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We are considering obtaining a jersey and I have concerns about the amount of land to needed to successfully sustain a mostly grass fed milk cow and also the quality of our grass.

We have exactly 4.38 acres with about 4 acres of real pasture. This is all crossed fenced with some areas that look better than others.

I also do not know what, if any, chemicals have been put on the land - although the place sat empty for about a year before we bought it in August. We've heard that the people we bought it from had beef cattle on the land so I assume nothing harmful. Can this be tested? Is it worth testing it?

Thanks ! :)
Carla

Ooops! This posted twice and I don't know how to remove the other one???
Sorry.
 

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For a single cow, an acre, perhaps divided into quarter-acre paddocks, will be more than enough. Even there you will have to clip down excess growth.

If the land wasn't row cropped, personally I wouldn't worry about herbicide or pesticide residue. Most beef farmers are pretty careful about what chemicals are used around their critters.

Ken S. in WC TN
 

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Ken -

Maybe I'm just not seeing it but I can go in to edit the post but I don't see anywhere to delete it????
 

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Our rule of thumb is two cows per acre. I think that goes for alot of farmers. Cows drink lots and lots of water so if you have a spring that is great. A pond works the best but in the winter they can slip and fall on the ice. Cows don't eat everything that grows out of the ground. They really like clover. We cut our fields twice a year and that keeps thier eyes healthy and that is really important.
 

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Here in central MN the rule of thumb is 2 acres per cow to graze and have enough surplus forage (hay) for the winter. It's going to depend on your growing season, pasture productivity, and maybe, depending on where you live, whether the rains come.
 

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To figure animal units for grazing, do not rely on internet advice! It depends on where you are, what you have for pasture, etc.

I can put one pair per acre, more or less. There are parts of the country where I would be starving my animals at that rate.

Check with your extension or soil conservation office. Ask other people who are raising diary cows in your area. Do not compare what works for beef cows with dairy cows, as their needs are very different.

Jena
 

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From Jena...... Check with your extension or soil conservation office. Ask other people who are raising diary cows in your area. Do not compare what works for beef cows with dairy cows, as their needs are very different.

Are the local extension offices usually helpful to individuals? I thought they would be there mostly for commercial farming operations. Another silly question - everyone says things like "check with a local person who is raising a dairy cow" I guess it's where I live but I just don't see dairy out on anyone's pasture and most everyone I talk to about it just laughs at me. "Why in the world would you want to have a dairy cow? They're too much work" is usually what I hear from anyone I talk to. I did find a small local commercial dairy but from what it looks like I wouldn't want their advice and it only makes me want to get my own cow sooner!!!
 

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HA! I usually find extension offices to be worthless for advice (and I'm a commercial farmer!). I suggest them, because you might get lucky and find a better one in your area!

Here in Illinois, we have a grazing specialist guy who works within the extension system, but I had to find him myself on the internet. He was a very nice, enthusiastic guy. He came and walked my pastures, helped me set up my rotations, etc. Try searching for someone like him for your area. Don't be afraid to track them down and call or email. They actually seem to like that.

Dairy cows generally need more nutrition than beef cows. A beef cow can suffer through a dry summer. She might lose weight, but she will recover. A dairy cow is more likely to simply starve and her milk production would decrease. They are just more sensitive in the nutritional department.

You can also learn alot by putting pieces together. If you learn how to make a feed ration, learn what the nutritional needs of your cow are, then you can find what the values are for the grass you have, what the expected forage tonnage is, etc. Much more work and brain power (and room to make catastrophic error) than finding someone who knows it all for you!

Good luck
Jena
 
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