What about Holsteins?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by valschickens, Dec 24, 2004.

  1. valschickens

    valschickens Big Brother's Watching

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    With 3 acres, if I could have a cow it would be a Holstein!! Short of a better word, do they make "good pets"? I read the other thread about Herefords, but my personal pref are the black & white Holsteins...they are just too cute! Lots of work? Gentle? Thank you for your personal input!!

    Val
     
  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    MERRY CHRISTMAS

    To make a pet out of most any cow is easier if you start petting them when they are young. Counting on you for a treat makes you their buddy.
     

  3. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    Okay I had a huge rant , but I deleted it all to say a Holstein may be too big and eat too much to have as a pet. Some are really nice, most are not. Maybe some ole Ma and Pa dairy will let you retire their favorite old cow. After devoted many years to them, I prefer to retire them at the golden arches
     
  4. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    It depends on the individual cow. And, they wouldn't like to be alone since they are herd animals.
     
  5. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    That is something I hate about the dairy industry. :(

    A cow puts 200,000 pounds of milk into the tank, turning a nice profit for her owner, and delivers up some heifer calves to continue the herd, and her reward at the end is to be knocked over the head and turned into hamburger.

    :confused:

    Sorry but I just don't see how any good can come of that. :no:

    (Of course, that is why I am the proprietor of Willowgirl's Home for Wayward Holsteins! ;) )
     
  6. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    These wold be Holstens that "go all the whey?"




    I could't help it. :(
    :yeeha: Mea Culpa. Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa.
     
  7. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    A Quaker (pacifist) farmer had an old cow with a bad temper. One day she kicked him one too many times. He stood up, pushed his had back on his head and announced ... "Thee knows I will not beat thee. And thee knows I will not harm thee. But I'll sell thee to that Methodist down the road and he'll beat the @#$$% out of thee!"

    (In the spirit of extreme helpfulness ;)

    Ann
     
  8. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    I have only experience with one cow, so this may not be worth much, but she is a holstein and is the sweetest creature around. I've owned her since she was 5 weeks old, bottle fed her, and spent lots of time with her. She is big and she does eat alot, but I'd be hard pressed to find another as sweet as her. I don't know if her sweetness has anything to do with being a holstein, genetics in her disposition, or the bond between her and me. It seems like quite a few people have sweet jerseys too.

    Just remember on the pet end, you will want to breed her... these gals are noisier than heck when they are in heat.
     
  9. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Haggis, you are bad! :haha:

    Ann, that was funny! :haha:

    OK (trying to be helpful here this time around): I do think genetics has something to do with disposition. I have noticed certain 'lines' at the commercial dairy where I work tend to be naturally friendlier than others. None of these cows get much in the way of socialization with people (i.e., love and attention) and they pretty much run the gamut of being absolutely terrified of people, to being friendly enough that you can walk right up and pet them.

    One of the culled cows I bought off the farm (Christine) falls in the latter group. Her mother is a sane and friendly cow. Ironically Christine was culled because of her bad behavior ... kicking in the parlor and breaking through fences. She has settled down a bit here. She still tends to be obnoxious and pushy, though, although in a friendly sort of way (ha). The other cow I brought home (Twister) was very timid of people, still is. She is an older girl so I don't know if she'll ever come to trust us. I have gotten her to the point where she will at least sniff and lick my hand. My Jersey-cross heifer calf, Libby-Belle, has been given a lot of attention and is very friendly and accustomed to being handled. (She will wash your face if you let her. :) )

    It is not a bad idea to try to buy a Holstein from a commercial dairy. Often the farmers cull them when they get long in the tooth and production drops. Make some inquiries if there are any dairies in your area. A herd dispersal auction is another route. Be wary of cows consigned to the sale from other farms, though ... if a farmer is getting rid of just a couple of cows, there is probably a reason why.

    Having a cow that is calm, friendly and easy to handle is a real blessing on a small farm. I don't think that can be overemphasized!
     
  10. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I have heard temper is a heritable trait, and believe it to be true. Some cow families we had were much more people-oriented and some did not want to be bothered at all.

    About 13 years ago DH had a very sharp 2-year-old Holstein heifer from a young sire (she classified 87 -- as I recall she was a Logic daughter) and the bull stud inquired about photographing her for an ad. Fine and dandy until we realized she was one of those "Don't mess with me, I want to EAT!" cows and someone was probably going to get hurt trying to halter break her in advance of getting her photographed. Not aggressive, but not cooperative and not a pet!

    We have a beef heifer now that is almost TOO friendly. I like a 1,500 pound animal to respect my personal space.

    Happy New Year!
    Ann
     
  11. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You know what...this hits so close to home..and not just because we are Quaker farmers and not just because my father uses Plain language...lol

    Hoolie has been threatened more than once because of her bad temper. But usually they are threatened with heading to the sale barn.....
    I myself have threatened many an animal and rarely follow through...though at times a swift slap makes me feel better and is just enough for some of them....lol

    I'm not sure how hereditary it all is. Elisif is out of Bakatrey and Bakatrey was a big sweetheart! Elisif, however, is a nightmare and we have to keep in the barn since we brought her in a month ago. the other cows have had a couple of chances to get outside but we have kept her (along with some other cows) inside for fear she would run away like she did when she was close to calving.
    The thing about Elisif is that she falls into an age group where we had 13 calves in four months and space for maybe 8 in the barn. Her age group was shuffled outside fairly early and so we did not tame them as much as we normally do. That handling as a youngster can make a huge difference! Which is why I love having fair heifers.lol It is a pain to train them but when they get out I can put a halter on them and they follow me along.

    If you are going the pet direction I would go for a steer rather than a heifer or cow. A heifer or cow will come into heat and some can be very vocal and if there is a bull within reach will try and break through anything to get bred. A steer shouldn't be nearly as ornery.
     
  12. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    You could take a heifer that might be a year old, or a cow that is two and if she wasn't overly friendly, you can tame them. Remember folks, some people have tamed deer, wild deer. There is a guy that lived somewhere north of me (quite a ways) and he had a herd of deer that would come up to him as if they were pets. Anyways!


    We typically have some calves that are born out in the pasture, the calves are not friendly at all. When we band the males, its a challenge catching them. When we do, we tackle them and put the band on. Well we brought these guys across just prior to regular season (I don't trust some road hunters). It has been 1.5 months and they are getting friendly. I figure by Feb 1st they will be friendly. What we do is work around them every single day, as we are feeding grass silage. Sometimes we corner them, and let them realise we are not going to hurt them. Usually a cow or calf that isn't friendly doesn't understand the intentions of us humans, they tend to think "are they danger?". So they run away. I have also found "shock" treatment to work. No this is not electric shock, it involves an aggressive approach. I will catch a calf that is not friendly out in the pasture, tackle him/her down. I will do this about 12 or so times, by the 12th time they usually are friendlier, as I don't hurt them doing that. They realise I am not danger, and they begin to trust you. We have a Jersey, she was bottle fed for a while, then put out to pasture with her "mother" (the "mother" lost her calf, we stuck two Jerseys on her). The one Jersey being a heifer did get kinda skiddish. She would not let you close, she would move away from you. What I did was catch her, made her realise im not going to hurt her, then let her go. Now she is sooooo friendly, I can reach under to what will be her udder, and she will lift her leg up like a dog. I can sit on her back if I wanted, she won't move. We have a couple other cows that do that. Best of all! They know their boundries. If I put a halter on the Jersey, she hates it, and will fight but she is manageable. Some of the beef cattle dont like it, but I just tighten the halter, and they mind.


    But with making a pet out of any animal requires patience if you don't do it early, it requires the build up of trust. I've studied these animals, and even birds sooo much just by watching them. I can tell when they are alert and aren't alert or scared. A cow has instincts that make them react in either a bad way, or good. But as far as holsteins? I have noticed there is a distinct difference in personality from a Jersey to a Holstein to a Hereford to a Ayrshire and so on. Holsteins have a curious personality and for some reason they like to chew on your clothes. Every single friendly holstein ive been around, does this. Now not one of our Jerseys we had, or the one we currently have ever did that. The herefords the same way. Now Herefords tend to have a relaxed look, they seem to only look overly alert when they are spooked. However they generally look relaxed. A Jersey however has bright eyes, looks at everything, and can get into trouble sometimes. Now when you cross a Jersey with a Hereford you get an animal with a Jersey type disposition, yet the gentleness of a hereford. We have one, she is very timid, and she does this moan type moo if she doesn't like you bothering her. She won't kick, just does a moan. But every single one of these animals have their own personality. The one that I just mentioned calved at 14 months (bull got with her by accident), that calf now cow is soooo friendly, she would NEVER kick you. She will push through you, and this is one you can sit on. Of course she hates it, but does not buck, just swats at you like a fly. When she was 6 months old I could lay her on her side when she was lying down. I was able to do this last year as well, and she was 3 then. She is very trusting. The 2nd calf out of the jersey/hereford cross (to make it easier the name is Aquarius), has a unique personality. She is very aggressive, she is the only one to fight a bull and win. She fought a bull we bought one spring, she fought him that entire day he came, into the next, she wasn't done tho. He kept walking away, she kept butting him in the grits, was amusing. She is the size of a Jersey as well. She had trouble with her first birth and was down with the vet, myself and my mother working on her for 5-6 hours. She got up after the ordeal (calf did die), and had no problems at all. She had a calf this past spring, no problems. Her name is Vildy. She will stand next to one of our other cows and but her either in her grits, or stomach untill that cow moves. She is a **** pot, but a good cow. The others are fairly relaxed. The oldest cow shakes apples of the trees, she watched us do that. One time we were shaking apples, and she was over on another tree shaking. Funny part is, people say cows are stupid, sure!!.


    To be honest with you, id pick a holstein over a Jersey or a hereford for a pet. I say this because, from my observations, holsteins can be mellow, and they will follow you around. The place where im buying 4 of my holsteins had one that was following me around while she told us of some of them. Ive never seen Jerseys, or Herefords do this. Besides, holsteins put color on your lot.

    As far as feed? We are feeding our herefords as much feed as you feed a milk cow. I estimated 60-65lbs a day average per animal. This is grass silage and baled hay.

    But saying you get a holstein, work with that animal, but don't over do it. Make it tame, let it, let you, lift up its back hooves if possible. IF it allows you to do that, it trusts you. But don't baby it, it will not know its boundries and if its a big ol 1500lb animal, it will knock you down one day thinking "lets be friends" and step on you by accident. HOWEVER! Cows do tend to watch where they step. Our one cow (Cleopatra, the cow that lets you sit on her) wont step on you. I tackled down one of her calves, in a pen. She was very carefull of where she stepped. But dont take this as if every animal does so. Just work with it, make it tame, earn its trust, but dont over do it :).



    Jeff
     
  13. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    JeffNY, wish you could come visit the two farms I work on...lol
    I can't get away from some of our heifers out in the field. Nicolass (around 18 months now) will find me when I am out doing chores and will not leave me alone! She pushed, nibbles, rubs up against, and walks in my way..much like an annoying dog or cat would (we have plent yof overly friendly cats as well). She isn't only one....if you go out in our field you have animals of different ages coming up and seeing what you are doing.
    Jerseys are touted as the smartest breed of at least dairy cattle and so they can get into a lot of trouble and can appear to be more ornery than most.
    Over at the school farm, where I have been working on the weekends for less than a year, if I go out on the lot and mosy around a good third will through to get up next to me and 906 was actually chewing and licking my coat when I was out with a downed milk fever case.

    Just wanted to point out that there are Jerseys who do the same. ;)
     
  14. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Hmm, maybe the Jerseys we have had don't do it because they are used to my coat smells and tastes, or have access to that taste. Because the 3-4 we had, never seemed interested, actually all of them didn't. But like I said, perhaps its a new smell or taste.


    But isn't it lovely when a over friendly cow wants to ram you either in the back or ass because it is being friendly? Some of ours like to itch their head, and damn that hurts when they start getting rough.


    Jeff
     
  15. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    This has been a fun thread, Jeff I enjoyed your post. :)

    My Jersey cow Dawnna who died was a real character. After her calf started getting big, I'd let her out of the pasture every morning to graze in the yard, then milk her in the afternoon and put her back with the calf.

    She always stayed close to home, although sometimes she would mosey over to the neighbor's yard (they didn't mind, they called her "the neighborhood cow").

    She did develop an ... interesting ... habit, though. My husband's workshop is in a garage attached to the house. If the garage door was open, she would invariably go in there and poop on the floor. Then she started doing the same thing at the neighbor's! :eek: They called me and I went over and cleaned it up. I started watching, and if their garage door was open when I let her out, I'd go across and shut it. One day she pushed the service door open, though, and went in and "left her calling card." I swear she was doing this on purpose! :haha:

    My husband says one day he was sitting in the living room and heard the door to the garage open, and looked up to find Dawnna with her head stuck in the living room, staring at him! The latch on the door was broken so it didn't close properly ... she pushed it with her head and it opened. He swears if he hadn't been there to chase her off, she would have come right into the house, and I wouldn't doubt it. :)

    She was a neat cow. I sure miss her. :waa: