The low down on keeping a family cow

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by glenberryfarm, May 18, 2005.

  1. glenberryfarm

    glenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Ohio
    Hello,
    I need help convincing my dear hubby, that keeping a family cow will not break the bank (or will it). I have the oppurtunity to get the most precious Jersey calf in 2 weeks after she is weaned. DH is really concerned that she will eat us out of house and home. He wants the low down on how much grain and hay she will need. She would be on pasture with our sheep. Here in the snow belt, hay will be the major expense through fall and winter. Is alfalfa hay the way to go?
    Currently we have 3 dairy goats, 2 of which I would sell when the Jersey freshens. I would really appreciate any ballpark figures on how much feed we would go through with a small Jersey.
    Thank you
    Faye
     
  2. Matt NY

    Matt NY Well-Known Member

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    New York
    Figure about twice as much as your three goats.
     

  3. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    We don't feed our dairy cows (Jerseys) grain. They get pasture, and hay in the winter. We only milk one at any given time, and one cow still gives enough milk for 2 families without being fed grain. We don't feed alfalfa hay, just a good mixed grass hay in the winter, but we do feed a little alfalfa pellets in the winter too. For us it's cheaper than the alfalfa hay, just depends on what you can get locally. It's much cheaper if you don't feed grain, and the milk is supposed to be much better for you. It's supposed to be healthier for the cow too. Our cows look better than they ever did when we were feeding grain. Also, we just read in Acres USA that research showed that the microbes needed to help digest grain sort of push the ones needed to digest forage aside and put them on hold while they work, supposedly displacing energy the cow would have gotten from forage with energy from grain at a 1:1 ratio. Just doesn't make sense to feed grain if you have enough forage.
     
  4. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

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    We use very little milk, so my cow mostly raises calves. She can raise 4-6 a year, so she more than pays her way.
     
  5. glenberryfarm

    glenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    I feel so sinister. All it took was taking hubby to see those big brown eyes. The sweet calf did the work for me. Welcome home baby!
     
  6. Momof8kiddoes

    Momof8kiddoes Well-Known Member

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    Mar 15, 2005
    Faye,
    figure if its a young heifer, you will not need to grain her till after she freshens (and only then if you want too...many people dont..your milk yeild wont be as high, thats about it). Do you have pasture that she can graze on? If so, and depending on how much, you may want to suppliment with some hay...maybe two bales a week. Im new to this myself, so if Im off, someone speak up...but I think that is a good ball park figure.
    The book Keeping a Family Cow (www.real-food.com) tells the low down on feed and such..might be a good investment, to get a better idea.
    One more milk cow owner in the world..by golly, for that reason alone, your dh should say yes :D
    Mary F.