Milking cows/Oats/Grassfed Question

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Ranchermom, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. Ranchermom

    Ranchermom Sam at the Pecan Ranch

    Oct 25, 2005
    South Texas
    Is there anyone out there that has a milking cow that does NOT give their cow oats? Hay, Pasture and maybe some alfalfa? I want to see how the milk production is without the oats.

  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Years ago it was common for small farmers to milk a small herd of cows that got nothing but grass and a block of salt to lick. When the grass was lush in the spring, they milked really well, but gave less when the pasture got dry and it was also later in their lactation. As long as the cow is in good flesh and giving as much milk as you need I see no reason to buy expensive feed for her.

  3. Horace Baker

    Horace Baker Well-Known Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    NW CT
    We milk year round on grass and hay only. As the previous poster said, on lush grass, milk is up, on hay it is lower. Right now I have cows on 1st cut hay and what's left of pasture (not much), feeding 2nd cut grass hay in the manger at milking. Some cows milking once a day, some twice. Our lowest producer is around 8 lbs., highest 20 lbs. We had a few up to 35 lbs. on good grass in early summer.

    We watch body condition and go to once a day milking if the cow needs a break, if she's really struggling we'll dry her off early. The cows are all healthy and happy on this regime and most have a calf every 12 months or less.

    Hope this helps, just one person's experience, others may have different results. It helps I think to have cows that aren't too highly bred for production on hot feed.
  4. pygmywombat

    pygmywombat Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2002
    Northeastern Ohio
    It all depends on the cow. Some cows thrive on grass only and drop their production to a lower level, some cows keep on milking where they were and become skeletons. If you have good pasture and hay (and I would definately feed a portion of alfalfa because they need the protein) try it out. If the cow is on grain now wean her off gradually and watch her body condition. If she starts getting thin up her grain a little. She may do just fine or may never be able to manage it. The way milk cows have been bred the past few decades makes a good majority of them produce milk at the expensive of their own body's reserves and they really need grain.
  5. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    New York bordering Ontario
    I've had a couple of times in my herd where for some reason there was no grain. Once was during the ice storm of '98 where they were out for maybe two weeks, and the other time was when the computer feeder was down for almost 6 weeks. Each time the cows dropped quite quickly to 5/8 of normal production. I'd tend to believe if they never had grain at all, they'd probably be in that range as well. So a 15,000# milker would be down around 9000#. Which would be fine for house milk.

  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

    May 22, 2003
    Zone 7
    I am a beef farmer so I have no true idea of how much milk my cows provide for their offspring. I do know that my cows have nothing but endophyte infected fescue with some clover as a diet for 365 days per year. These cattle grow some nice calves and the cows maintain themselves in good condition. The calves will weigh 60% or more of their mothers weight when they are sent to market at around 7 + months of age. I feel certain that the quantity of milk would exceed the needs of a typical family. Man has provided grain for cows, otherwise they would have a grass diet.
  7. phantompark

    phantompark Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2003
    I have a Jersey, that is only on grass (all summer till last week) and now hay. I feed half a good grass mix hay and half alfalfa hay. She is pleasingly plump. I haven't found many people who have done the same. So just like other people here responded. I have watched her body condition. She isn't skinny, I'm not sure if she is fat. But then it is only November and the weather has been warm, warm, warm. Which is rare for central NYS. So maybe when the cold cruddy weather gets here she will burn some of the plump off.
    She was a first time mom and we shared miling with her calf, till that got out of hand when the calf was 2 or 3 months of age. We weaned her and the calf stayed on pasture with the highlander herd. Mom was in separate pasture. She is big and healthy. Well we were getting about 4 gallons a day at peak (and sharing with the calf!) That slowly went down since August. Now She is down to 1 gallon pm milking and 1 1/2 gallon am milking. (3 weeks ago, she was still on good pasture and it was 2 gallons am, and 1 1/2 pm) I was going to go to once a day milking but I think I'll wait till end of December or so. When winter gets here. Not to sure how I'll go about that though. I keep reading about mastitis problems...... need more input...
    A goat person who raises hers on grass/hay suggested adding beat pulp, but my girl turned her nose up at it. She does like tomatoes and apples! I give her salt and a mineral mix free choice.
    Dairy farmers around here say I will shorten her life by not giving 15 pounds of grain a day. Something about ruining her body condition at her second calving. But since their animals are dead by 4 or 5 years old, I have taken to ignoring them as I have a very healthy, active, bright eyed, lots of curious attitude Jersey. Her calf was a pure bred Jersey (both are dark brown), and the cow has been bred to our Highlander bull, so that should be an interesting mix. We'll see come May!