Your site didn't give any information about milk production. We have six growing children who love to drink milk. I need a cow that will produce steers to be finished off for beef and an adequate supply of milk. I have heard wonderful things about Dexters meat but I'm a little concerned about their milk production. Can I get enough milk from one cow for drinking and cheese and butter making?
I have some Dexter-Jersey cross heifers for sale. They are very nice, about 14 months old now. Have to sell some because not enough room.
Ken in Minn
This will be our 3rd year with dexters. When purchased they were pretty skittery (cow with two 4-month old heifer calves)of which one was her own. They had been part of a herd of 15 or so where there was little handling and intense feed competition. Within 2 weeks in peaceful, verdant surroundings all were friendly, haltered and tied, brushed twice/day. I milked the cow during most of last winter with growing heifer at side. Averaged 2 Qts./day for a couple of months. They are real sweethearts if handled with kindness and respect for their "cow-ness". We recently added a young bull to the group as permanent herd-sire. They are a fine group and quite manageable. We hope to have calves to sell Fall of this year. Bull is registered-others not. All are duns(color).spring77 said:I'm also looking for a good family milk cow. I've looked at a few Dexter's but none of the herds I looked at milked any of their cows. Someone has told me that the amount of milk a Dexter gives can vary a lot from one bloodline to another. It seems like most people keep a few Dexters out on pasture and don't handle them much. The few heifers I looked at were all crazy wild and I couldn't see them standing to be milked. Do you know which lines are good for milk. How about breeders that would sell very young heifers that could be bottle raised to make them tame enough to milk?
Tim from Susquehanna
Ever considered a Jersey/Norwegian Red cross? The Norwegian Red has some of the larger breeds like Red and White Holstein and some beef and whatnot in its breeding. One of our first calf heifer has taped in at around 1100 lbs. as a two and a half year old and is giving 60 pounds of milk a day.spring77 said:Haggis,
I agree with you all the way. I still haven't gotten my own perfect homestead family cow yet. In a way it is probably a very good thing as I've had a much longer time to read up and research. Now that I am moving again I'm going to have to put off that cow a few more years. (sigh)
One of the things I have noticed among people who are proponents of one breed or another is how they "Accentuate the Positive" like Perry said. There is no perfect breed or perfect cow, and I'm starting to think that for the homesteader a purebred cow may be a bad idea.
I love Devons, if I had a lot of money and time I think I would buy a Devon heifer calf and raise her up to be my perfect homestead cow. But I feel that Devons have most of the problems of rare breeds. They are hard to find, expensive, and when you do find them it is very difficult to get just what you want. I want a very young calf, because I want to hand raise my cow and train her to the yoke. This would be true whatever breed I end up buying. Devons have the reputation of being the best breed for oxen because they are very active and smart. These are important traits when you are using them for draft all day long all year long, a smart active ox is going to last longer and get more work done. It also means they are harder to train and more apt to get into trouble. In a modern situation that is more often a liability rather than an asset.
Dexters are neat if you want a small cow. I don't want a small cow. I want a cow big enough to pull a one horse plow, pull a cart full of firewood or barrels of water out to the pasture. I also want to be able to buy a newborn heifer to train, that is very difficult do do with Dexters cause they are almost never sold untill they are weaned. I want to do most of my training while I still weigh more than the calf. That is how you get the best trained oxen, or working cows, as the case may be.
Jerseys are great but they are still not big enough. I need a cow with a little more bone and heft. Jerseys also tend towards the delicate side of hardiness, in my opinion. Add in the high susceptibility to milk fever and they end up being not my first or second choice. On the other hand they are really easy to come by and they give milk of the highest quality.
Guernseys I like better than Jerseys but they are really hard to find. I can actually get a hold of a Devon around here easier than I can a Guernsey. Not that they aren't around, its just Guernsey breeders seem to be totally offline hermits so I cannot figure how to locate them. Guernseys get almost big enough to do what I want and they have really quality milk. They are also supposed to be about the sweetest most biddable trainable cattle you ever run across.
Shorthorns are ideal but nobody's got them around here. At least not to sell heifers, I do know one farm that shows them and they were going to sell me some bull calves back when I still wanted oxen, but they keep every heifer (or sell them for more money than I'm willing to pay) for 4-H show heifers. They are just too rare in this area for me to afford them. Otherwise they are close to perfect for my goals.
Brown Swiss have only one thing against them. I have heard from a few places that they are incredibly hard to service with AI, espeicially as heifers. This is a generality but it seems to be a pretty commonly accepted one. I'm going to need to AI my cow unless I can find a beef bull in a herd close to me, I can't count on that. Other than that a Swiss would be a very good cow, the only problem otherwise would be too much milk, but I'm planning on feeding excess milk to stock so I think I can overcome that one.
Holstiens... I just think black and white is boring.
Aryshires, I've tentatively settled on Aryshires. They have great fertility, good milk quality, get to be a good sized cow, and are really common in my area. I have like 10 farms inside of a 2.5 hr radius that milk them. I feel confident I can find a heifer calf when I need one.
But I've also given a lot of thought to a beef/dairy cross. A holstein/hereford or holstien/Angus heifer calf would make a great family milk cow. I'm not so sure I won't go this route. I can still get her as a bottle calf cause she's coming from a dairy, she won't cost to much cause she won't be a replacement heifer, and she'll grow up to be a very sturdy heavy boned cow that can pull a good load and milk a nice amount for a homestead.
I think people get to hung up on purebred animals. Devon's are starting to have a lot of problems with their feet, the genetic diversity isn't there anymore. If it was up to me they'd outcross a few animals to shorthorns or Dexters or Danish Reds. The concept of a closed registry with no additional outside bloodlines coming in is a recipe for extinction. IMO
I don't know what my original point was but I'm snowed in and sitting at the computer. Hope this interests someone.
myersfarm said:red poll is a good one if you wanted them to do it all first dairy farm i worked on was a red poll herd....looked like red angus ,,,,milked like jerseys,,,were gentle bred back fast...i would love to have some milking red poll don't know were a man might buy some do you....none in my area south east missouri so i have jerseys and milking short horn calf