if I bought a jersey heifer, if I spend more than $50 for one, I paid too much. I was under the impression that jerseys were expensive to buy. Am I missing something here?

    Or should I just buy a goat? LOL I would do that as milk is milk to me, but it is doubful that my one son would drink it, so that would defeat the whole purpose of having "homegrown" milk.

    Your thoughts?

    DD
     
  2. jerzeygurl

    jerzeygurl woolgathering

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    my jerseys are outside all winter, it was 4 degrees last nite, we often have temps below zero in the day time


    a good dual purpose would be a jersey angus cross
     

  3. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I live in Northern Minnesota, and while there are some colder places in Ontario it gets cold here too; we've had our Jerseys in full milk at more than fifty-below-zero, and they've done just fine. By the by, no cow can give "too much milk" but there are a great many crofters who at a loss for what to do with anything beyond what they need for the kitchen table. A cow is the hub of the smallholding, she will peacefully eat her grass and chew her cud while giving the crofter manure aplenty for the garden, and milk products for nearly all the homestead residents: pigs, chickens, her calf and extra calves, the farmer and children; and if she's good enough, the neighbors will be 'round to trade for some of her milk as well.

    If you want the very best dual purpose breed go with a Holstein cow, she is the pinnacle of balance between beef and dairy; everything else is a move toward beef, a move toward cream, or a giant step towards just having a small edible pet that gives a little milk.
     
  4. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If they breeding stock were more readily available I would be looking at Dutch Belteds.
     
  5. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    A Jersey, a Guernsey, a Milking Shorthorn, an Ayrshire, a Dutch Belted, a Normande, a Dexter, or a Cannadinne(Black Jersey) are all good cows.
    Why not go with a good healthy young cow that is trained to milk, as from the sounds of things it is a buyer's market for dairy stock in Canada.
    I wouldn't get hung up on one breed. Buy good healthy stock, give 'em good care, and any breed can do well for you.
     
  6. Ralph in N.E.Oh

    Ralph in N.E.Oh Humble Shepherd

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    Great reply by Up North!
     
  7. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Good reply by Up North. And Jerseys are *not* delicate in the cold.....don't know where he got that from?? We use our Jerseys for meat and milk and are very satisfied.
     
  8. IMContrary

    IMContrary Well-Known Member

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    If you are Canadian, try a Cannadiene, a native breed to Quebec, rare and needing to be propagated.

    Here is the address for their Canadian breed association:

    Société des Éleveurs de Bovins Canadiens,4865 Boulevard Laurier Ouest, Sainte-Hyacinthe,
    Quebec, Canada, J2S 3V4 .

    You can also see pictures and read about them on this site.

    http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/canadienne/index.htm]

    and here is a list of Canadian breeders I've found.

    http://www.rarebreedscanada.ca/breeders-network.htm#cattle
     
  9. DixyDoodle

    DixyDoodle stranger than fiction

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    Finding that in my area might be difficult. I'm in holstein country! Quite a few black angus around, few jerseys that I know of, and verrrrrry few jersey crosses. That cross would be the best of my and the dh's worlds though!
    Well, I only want a family cow. I suppose a rare breed would be costly. Also, I am in an area where Quebeckers are not really looked fondly upon generally speaking, I don't really care either way. But that would be an odd thing to propogate in my area, definitely going against the grain around here! :p

    So jerseys can withstand colder weather? That was my main concern. We get some really bad days here (not too often, fortunately) that can run a good -35C.
    What do you mean by young though? And what should I look for and avoid? :D
     
  10. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    By a young cow I mean a cow that has had 1 or 2 calves. Look for a balanced udder free of any hard quarters or damaged teats, look at cow's rear leg hock joints- are they swollen, scraped up, or damaged?
    Oh, and if the cow you look at has been milking for 100 days or more since she last calved, ask about her breeding status.
     
  11. DixyDoodle

    DixyDoodle stranger than fiction

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    Why is that? :shrug: And how long will a cow produce milk for me before the amount drops off substantially or stops?

    And re: her hocks. Do you mean if she's banged up, perhaps she is difficult to milk? Again, would getting a heifer be better in this respect, so that you can raise her up yourself and get her used to being handled frequently. I don't mind waiting for awhile before I can milk.

    Age-wise: what do you think would be too old to get for a milking cow if I were to be offered an older cow?

    In any case, if I were to get a cow from the neighour, a vet check would be mandatory first. I don't want someone unloading an unbreedable cow off on me. :p I could also have the vet check that she stands well for milking though, too, couldn't I? Well, I mean he would at least be a fairly decent judge of that?

    DD
     
  12. Slev

    Slev Well-Known Member Supporter

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    you know, another spin on the Cannadiene option might be that looking at the resale value of a "rare breed" being more valuable that your common cow. If it were me, I'd rethink the Cannadiene option, at least to get a real price and not just suppose hey cost too much. (but that's me) :)
     
  13. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    Rare breeds of any sort only have value to someone looking for that particular rare breed; if surplus stock has to be run through the auction ring the owner might not get a bid, or no bid above hamburger prices. Replacement stock is very expensive, hard to find, and often far away. The gene pool is nearly always small, often too small.

    If a crofter wants to keep dairy on the thrifty side, staying within the dairy breeds locally available is the way to go; exotics of any sort are tricky business, and only profitable to a very few folks. On the other hand, if a body lives where a rare or exotic breed is more "common", it might not be a bad idea to go with such a breed.
     
  14. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Good Luck :)
     
  15. jerzeygurl

    jerzeygurl woolgathering

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    most of your dairy stock came from colder climates, holstiens are from the northern europe, and jersey from the isle of jersey british isles i belive, neither places known for warmth...

    if you can't get an angusxjersey, you can always make one it seems like the ingredients are there...we bought an angus calf for 400 (on grass not a bobbie) bred with him 2 cycles, and sold him for 1000...angus bulls are easier for beginers to deal with, but as they mature they are fence jumpers, so be rid of him then( they are worth to much here to butcher) we butcher our jersey bulls after 2 cycles, very good meat
     
  16. Trisha-MN

    Trisha-MN www.BilriteFarms.com

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    We have a Jersey and Jersey Angus and they do well with our cold temps but the Jersey can sure run stubborn at times :) Another breed I'm thinking about looking into are the Scotch highlands.
     
  17. mamagoose

    mamagoose Well-Known Member

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    Dixy,
    I bought a Red Poll a month ago and am perfectly pleased with the once a day milking and my gallon a day. She doesn't eat any more than any cow we've had that was just growing or pregnant and she's a pretty big girl, concensus is 1,100 lbs.
    I would expect her to produce more if we had been milking her with her calf on since the calf was born, but we got her at weaning. She's a good-sized beefy cow and DH wants to breed her to a Jersey, so we'll be experimenting with crossbreeding this fall.
    She came from a farm where the owner's father once had a milking herd of Red Poll and she is a descendant. He said when the boys went off to college he lost his help, so he went in the direction of producing beef only. I'm sure there are herds more adapted to milking.
    I prefer at least a dairyXbeef for a family cow. I think they are more similar to the old dual purpose homestead cow. It's hard to find long teats in a fullblood Jersey, etc., and from all the info I've gathered they are just asking for mastisis problems, whereas we rarely had to cull a cow for an udder problem when we raised strictly beef cows. I also want to raise a substantial beef calf from her since that's what we're used to.
    We had a JerseyXAngus heifer who wouldn't breed and she sold for around $.42/lb (all 1085 lbs of her as a 2 yo) at the stock sale a year ago. I agree it is a good cross and they are at least heterozygous polled.
    There are several Red Poll members listed here
    http://www.clrc.ca/cgi-bin/list.cgi?_list=memberprov&_association=19&_province=ON
    Red Poll are on the threatened list of the American and Canadian Livestock Conservancy.
    My Rosie has a shorter, more of an Angus shaped head than those pictured.
    Here is a website on "rare" Red Poll cheese
    http://www.teddingtoncheese.co.uk/acatalog/de327.htm
    http://www.teddingtoncheese.co.uk/acatalog/index.html
    Good luck!
    mamagoose
     
  18. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    I love holsteins, but I think the reason for that is my fond memories of my childhood growing up on our dairy farm.

    My problem with holsteins is most of them are desended from stock that has been bred for generations for milk production. Their bodies, and reproductive systems come second to milk production. They will milk themselves right down to a rack of bones, and they will not breed back unless you have specialized high energy feed.

    I had that trouble when I was milking cows in the mid 90s. I dont think a holstein is a good homesteading animal just for that reason. A lot of holsteins will give 80 lb a day. That's 9 gallons per day. Witht that kind of production they need 10lb of corn per day. 3,4, or 5 lb of specialised dairy suppliment per day,and all the top quality hay they can eat to keep to keep their energy needs met, and then you still might have trouble getting them bred back. A holstein cross might be ok, but I sure would not buy a holstein from a dairy farmer who has been breeding AI because I dont think a homesteader could feed her enough to keep her body condition up.

    I have butchered many many culled dairy cows. They dont have much muscle mass. They are all guts, legs, and udder. Thats what they are bred for. I dont think holsteins make a very good beef animal.

    My first thought is an angus holstein cross, or mabye a jersy/beef cross. All three are good hardy breeds that will stand a lot of cold.
     
  19. linn

    linn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well stated Michiganfarmer!!
     
  20. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    All cows may be termed "dual purpose", if they give milk, and they can be eaten, they are by difinition "dual purpose". I say that Holsteins are the very best dual purpose breed because they give the most milk of any "butcher" animal; their bulls calves are much sought after by the beef industry. Holsteins are the most common breed on the planet for just that reason.

    There are a great many dairy breeds, some common in certain locals, but scarce in others, many of of them are rare breeds or miniature/novelty breeds, but there are only five serious milk cows commonly used in the dairy industry, and of them only one is equally a part of the beef industry:
    - the Holstein-Fresian, gives lots of milk, and has a very good, much sought after butcher calf

    - the Brown Swiss, gives less milk, but richer milk than a Holstein of milk, and has a good butcher calf

    -the Jersey, gives less milk than a Holstein, more milk than a Brown Swiss, and richer milk than either, they do not have calves sought after by butchers

    (These last two are not too common but they are to be found with a careful look.)

    -the Ayrshire, gives less milk than a Holstein, less milk than a Brown Swiss, less milk than a Jersey, they do not have calves sought after by butchers

    -the Guernsey, gives less milk than a Holstein, less milk than a Brown Swiss, less milk than a Ayrshire, less milk than a Jersey, and richer milk than all but the Jersey, they do not have calves sought after by butchers

    As to what one must feed a cow to keep it producing milk, as with chickens, milk production is based on dry matter intake and protein levels. If one has very good grass, and very good hay (high in protein) then grain (in the form of corn, oats, or barley) can become a negative influence on milk production. In a perfect world the milk cow wants something like 15% protein, and she doesn't care if it's all grass or hay; the grain would be fed for heat and balance. Dairy farmers who have very high protein forage do not feed copious amounts of grain as do those who find it easier to pay the feed man for their milk.

    I would enjoy having a few Holsteins if my land allowed it, but I have low ground: wet in spring, wet in fall, and a 1500# Holstein would poach my paddocks far more than 900# Jerseys do.