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Discussion Starter #1
We are looking for a good milk cow for our family, but also one that gives good meat.

What we would like to do is have a milk cow that we breed each year (our neighbors raise Charlois and say we can breed her there)and have the calf for meat and the momma for milking.

So, what breed do I need to look at? I am wanting to use the milk to learn how to make cheese and butter and all that, we are just wanting to provide for our own family so she doesn't need to make TONS of milk, but enough for drinking with leftovers for making the butter and cheese :)

BTW.....we are a family of 8 :eek: sooooooo we do drink alot of milk and use tons of butter :)!

Thanks!

Snomama
 

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Farmer
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Jerseys are good family milk cows, but they are a pure dairy breed, not dual purpose. I would be careful about breeding to Charolais, they throw big calves.
 

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For many hundreds of years in both North America and England there was only one choice for the crofter; the Milking Devon. She is the pinnacle of perfection for the small holder. The Milking Devon cow throws a dandy beef calf, she will live and thrive on the roughest of forage, she will give enough milk for her calf and her homestead family, and she can be broke to pull the garden plow or drag in the winter's firewood. On top of all of this, she is beautiful and ong lived.

The Jersey is an excellent milk cow, but bless her dear heart she is only a milk cow.

I have two young ladies, both Milking Deovns, culled out my small herd to learn the "yoke" just now; a 13 and a 16 month old, both heifers. By next spring they will be plowing our garden and dragging a set of discs to break up our pastures and allow reseeding; if all goes well. By next fall, they will both have had their first calf and be broke to milk.

Haggis @ Wolf Cairn Moor
 

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Just to throw this out - DH and I saw a "carcass rating" chart from early this century that rated Jerseys and Guernseys as the top two for carcass quality of beef - marbling, etc. The two "problems" with these breeds, for modern beef farmers, as I understand it, are that they 1) take longer to get up to slaughter weight than other, strictly beef breeds, and 2) they have a yellow color to their fat, that doesn't go over well, since Americans are used to white fat in their meat. I have corresponded with folks who eat their Jerseys' meat and love it, but have not sampled it myself.
Good luck!
Amy
 
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"Just to throw this out - DH and I saw a "carcass rating" chart from early this century"

Was it from 2000, 2001, 2002 or 2003? Hehehehe I saw that and had to laugh Amy.

Don't you love those old farming books! I have a large collection of early books about cattle and farming...some from as early as the 1870's. Some good info for those those like doing things the old timey way.
 

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Jersey meat is excellent. They do take a little longer to get big enough for slaughter. We just put them out on pasture until they are big enough.
 

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Most people like Jersey's for home milk cows and a jersey/charolais cross bull or heifer would make very good beef. I think if you bought a jersey I would be sure she had had a few calves sucessfully before breeding her to a Charolais bull. A first calf jersey heifer might have a lot of trouble calving a big Charolais calf. A better bet from a calving ease standpoint would be a Brown Swiss, their calves make good beef but she'd be a big cow with a lot of milk for you to get rid of. But you'd still be looking at 3 or 4 gallons a day from a average Jersey, maybe more.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks so much for all of your help! Neither of us know ANYTHING about cows :)

We are new to this farming and love it so much! We mostly want to raise our own produce and meat. We are going to the fair next week and will be looking at the cows and hope to make contacts and possibly buy a good milking cow then.

I so appreciate your time in helping us to make a wise choice. We would not have known to ask about previous births, ect to make sure we don't run into problems or that the Charlois would make her throw a larger calf. THANKS!

Snomama
 

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Heck, with the size of your family, you could probably get a good old-fashioned Holstein and find use for her enormous volume of milk!

I think a larger cow like a Holstein would be a better choice for breeding to a Charolais bull.

If there are any dairy farms in your area, check to see if the farmers are culling a healthy cow because her production isn't up to snuff. A cow that gives less than 40 lbs a day (5 gals) probably won't cut the mustard in a commercial operation, but would be fine for a family cow.

You might want to consider using a milking machine ... that's a lot of milk to wring out by hand! :eek: (Especially if your hands aren't used to it ... prepare for it to hurt for awhile at first!)
 

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Willow girl makes a good point. If you are not used to hand milking it will take some getting used to. Our new Jersey is giving about 4 gallons a day but I think she's at her peak and it takes me a solid 20 minutes to make sure I get it all. It makes for a firm handshake but it will take some time to get used to.

We got our Jersy from a dairy because she has a blind quarter and was to slow in the milking parlor but for our family she is great. If you can't find a dairy near you try your state college ag exstension, that's how I found ours. They were wonderful and helped us a lot to include names and phone numbers and a lot of advice and what to expect price wise.

Jim
 

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willow_girl said:
Heck, with the size of your family, you could probably get a good old-fashioned Holstein and find use for her enormous volume of milk!

Sorry, but I disagree. For folks who are unused to farming and animals, I would definitely lean toward the smaller Jersey. We went to a farm where they were milking Holsteins and Jerseys side-by-side, and WOW! The Jersey is such a dainty thing next to the Holstein, who is roughly the size of a small car! Guernseys are almost as big, too. Holsteins can hit 1700 lbs, whereas the average Jersey is 900 lbs, according to some OTHER chart I read. (not going to quote a time period, here!) 4-5 gallons a day should feed even a family of 8! Maybe I'm just easily intimidated, but honestly, I couldn't see over the backs of those gigantic Holsteins! I never thought anything of it, when looking at a pasture of just that breed, but seeing them next to the little Jerseys made it quite remarkable!
Good luck!
 

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I have both a Holstein and a Jersey, and yes, the Holstein (even at 2, with some growing left to do) is much bigger than the Jersey.

Look, Snomama wanted enough milk for 8 people, plus butter and cheese. Yikes. That's a lot of milk. Even my husband and I easily go through a gallon a day (well, we drink a lot of milk simply because we HAVE it! :) ).

For butter, you need a lot of cream, all at once or within a couple days. Here, the Jersey wins hands-down ... I can tell the difference in my cow's milk just by looking at it. The Jersey's is yellow ... the Holstein's is white.

I haven't made cheese yet, but I believe it takes a fair volumn of milk, too.

So, let's say Snomama needs an average of 5 gallons a day, minimum. That's equivalent to about 40 pounds of milk.

Now, Jerseys are not high-producting cows. In my experience, it's going to take a pretty good Jersey to turn out that much milk over a long period of time, in addition to nursing a calf (I'm assuming).

OTOH, a commercial dairy would consider a Holstein giving 40 lbs a low producer and might even cull her!

Another idea would be to get a Jersey/Holstein cross. We have a couple on the farm where I work, one in particular is an especially nice girl. She's smaller than most of the Holsteins, but gives quite a bit of milk (she's at 95 lbs right now, but just freshened). And her butterfat content is a little higher than the purebred Holsteins, too.

Now you've got me thinking that maybe I should breed my Holstein to a Jersey bull the next time around! :D
 
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