Homesteading Forum banner
1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'd like to find out what the favorite breed of dairy cows are so here's a poll.
Also leave a short reason why you like them.
Ex.
Jersey-they have creamy milk.
Thanks
Tracy
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,053 Posts
Jersey-great rich milk and generally a smaller cow as well as very nice temperament.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,051 Posts
I have had jerseys, a Guernsey, 2 jerseyxherfords (good milk , beefier calves), a jersey-holstein cross, the jersey shorthorn was my favorite followed by the jerseys then the jersey-hereford crosses.:D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
660 Posts
In my small experience , the 3 Jerseys I have known gave beautiful rich milk, could be very friendly and affectionate AND/OR have minds of their own and be very difficult to handle.
Jersey steers are very very tasty though small and the biggest pain in the rear to deal with of any steers we have raised.

Our favorite cow is a Normande/Jersey cross whose milk is rich like a Jersey, but does not separate all the way out to blue watery skim and thick, thick cream but stays a little homogenized. Her milk also seems to have more solids and gives a better cheese yield than other milk. We have not eaten any of her calves yet. Since the Jersey in her is watered down, she is neither as affectionate, (though she seems to like people and likes to be groomed) or as stubborn and mischievous as a purebred.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
240 Posts
In my order: Jersey, Guernsey, Shorthorn, Dairy/Beef Cross, Other Lessor Known Dairy Breeds, Holstein.
I prefer richer milk, that's why my preference is what it is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
181 Posts
I have Bonnie the Ayrshire as the family cow.

Many people are leery of the Ayrshire because of its reputation for being high strung. Genetics do have an impact on temperment, but I think the way a cow is treated is more important, so I wouldn't make that a huge factor in breed selection (other than to say that the dairy breeds that have more AI influence will generally have better genetic predispositions than beef or dual purpose animals simply because obnoxious dairy cows get culled quickly - an obnoxious beef or heritage cow will probably be tolerated.
We also have an Ayrshire/Angus/Montbeliarde cross that is looking awesome.

We have another Charlais/Angus/Holstein cross heifer that I am excited about.

I love Bonnie and she has done a good job for us - milk and raising three calves this year. But if I had to do it over again, I'd choose a Holstein.

Here's why:

They give more milk, but milking four gallons won't take much longer than milking one - the prep and tear down time is the same no matter how much you milk. Extra milk can always find a home in the bellies of pigs and chickens. If you don't want to go to the trouble of milking it out, graft two more calves onto the cow and milk once a day (that is what we did with our Ayrshire this year). Most importantly, a Holstein heifer calf out of AI has immediate value and is easily sold - $700 at a couple weeks of age. If you want beef, two things can happen:

Your Holstein has a bull calf. You buy two more bull calves and graft them. Eight months later you have three 500-600 pound milk-fed baby beef ready to slaughter.

Your Holstein has a heifer calf. You buy three more bull calves and graft them. At two weeks, you sell the Holstein to a dairy or a dairy borker for $700. Eight months later you have three 500-600 pound milk-fed baby beef ready to slaughter.

One drawback of the Holstein is that her will to milk will thin her down without grain (Our Ayrshire has that problem too - she is healthy but right thin when we pull calves off of her). But many homestead cow people will feed grain anyway - and feeding 10 pounds doesn't take any more labor than feeding 5 pounds. It will cost a bit more, but if you end up selling two of your bull calves directly to customers, the income will more than balance the extra grain.

If you want creamier milk for the table, then a Jersey is good. I didn't go the Jersey route because of the yellow fat. Some people swear by Jersey beef, but since I'm selling to customers who already have to be educated about grass-fed beef, I didn't want the extra task of educating them about yellow fat. It may be purely aesthetic, but the higher-end customer is concerned about aesthetics.

Another option I'm intrigued about is the French dual-purpose Montbeliarde. If you don't intend to sell your heifers because you have the land and want to build a herd, then the Holstein heifer value isn't particularly relevant. The Montbeliardes have more fat content in their milk and actually can approach Jersey levels. Their milk is considered particularly good for cheese-making. They are bred to milk and gain on grass (a big consideration for my no-grain operation). Semen is readily available through Select Sires and Creative Genetics (and probably the others as well - but those are the companies I buy semen from). They don't milk as much as Holsteins, falling in the middle of Holsteins and Jerseys, but I am planning on mine raising two calves a year.

Some folks will argue for two smaller cows rather than the big beast of a Holstein (but remember, not all Holsteins are huge - look to buy from a grass-fed dairy that uses New Zealand genetics). They will say that you'll get the same amount of milk and also get two calves per year. I call shenanigans on this. The two calves you'll get from a Dexter will be much smaller than any of the three calves you'll get off the Holstein. If we look at the eight month range, let's say the Holstein calves are at 500 pounds each (they'll probably be a bit bigger but it's easy math) - 1500 pounds and it cost you $150 to buy the extra two bull calves and maybe $720 in grain (15$/bag organic dairy feed at 10 pounds/day = about 3$/day times 240 days = $720). You don't have to have that rain expense - I don't feed Bonnie any grain at all, but a Holstein may get thin on you. On the 50-50 chance of a heifer calf, you'll have an extra $625 ($700 sale - $75 for a replacement bull calf) In a bull calf year your total cost would be $870 and in a heifer calf year your cost would be $245. The average over several years would be $572.50.

Two dexters' calves might be 300 pounds at eight months. (Dexter proponents, if I'm off, let me know - I'm not aware of published growth tables for the Dexter). So you'll end up with 600 pounds of beef. We'll assume the Dexter doesn't get any grain to make the comparison as favorable as possible to the hobby breed.

We'll assume you keep one calf for your freezer and sell the extra(s). We'll also say you have a direct sales grass-fed market and get $2.00 a pound for your petit beef.

Holstein model: 500 pound steer in the freezer, 1000 pounds sold = $2000 - 575.50 = $1424.50 profit.

Dexter model: 300 pound steer in the freezer, 300 pounds sold = $600 profit.

That's a big difference. The difference gets even worse if you are just selling your calves at the auction house. As other posts have shown, what the market wants matters. The Dexter beef will be downgraded. If you are in a no-grain model, the calves might be slightly smaller, but the profit margin will go up because you'll save the grain expense.

Labor won't be the same either - You have twice as much prep time with the animals prior to milking, you have twice as many vaccines, shots, vet problems, heat detections, wormings, etc. You'll also probably have a hard time getting semen. If you have to add a Dexter bull to breed your girls, that is an extra expense too - and trio of Dexters will use up more land than a single Holstein.

But let me say this clearly before I get jumped by the Dexterphiles: If you think Dexters are cute, get them. Part of having cows is the enjoyment you get out of them and many people like small animals. I just don't think you can justify the Dexter in pragmatic terms.

If you want to go with the smaller animal and don't mind doing the extra customer education, I'd recommend a Jersey.
 

·
Very Dairy
Joined
·
14,609 Posts
I do love a Jersey cow!

That said, how can you look at a face like this, and not smile?! :)

 
Joined
·
6,637 Posts
Holsteins are kinda dear to my heart because I was raised with them, and the black and white looks good on a green pasture.

I own a jersey right now, and she produces plenty of milk for us, and a meat cow every year.

My favorite? I dunno. Any healthy disease resistance milking cow that breeds back easily.
 

·
Udderly Happy!
Joined
·
2,866 Posts
I'm going to jump on the Jersey bandwagon with the others. However, give me a few months and it could be Ayrshire!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,569 Posts
Jersey
Jersey/Holstein Cross
Holstein
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,001 Posts
Anyone have experience with Jersey/ Angus cross heiffers? If our Jersey has a heiffer calf, I'm thinking of keeping it as a future milker. Bull is Registered Black Angus.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,053 Posts
I have had experience with the Jersey/Angus steer calf. He was such a pain in the rear we butchered him early.
I have a friend who raises beef and he doesn't like his Angus for their attitudes either.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,001 Posts
I have had experience with the Jersey/Angus steer calf. He was such a pain in the rear we butchered him early.
I have a friend who raises beef and he doesn't like his Angus for their attitudes either.
I find that surprising, as the bull we used was at our place for several months and was so gentle you could walk right up to him. He was as placid as an old cow...super easy going. He belongs to our neighbor down the road, and we are looking forward to his visit again next spring :)
 

·
a yard full of chickens
Joined
·
688 Posts
I like Holsteins because black and white with interesting markings looks attractive. My favorite cows were also Holsteins. I'd pick one with a small stature and good personality- an old-style Holstein.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
331 Posts
Im glad I found this one my wife has been wanting a family milk cow for some time & I have no idea where to begin. We have 3 kids and lots of room for a cow,don't want a whole herd just an ol Bossie to milk and love. I guess I better get reading on this site & learn all I can. Thanks you.

Jon in Kansas
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
I'm a little (OK LOT) partial to those big doe eyes of a jersey! Great milk, great disposition, great friend!

Farmergirl-We had our first jersey/angus cross girl born this summer. I'm hoping to have another milk or nurse cow. Angus mom and Jersey bull. Her name.....JANGUS! :)
Valerie
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
181 Posts
"I have had experience with the Jersey/Angus steer calf. He was such a pain in the rear we butchered him early.
I have a friend who raises beef and he doesn't like his Angus for their attitudes either."
My Angus have not been flighty or obnoxious. This may be the result of rotational grazing - I am seen as the daily new field opener so they like me. I would think a family milk cow would get enough attention to tame her right down. On the other hand, my Angus genetics are all AI which have some temperment genetic influence (not as much as you'd see in dairy genetics since Angus cows generally aren't handled day to day so some obnoxiousness can be overlooked). I wouldn't be afraid of the Jersey-Angus cross. If anything, if milk volume is not a concern, you'd end up with a beefier calf for the freezer and probably the ability to go grain-free without excessive thinness.
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Top