Post by flowerfieldfarm on Jul 8, 2011 18:54:29 GMT -5
I see there are several people here who do this on a large scale, but I couln't located any specific posts with much how-to info. We are starting a small dairy with cheesemaking facility, and culling really heavily in that herd. Instead of sending my so-so cows to the packers, I want to move them down the road a ways and raise bum feedlot or dairy calves on them. Right now I have a Black Angus/Guernsey who is out to pasture with an extra calf she takes care of, and two swisses who didn't work out, but they have to be put in the stanchion to let the babies nurse.
Can you give my the basic info of your setup and feeding system. Do you leave calves with cows or just let them in at feeding time? How long does each calf stay on the cow? Breed suggestions? I was thinking of breeding these girls to a holstein to up the productions, as they both produce less than my Jersey The black angus cross is already AI'd to a Normande, and her heifer will get to return to the dairy herd. What do you feed these girls - same as when you are milking?
I'm not large-scale, but it does take time to observe and know your treatments/illnesses and hit them quick (and have a variety of medications handy). Know what the different scours are and treatment(s).
Do you leave calves with cows or just let them in at feeding time? I bring mine in at feeding (nursing) time. This way I can check everyone over, and know everyone is eating/acting/doing fine. It sometimes takes a few days (or longer) for mama to accept her new fosters. (Kicking included)
How long does each calf stay on the cow? Depends on your plans for the cow (dry-off, etc) are and if you are selling or eating the calves. I normally let them nurse TAD for 3-4 months and then put them on OAD at 4-5 months. It takes less feed for them to transition this way (saving me $$) and I come out with a heavier/more marbled calf in the end.
Breed suggestions? Not really, but look for temperament as well. Not all cows work well as a nurse cow. I don't always view my cow as a milk machine on wheels, her well being comes first. If calves are tearing up teats, or are overly aggressive, they get weaned sooner than later.
What do you feed these girls - same as when you are milking? Yes. While the calves are nursing, the cow is eating her grain, just as if I was milking her. It's an easy way to keep on top of things while the calves are nursing. When they are done, I put udder balm/salve on her teats and make sure all is well in the udder department. We do it all again the next milking. I also like to use a weigh tape on everyone (including mama) every other week or so and keep tabs on weights. Janene
PS I'm not fostering any calves right now....this is what I've done in the past. My brother still has a couple of beefer cows in his herd that Dolly raised years ago.
I will also add: depending where you are getting calves, you can drag/introduce issues to your herd and/or calves. I've learned much over the years and am more cautious now about (as my mother would say in her stern voice) "dragging home some disease".
Daisy The new herd Queen
Nessa (Anna's heifer)
~RIP Miss Dolly~
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Proud Mother of 2 Military Sons
Post by Rhein-O-Ranch on Jul 11, 2011 18:55:28 GMT -5
Be prepared to lose calves. The first few will hurt and then you get "used" to it..... Every one that you loose will bring you closer to saving future calves. Don't let anyone tell you any different....This will be a steep learning curve. That said we find it extremely rewarding. As with all things there are steps backward for every step forward.
We have nurse cows, calves, show calves, llamas, pygmy goats, turkeys, chickens, pigs, dogs and cats on our little piece of Heaven.
This book is intended as an inspirational manual for keeping a family milk cow. A lifetime of practical experience has been bound into one volume. Practical advice for the everyday and procedures for cow emergencies. Plus, answers to FAQ's like, 'Should you get a cow?' and 'How Much Space do I need?'