Raise a calf vs. buy a yearling??

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by allenslabs, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. allenslabs

    allenslabs Saanen & Boer Breeder

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    I was wondering what everyones thoughts are raising a calf vs buying a yearling. Is it worth the money to buy a yearling or buy a cheaper calf and raise if for 9 months to hit the same age? I've found a yrling jersey/holstein cross for $600 and 2 little jersey bottle calves for $650 for the pair and hubby thinks it would be best to get the bottle calf and save the $. But the cross is right down the rd and tame and the calves are in FL and we live in IN and we go there once a month or 2 to haul hay to a stable but I think it would be about the same $ in the end by the time we bottle feed and feed it and would most likely have a vet fee and stuff. Just thought it would be good to get everyone elses opinion as I'm new to the whole raising bottle babies and dairy cows. I'm good w/ angus and horses but not dairy! HAHA! Anyway........... thanks for the help
     
  2. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    How old are the bottle babies? Jerseys are the hardest breed I know of to bottle raise. They are very frail, get sick easy, and are so tiny they don't have much reserve to help them get over an illness. You would probably actually save money buying the yearling. Especially if you consider your time and the potential hassle and heartache of dealing with the bottle babies.
     

  3. allenslabs

    allenslabs Saanen & Boer Breeder

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    The babies are about 1 month or less. I've heard the Jersies are a frail breed. Thanks alot for the info!
     
  4. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    If you're wanting to have a dairy cow in the end, you might even find it more worth your while to buy a bred cow or cow/calf. With the bottle babies, you'll likely see some mortality but it is a lot of hassle and cost at the very least. With heifers, they're unproven and you can have calving issues that cost you in the long run (immature heifers breed later and generally the potential for calving problems). If my choices were only the two you present, I'd take the yearlings over the babies cause they're well on their way.
     
  5. Wanda

    Wanda Well-Known Member

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    If those jersey bottle babies are bulls they are worth no more than $50-75 on a good day!!!!! Bottle babies take a lot of specialized care to thrive. I would buy the yearling and forget about the babies. If you want to try a baby later when the weather is better spend your time on a holstien or a beef calf, same amount of work and trouble for a lot more return.
    Mr Wanda
    Mike
     
  6. farmerdan

    farmerdan Well-Known Member

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    I raised Jerseys for years and only lost one calf. The mother freshened early on one of the coldest nights of winter. The calf was in the gutter and the mother was in a tie stall so couldn't get to it. I wouldn't say that a Jersey calf is frail at all. Give them a belly full of colostrum and keep the drafts off them and they are bound to thrive. Come on you other Jersey farmers, you know exactly what I mean!
     
  7. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm am always a little suprised at how frail everyone thinks Jersey calves are! Our mortality rate for our calves is next to nil...especially bottle babies. We are more likely to lose a calf left with its mother than if we take care of it ourself.

    In the last five years we have lost maybe three healthy full term calves...did lose a couple outside to the weather (one born day after Christmas, one born in late January, but most likely DOA and one right before a thunder storm and momma hid her before giving her colostrum), lost three calves this year and the other four lost were all deformed in one way or another, for various reasons. Other than those the calves, if bred correctly are quite strong. You have to know how to take care of bottle babies though.
    Admittedly, there is a bit of inbreeding in the Jersey bulls available and it takes them longer to stand than most, but if you get that colostrum in them adn get them up and going they should do fine.

    As far as which ones you should take. A cow already in milk with a history is worth the money. You can buy that yearling and she may never settle, or she may have only one working quarter, etc. If you buy the two bottle babies, you are better off if one tunrs out poorly.

    However, the man who has raised only the cow and her calf probably has taken very good care of her and was very attentive when she was born. Depending on where the two calves are coming from (how large a farm) they may not have gotten the best start.

    Eh, I dunno. My father does not like to sell heifers before they have calved a first time. You never know how they are going to turn out until they calve.
     
  8. allenslabs

    allenslabs Saanen & Boer Breeder

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    I guess I should give all the history I know on these guys to get a fair opinion. So here goes
    The calves~ Getting from a fella who is getting them at one day old from a dairy farm. The fella seems really honest and loves animal. I know NOTHING of the dairy they were born at or if they got any colostrum. I can only pray on that one. We live approx 1000 miles from where they are and it's a 16-17 hr drive and they are heifers.
    The yearling~ She will be 1 on Feb23 this yr and the guy said she was just in heat. She's VERY tame but hasn't had a halter on in a while. The owner is amish and milks her mom and raised the heifer. I buy tack there and stopped to ask if he knew of any for sale and he thought and said "well i got one out in the barn I guess I could sell. hadn't thought about it really" So then I went out there and her and her mom are the NOSIEST and friendliest cows you ever saw! hilarious!
    So anyway there is some info on both thoughts I have
     
  9. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    At the price of gasoline you're gonna spend the difference just going to get the calves. I would definitely buy the heifer or keep looking closer to you if you want to get bottle calves. I've bottle raised a lot of calves over the years and that's a good way to go but I wouldn't travel a thousand miles to get one.
     
  10. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    All the Jersey bottle babies we raised were brought in from outside. From a few different farms. Maybe they are just less hardy if you move them from where they were born. The holsteins we raised were just always tougher, if they got sick they always recovered. We never lost one of them. The jersey babies born on our farms have never had a problem, but we let them stay on the mom and share the milk till weaning.
    For allenslabs: When a calf gets colostrum, the colostrum has antibodies in it from what that particular cow has been exposed to. When you move the calf to a different place they could be exposed to something they didn't get antibodies for.
     
  11. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you do go with the yearling, do not breed her before she is 15 months. I know the guy told you you could and it would keep her small, but there is a reason it would. It could stunt her growth and it isn't safe for the heifer herself.
     
  12. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    That 16-17 hour drive is going to be really hard on a couple month-old calves. I'd go with the yearling. Jersey-Holstein crosses are great cows! We have several on the farm where I work; they tend to be more compact than a Holstein, which is great for a small farm. Friendly also is good, and I'm sure that farmer will give you advice/assistance should you run into problems. $650 for a heifer isn't dirt cheap, but it isn't outrageous either. You will have a couple months to line up someplace to get her bred. I'd say go for it! :D
     
  13. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    It all depends on you, if you want to spend the money to raise a calf (milk replacer, etc). Or do you want an animal off of milk, and only needs water/grain and hay. Both routes cost money, BUT! The later costs less for the first year. Since your not feeding milk replacer. The animals I recently bought are all weened. I did not want to get into milk replacer, as I wanted to feed out hay, haylage/corn meal mixed, and of course their water. What it costs me to feed them, is a lot cheaper and not as time consuming as a calf. We have bottled fed calves to 3 months (we like to keep them going till then, everyone has their own methods). But my prefrence, for buying something, would be something over 3 months of age. Ideally 3-12 months...


    Jeff
     
  14. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Just wanted to comment on that. Keyword is COULD stunt her growth, but does not mean it will. We had a Jersey/Hereford cross (her body is w/o a doubt like a Jersey, but her udder is lacking like a hereford). She had a calf at 14 months, yes that is right. Now this happened because she was in with the bull (with her mother, as with any of them), and she came into heat at an extremely young age. Any of our others we have, do not. So this was a fluke, yes it has happened elsewhere, but it can happen. But with her growth? HA! She grew to be as big as her mother @ 14 months, actually she was bigger. Her mother was a Jersey. The calf this one had, is now 5 yrs old and expecting her 3rd, the cross as mentioned will be having her 6th calf this spring. Her growth was not stunted.. But as mentioned it "Could", and that is keyword. That 14 month old calving was the last. Problem is, Jerseys mature earlier and apparently she did just that. But with farming you learn new things all the time.. So as far as breeding age? Jerseys calving at 1 yrs 10 months to 2yrs is average. Some farms breed based on weight, some breed based on age. From what I keep seeing, some say 18-22 months calving, while others like 24-26 months, and some breed when the heifer is at 900 lbs. A lot of opinions out there, but ideally 2 yrs is good.


    Jeff