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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:33 pm 
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I have raised chickens for 3 years now (among other birds such as ducks and geese). I have raised 2 nanny from bottle fed last Spring until now.

My son in law has been building and extension to our goat barn w/ room for 3 large stall. My daughter wants a calf so we will have a milking cow one day.

I do not know anything about raising a cow and either does she. The cow will be sharing a small pasture (if it is even big enough to be considered a pasture) w/ the future Billy goat that I hopefully will be bringing home soon. I have a separate pasture for my nannies. I will be expanding the size of the pastures over time.

I live in Northern Wi where it is not uncommon for temps to be below 20 degrees w/ very low wind chill temps. I plan on feeding the cow hay in the winter but I am sure it needs more in it's diet than that. I am needing to feed the animals cheaply as possible yet keeping them healthy.

I know there is loads of info on the net, but if anyone on here has cows or has raised them I would really like some advice and discuss. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:59 am 
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We have kept both goats and a jersey for milk for our family. There are pros and cons for both. Breeding and re-breeding is one of the biggest considerations.

If you get a family milk cow how do you intend on keeping her milk?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:42 am 
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Toshav wrote:
We have kept both goats and a jersey for milk for our family. There are pros and cons for both. Breeding and re-breeding is one of the biggest considerations.

If you get a family milk cow how do you intend on keeping her milk?


You mean as in preserving it? I want to make cheese and butter. I realize they make a LOT of milk. This is a problem I am pondering.

As far as breeding her, I want to have a vet artificially inseminate her. I hope to eventually get a bull.

How do you keep your milk?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:35 am 
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Vectorwoman wrote:
Toshav wrote:
We have kept both goats and a jersey for milk for our family. There are pros and cons for both. Breeding and re-breeding is one of the biggest considerations.

If you get a family milk cow how do you intend on keeping her milk?


You mean as in preserving it? I want to make cheese and butter. I realize they make a LOT of milk. This is a problem I am pondering.

As far as breeding her, I want to have a vet artificially inseminate her. I hope to eventually get a bull.

How do you keep your milk?




I'm sorry. I meant to say how do you intend on keeping her "in" milk. You'll need to rebreed every year or so, and we found AI (artificial insemination) difficult if you don't have a herd to determine heats. There is an extraordinary small window of fertility in cow -- about 8 to 12 hours. For us, it cost about $100 for one AI and she didn't catch. She appeared to be in heat, and probably was, but you need to get the EXACT day.

When you have a herd, it's easier to see heats. With one cow, not so much. I know one family that ran cattle and they would inseminate themselves multiple times to get it. Multiple vet visits are $$$ unless you're very, very good at determining the exact time.

Getting a bull it a good idea, IMO. It's sustainable, but it's also costly to feed both through the winter, and you need good fencing for a bull.

Do you cut your own hay?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:44 am 
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Toshav wrote:
Vectorwoman wrote:
Toshav wrote:
We have kept both goats and a jersey for milk for our family. There are pros and cons for both. Breeding and re-breeding is one of the biggest considerations.

If you get a family milk cow how do you intend on keeping her milk?


You mean as in preserving it? I want to make cheese and butter. I realize they make a LOT of milk. This is a problem I am pondering.

As far as breeding her, I want to have a vet artificially inseminate her. I hope to eventually get a bull.

How do you keep your milk?




I'm sorry. I meant to say how do you intend on keeping her "in" milk. You'll need to rebreed every year or so, and we found AI (artificial insemination) difficult if you don't have a herd to determine heats. There is an extraordinary small window of fertility in cow -- about 8 to 12 hours. For us, it cost about $100 for one AI and she didn't catch. She appeared to be in heat, and probably was, but you need to get the EXACT day.

When you have a herd, it's easier to see heats. With one cow, not so much. I know one family that ran cattle and they would inseminate themselves multiple times to get it. Multiple vet visits are $$$ unless you're very, very good at determining the exact time.

Getting a bull it a good idea, IMO. It's sustainable, but it's also costly to feed both through the winter, and you need good fencing for a bull.

Do you cut your own hay?


I am so glad you are posting because you are bringing up valid concerns that I did not know about. I did not know there was such a small window of opportunity to breed a cow. Wow. I need to rethink this plan for sure.

If tshtf I considered having a neighbor somehow breed his bull w/ our cow but that doesn't seem like it would work because I would not have a clue as to when a cow was in heat. Darn!

I definitely can't afford the expense of a heard and fencing for one.

Well thanks for the big kick in the throat! (kidding :) )

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:54 am 
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Alan said that an inseminator comes and give a the cow a pill that makes her go in heat then 4 days later comes back and inseminates her. He said maybe they don't do that anymore. I know nothing about this.

I do cut some of my own hay. It is canary grass but last year it rained almost everynight so I was unable to do it. I do it w/ a riding lawn mower and a rake. I rake it around to air dry it then put it in the barn and keep raking it around till it is totally dry. Then I bag it in large dog food bags and throw it in the barn loft. This worked well the year before last but impossible if a season is too wet.

I also buy those large round bales for 50 bucks and it is delivered.

If tshtf, I would be very unprepared as far as hay. I am considering having my brother in law building me a hay barn that will hold several bales so I would have enough on hand to last a winter (if rationed).

I am thinking I might better just stick to goats. My daughter is going to be soooo disappointed. :(

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 12:36 pm 
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If you have a neighbour that's willing to let you turn out your cow with his bull, that would be awesome. Just be careful of breed sizes. A jersey is a smaller dairy breed and would have a hard time calving if you bred her to a large bull. You would have to breed her to another jersey or a small beef type like an angus.

It's worth it to query a vet on AI procedure, costs, etc. Then you can probably get a specific breed semen, even sexed semen that would give you a greater chance at getting a heifer.

You can see heats without other cows (ours would try to mount our horse!), it's just not that easy to pin point exact days of ovulation. If you get let your cow hang out with a bull for about a week during her heats (which occur about every 21 days, I think), then she has a greater chance of catching.

As for hay -- how much do those big bales weigh? Our cow would go through about 4 - 60# bales, and one 50# bag of grain a week. The bales were $5 each, the grain about $15. So it cost us about $140/month in feed -- Make it $150/month if you count salt blocks, etc. So that would be at least $1,320 ($900 for 6mos of cold seasons + $420 for 6 mos of warm seasons) per year for us to feed, not including vet bills/ai costs/whatever.



I'm all for the dairy cow, btw. If you can work out the logistics and if the cost is worth it to you. I believe goat milk is healthier, but if you get an A2 breed like a jersey or guernsey, the raw milk would be very nourishing.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:17 pm 
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Alan just told me that the neighbor does not have a bull that no one around here has bulls that it is much cheaper to use artificial insemination verses feeding costs so the shtf idea is out.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:45 pm 
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Vectorwoman wrote:
Alan just told me that the neighbor does not have a bull that no one around here has bulls that it is much cheaper to use artificial insemination verses feeding costs so the shtf idea is out.



Yes. It's not really worth keeping a bull unless you have longer warm seasons, a lot of good pasture and plan on eating him. That would be one way to make it worth it: Buy a bull in the spring, use him to breed, process him in the fall to fill your freezer. Then you don't have to feed him through the winter and have plenty of beef until next year. Of course, all this depends on how much you could get a bull and how much it costs to butcher him.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:51 pm 
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Here you can't get a vet to AI unless you have a herd. We did find a reputable freelance AIer who does herds but was willing to do one family cow. If you can get someone who is willing to do just one cow, then that would be good. The problem is you have to get the right day and if they don't catch, you're waiting for another three weeks. You could get the AIer to come and do it a few times over a few days just to be sure, but for us it was cost prohibitive. He charged for every insemination.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:37 pm 
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Thanks for all the useful info. It sure gives us a lot to think about.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 2:22 pm 
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And don't forget to include the cost of vaccines. You will need to contact someone in your state to learn the requirements as well as the schedule. Most folks that I know, do their own. You also need to become aquainted with common cow ailments (like pink eye) and how to treat it. There are many ways to treat it depending on the severity of it. And other issues as well.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:34 pm 
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When I was a kid, we kept a bull in the back pasture for a neighbor. That scary sumbitch that we briefly kept was about the extent to my experience in actually raising cattle, for he would charge us kids, snort and stomp, and made no "bull" about trying to gore us at the fence posts; while the bovine brethren were all around me growing up in the neighbors' pastures, especially Black Angus and Charolais; and my grandparents in Bushead, Oklahoma, raised a massive herd of Holsteins, and they were dairy farmers. Lots of land is definitely a must if you want to raise them "free range," which means that your herd must rotate in and out of different plots of acreage that sit fallow and grow grasses and herbs for their calories, etc. In the winter, alfalfa or Timothy hay is a must. A good front end loader is pretty much necessary as well if you have quite a number of cattle because they poop everywhere like nobody's business, and you need to keep the stalls clean from hoof and mouth diseases, etc.

My two cents...


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 8:32 pm 
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When I saw this I thought it was fitting to post it here. I never realized how smart cows can be. :)

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10 ... nref=story

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 8:33 pm 
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I have a question. Is it ok to have 1 cow and 1 bull or do bulls need more cows to service?

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:56 pm 
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Vectorwoman wrote:
When I saw this I thought it was fitting to post it here. I never realized how smart cows can be. :)

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10 ... nref=story


Wow, that's crazy! I never knew cows were that smart either! :)


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:26 pm 
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Vectorwoman wrote:
When I saw this I thought it was fitting to post it here. I never realized how smart cows can be. :)

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10 ... nref=story



Wow. :D

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:17 am 
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If I'm not mistaken, when you are raising cattle for your own meat and milk supply, you keep TWO cows. When one is pregnant, the other is milking. So, you always have at least three. When the baby of one cow has reached butchering age, there should be a new calf on the ground so that you can butcher a beef per year. More if your family size and appetite require it. You'll have to examine which breed works best for both milking and meat production. If you were to use just a milking variety, you could end up with this huge beef full of bones with very little meat compared to a different variety which produces more compact bones and more muscle (meat).

If you're going to pay for feed to raise this critter, you want the feed conversion to go toward meat production. And then, butchering fees..you don't want to be spending the money to have this thing butchered and packaged and only get a 40% meat ratio because it all went to bones and hide. You want to aim for 70% useful product. Since you're going to be handling this animal daily, you also want something with a gentle temperment, however mama cows are definitely fiercely protective of their young! Remember my son in law who broke his neck? It was a mama cow protecting her baby that butted him into the air only to land on his head. This man has been raising cattle ALL of his life, it's what he does for a living.

And TJ is correct about pasturage. In your area, your pastures may get thick enough to support 15 cows to the acre, however, your season is short so you're going to have to buy hay to feed them for the majority of the year. In OK, pasture is open most of the year, and they have a longer growing season, but the grass is sparse enough that one may only be able to raise 2 cows to the acre. And in the winter, one has to feed hay. If you don't have pasturage enough to grow grains and hay, your feed bill is going to be fairly stout. Possibly cheaper if you can find someone who raises cattle grains and silage who can grind at the field and mix whichever formula you may be needing at the time.

Then, you have to consider loosing the mother. How familiar are you with hand rearing a calf and all that goes with it? And of course the converse is also something to consider. Mom is ok, but you loose the calf. Can you afford to absorb the cost of the loss?

You could end up feeding cattle for a few years, with no beef for the freezer.

There's a lot to consider. It's most likely much cheaper and less work intensive to raise goats for milk, and hunt for venison. Buy some fresh whole milk from a functioning dairy, and see if you can trade something you raise for some home grown beef. Become an expert at making goat cheeses and spreads for example, so you have some fresh goat milk and cheese to sell/trade along with some eggs and veggies. Learn to make goat milk soaps and sell/trade those, also.

I once knew of a man who insisted he raised cattle when in fact he raised rabbits. He traded pound for pound rabbit meat for beef. :)

just my 2 cents worth...food for thought!


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