mini jersey

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Hello, I'm new to this forum I had asked a dairy question on Poultry and Livestock and couldn't find anyone with dairy cows. After searching I found this and the Homesteading forum. I hoping some of you will take pity on my ignorance and help me out.lol

We have 100 acres that we lease out for beef cattle. The pastures are rotated and baled but not cultivated/sown. I have very little experience with cows and no experience with dairy breeds. I have been researching online the smaller heritage breeds and the mini jersey.

Any help or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated, remember I'm new to this so speak simple. My biggest concern at the moment is nutrition.I would like to raise them self-sufficiently as possiable. I keep reading that jerseys covert protein better. Does that mean the don't need as much protein or they just consume less in bulk? Can they be grass fed only if the grass protein is high, what should the percentage be? I'm assuming I would take a bale sample to Ag office or send to a lab. Is this correct?

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I haven't had experience with grass fed dairy cows.
The person to ask is Kathleen in New York. They milk 50 some cows on grass pasture.
This is her member page.
http://davesgarden.com/members/Kathleen/

Sounds like you are starting off right!
Have a Great Day!
Bernie

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Thanks Bernie, I expected anyone with dairy cows to be busy and take while to answer :0) I think I found my answers or a place where I can have my questions answered, just thought I'd ask the DG family first.

You have a good day too!

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Hi. I had seen this post, but as you said, we've been extremely busy. I also hesitated to answer because the breeds that you are considering have different nutritional needs than the Holsteins that we have. Cows eat grass and they do it very efficiently. Our girls are quite heavy producers giving an average of 22,000 pounds of milk per cow a year. We do supplement our haylage and hay with a minimal amount of ground corn and a protein and mineral supplement added to the haylage.

I'm glad that you found a site that can answer your specific questions. If there are any points that I may be able to help you with, let me know.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Hi Kathleen, thank you so much for your reply. I can't even imagine 22,000 pounds.lol
And I think a single Holstein would produce more then we could use. But I'm not closed to the idea of another breed. Still have much learning to do. I ordered 'Keeping a Family Cow' yesterday. Will be reading up for the next few months while getting a milking area, shelter and such set up. I'm sure to have questions along the way and appreciate your time.

Hopefully it won't be too long before I'm back with pictures :0)

Jacksonville, TX(Zone 8b)

Coco_lulu,

We (as you now know) are working toward total grass-fed (or otherwise total self-sufficient) farm. Jersey's seem to be mostly suited for this, for our climate. Northerners would have a lot more trouble. Our #1 pick is Normandy. There is one Normandy dairy in the area, but she won't sell unless you are willing to purchase a number of them at a time :( Evidently, for our area, Normandys are the #1 pick for grass-fed- both dairy and beef. For that matter, good luck finding anyone to sell one-on-one in the area!

Our goal for right now is to do the best we can. Daisy needs a bit more than just grass can give her, especially this time of year, and with a calf. So, we supplement with grain. By planning ahead, we believe that we can do even better next year, possibly even eliminating bringing feed into the farm. We "lucked out" this year and found a source for organic hay for very reasonable, so we bought that as well. Normandys are also a smaller breed like Jersey's, so we plan to cross them for our own line. Of course, this is way down the road.

Little by little, we figure we'll reach our goal. It's hard not to get overwhelmed, but we just set little goals to get to where we want to be.

Other books that we've found helpful for the grass fed is : All Flesh is Grass, and Grass- Fed Cattle. Those books aren't dairy specific, but they have still been a great help. I also frequent
http://familycow.proboards32.com/index.cgi
Many of their members are grass-fed/naturalists. I've found quite a bit of help there (although I don't post). We've found it _very_ difficult to find info, but we're piecing it together a little at a time. Then, we're just jumping in- learning as we go :)

Coco_lulu, did you go to the livestock auction today?

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

No time for auction today and closed for Thanksgiving, we are planing on going Dec 4th.


Trish, Thank you for the book suggestions. Being cattle country, our local library may have them available. I'll run by later and see. I found the Family Cow site and it has helped a great deal putting the pieces together. I haven't posted there either, I have enough trouble keeping up with one site :0) I'm incredibly excited to watch you both start this process. It's been a dream of mine for years to have a dairy cow and like you said, slowly but surly things are falling into place.

The Normandy breed is beautiful! I can see I need to read up on them as well.lol


Kathleen, are your barn floors concrete?
Our next project is to get the milking area ready. We have a stanchion that I think we can move to another building. The building I want to use is closer to house. I was told it was once used to medicate calves. It has a concrete floor that has what looks to me as purposely made pattern in the cement. The pattern looks like small sets of speed bumps no more then half an inch high. Do you think a cow would have a steady enough footing in there?

Edited to say, I only plan on milking her in that building, not boarding her for any length of time.

This message was edited Nov 20, 2008 2:59 PM

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

The speed bumps were probably put down for traction. Cows on smooth cement might as well be on ice. Our barn floor is cement. The older part was done to a fare-thee-well for smoothness and we were forever putting down calcite or sawdust so the cows had something to grip onto. A couple of years ago, we had an outfit come in and score a diamond pattern the length of the main floor. It was only because they were in the area that they did it for us, we are technically under their size minimum. We have a tie stall barn, the cows are where they are until we turn them loose, and on the bed under the cows we currently have mattresses filled with recycled rubber tire crumbs over the cement. Unfortunately, they have pretty much hit their usable life's end. Stan bought some mats to put down, but that's a story that you'll have to wait to read in the Fall Work edition of the Dairy Farmer's Journal!

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Great, we'll start work on the milking area. I can't say for sure we'll purchase a cow on the 4th, it would be nice to be ready...just in case;0)

I keep watch for your Fall edition!

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