Raising calf on a holstein

For the dairy folks and/or beef folks with questions about udders, milk and mastitis.
Hardin Farms
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Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Hardin Farms » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:07 am

I recently purchased 10 dairy cows from a local cattleman at what i think was a bargain. At first i had intentions of putting some meat on them and selling for a little profit. Slaughter cows are around $.60/lb around here and could make a profit there. After i got them on my farm, i noticed every cow was younger than 2yo and knew them all to be heifers. Well to make a long story short, 2 of the cows (both holsteins) were pregnant. One just calved last week with the other due any day now. Will i run into any trouble raising these calves on their mommas? will they need to be hand milked along while raising the calf? I have an angus cow/calf operation and am new to the dairy world. Just bought these cows to turn a profit and to help a friend. Thanks for any info!!



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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by farmerjan » Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:39 pm

Holstein cows will raise their own calf and if possible, you could graft 1 or 2 more on them. If they only raise their own calf, it could cause mastitis in the quarters that are not being milked, but they will eventually produce basically what the calf needs. They are bred to produce more milk, so yes, milking may be necessary for awhile. It also depends on what you are feeding them as to how much milk they will produce. Sadly with the way the dairy industry is, replacement heifers are a dime a dozen. So right now they just aren't worth much. Also is the problem that several places that used to take holstein feeders no longer do, so now all the excess bull calves are bringing less. Many dairy producers are breeding their lower half of the herd to beef bulls. That makes the calves worth more initially, but as feeders, it is going to eventually put a glut on the market and it will hurt prices down the road. Anything with dairy in it will hurt it at the market even if they make very good eating.
Holsteins eat alot to get to a marketable size, so unless you have silage to feed, it will cost. They put on alot more bone growth before they put on "meat". Most cull cows that are bringing in the $.60/lb range here are older, fleshy cull cows that will yield out a good portion. They also will have more marbling due to age and good feed.
If they are easy to handle I would try to graft another calf or 2 on them and let them raise them up, so as to not have to milk them. You will turn a small profit if they can raise 2-3 calves each. But you may have to supplement them with feed then because a holstein will milk the fat off her back for the first 90-150 days. It is the nature of the dairy breeds to go into a negative energy balance when first fresh and put their all into their milk production.
Don't know how big they were when you bought them, but realize they just don't gain like a beef animal, and it will take time for them to get to the point where they are .60/lb cull cows.

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Son of Butch » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:28 pm

Hardin Farms wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:07 am
One just calved last week with the other due any day now.
Will i run into any trouble raising these calves on their mommas?
will they need to be hand milked along while raising the calf?
Buy a couple of good strong bottle calves to nurse the excess milk.
Feed the mommas low quality grass hay and if possible limit access to water to just once or twice
a day for a couple of weeks to help prevent heavy early lactation milk production.
And you still might have to hand milk once a day to take pressure off her udder for a few weeks.

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by msplmtneer » Tue Jul 23, 2019 4:51 am

Howdy and :welcome: good luck :tiphat:
If you are going to be stupid you gotta be tough

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Hardin Farms » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:31 am

Thanks for the quick response. 5 of these cows are Brown Swiss, 4 are Holstein and 1 is a brown Swiss/Jersey cross. Cows were in extremely poor condition when i bough them, but have started making a turn around now. All except for the cow that just had the calf are looking pretty good. After speaking with the guy i bought them from, he told me they had been in the pasture with a registered polled Hereford bull. With the condition they were in, I thought there was no way they could be bred, but i guess I was wrong. Would heifer calves from the crosses of Brown Swiss/Hereford and Holstein/Hereford make good momma cows? The reason i ask is that i have some Angus/Milking Shorthorn crosses on my place that have made some of the best cows i have. My wife has fallen in love with the Brown Swiss cows which makes them even tougher to sell. I bought the cows at around $.05/lb so i don't see any way i can lose money on them and I don't mind trying them since i don't have that much in them. I have them in an old pasture we are reclaiming that has tons of fescue and bahia grass. They were AI calves from a dairy farm and were claimed to have been good stock. They have a number for the sire used on their ear tags, but i dont have any way of knowing what sire that would be by name.

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Son of Butch » Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:36 am

IF you want to start/expand your beef cow herd, it would be better to sell the resulting white face
heifer calves (maybe as bred heifers?) and take that money and buy real beef heifers/cows.
Otherwise you're left with a 1st generation of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

p.s.
Milking shorthorns are a dual purpose breed, so they give you the best odds of making beef heifers
out of a dairy breed.

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Hardin Farms » Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:51 am

Okay, okay, okay....... Geez guys, just rain on my parade! Ha! I see my best bet is going to be sell these off as they beef up a bit. I was really hoping some of these crosses might make good broodstock..

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Buck Randall » Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:33 pm

Hardin Farms wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:51 am
Okay, okay, okay....... Geez guys, just rain on my parade! Ha! I see my best bet is going to be sell these off as they beef up a bit. I was really hoping some of these crosses might make good broodstock..
How far pregnant are they? Keeping them at least until they calve might be worth it. Day old crossbred calves are worth 2-300 around here.

Brown Swiss are "beefier" than Holsteins, so that might not be out of the question if your wife really has her heart set on it. They won't be the most profitable animals you could own, but if money were the only thing that mattered you probably wouldn't be married. :lol2:

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Hardin Farms » Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:45 pm

Buck Randall wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:33 pm
Hardin Farms wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:51 am
Okay, okay, okay....... Geez guys, just rain on my parade! Ha! I see my best bet is going to be sell these off as they beef up a bit. I was really hoping some of these crosses might make good broodstock..
How far pregnant are they? Keeping them at least until they calve might be worth it. Day old crossbred calves are worth 2-300 around here.

Brown Swiss are "beefier" than Holsteins, so that might not be out of the question if your wife really has her heart set on it. They won't be the most profitable animals you could own, but if money were the only thing that mattered you probably wouldn't be married. :lol2:
Wisdom cometh forth from your mouth.. :lol2: She is indeed half partner in the farm, maybe 51% if you hear her tell it. They all should be relatively close to the same due date. I would say all due to calve by September. I'll have some spring calves to sell out of them hopefully. The Brown Swiss cows don't have the frame that most of the dairy cows around here have. All of these cows were extremely poor when I bough them. The Brown Swiss actually weren't that hard to put meat on. They have fattened up nicely. Still have some hip bone showing, but by no means do they appear frail like a Holstein does. I'll probably wait till these Holsteins calve and sell them once they get their weight back on them. The Brown Swiss.. I may give a shot to raise some replacement heifers out of. The way i see it, they're keeping me from bushogging acreage right now, so they aren't costing anything to try.

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Ky hills » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:15 pm

Hardin Farms wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:31 am
Thanks for the quick response. 5 of these cows are Brown Swiss, 4 are Holstein and 1 is a brown Swiss/Jersey cross. Cows were in extremely poor condition when i bough them, but have started making a turn around now. All except for the cow that just had the calf are looking pretty good. After speaking with the guy i bought them from, he told me they had been in the pasture with a registered polled Hereford bull. With the condition they were in, I thought there was no way they could be bred, but i guess I was wrong. Would heifer calves from the crosses of Brown Swiss/Hereford and Holstein/Hereford make good momma cows? The reason i ask is that i have some Angus/Milking Shorthorn crosses on my place that have made some of the best cows i have. My wife has fallen in love with the Brown Swiss cows which makes them even tougher to sell. I bought the cows at around $.05/lb so i don't see any way i can lose money on them and I don't mind trying them since i don't have that much in them. I have them in an old pasture we are reclaiming that has tons of fescue and bahia grass. They were AI calves from a dairy farm and were claimed to have been good stock. They have a number for the sire used on their ear tags, but i dont have any way of knowing what sire that would be by name.
I used to have some dairy cows that I bought to graft calves on to. If your dairy cows and heifers aren't to heavy of milkers then the would probably do ok to just raise their calves, or if you wanted to go the grafting route that is an option. The cows probably will not hold up udder wise very many years, but could raise a few decent calves out of beef breed bulls. I actually liked the dairy x Hereford and dairy x Angus females. They would milk heavier than a beef cow, and udders will hold up a little longer than straight dairy cow. Their calves by a beef breed bull would be 3/4 beef.

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Hardin Farms » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:29 pm

Ky hills wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:15 pm
Hardin Farms wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:31 am
Thanks for the quick response. 5 of these cows are Brown Swiss, 4 are Holstein and 1 is a brown Swiss/Jersey cross. Cows were in extremely poor condition when i bough them, but have started making a turn around now. All except for the cow that just had the calf are looking pretty good. After speaking with the guy i bought them from, he told me they had been in the pasture with a registered polled Hereford bull. With the condition they were in, I thought there was no way they could be bred, but i guess I was wrong. Would heifer calves from the crosses of Brown Swiss/Hereford and Holstein/Hereford make good momma cows? The reason i ask is that i have some Angus/Milking Shorthorn crosses on my place that have made some of the best cows i have. My wife has fallen in love with the Brown Swiss cows which makes them even tougher to sell. I bought the cows at around $.05/lb so i don't see any way i can lose money on them and I don't mind trying them since i don't have that much in them. I have them in an old pasture we are reclaiming that has tons of fescue and bahia grass. They were AI calves from a dairy farm and were claimed to have been good stock. They have a number for the sire used on their ear tags, but i dont have any way of knowing what sire that would be by name.
I used to have some dairy cows that I bought to graft calves on to. If your dairy cows and heifers aren't to heavy of milkers then the would probably do ok to just raise their calves, or if you wanted to go the grafting route that is an option. The cows probably will not hold up udder wise very many years, but could raise a few decent calves out of beef breed bulls. I actually liked the dairy x Hereford and dairy x Angus females. They would milk heavier than a beef cow, and udders will hold up a little longer than straight dairy cow. Their calves by a beef breed bull would be 3/4 beef.
Thanks for your input. Since they are first time calvers, they've never been pushed on milk production, so i'm hoping they wont be too heavy. The holstein that calved last week is still looking good as far as her udders. Her bag is full, but not hard or tight. Calf doesn't seem to bother her when it bumps either. I have read a couple of old articles on the Brown Swiss cross and I'm thinking about trying those cows for sure. We had some cows on my dads place that had to have some Holstein influence in them, they always raised really good calves, but the cows never kept much weight on them. It never hindered milk production or breeding back though, so i guess it wasn't a problem.

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by farmerjan » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:48 pm

Sad that they were in such poor shape, but good for you. It sounds like you can do okay with them since some decent feed is getting them already turned around. Since they have been "hungry" it is unlikely they will come into very heavy production. The swiss usually have a bigger frame, stouter bone structure. They can be a bit stubborn, and thick headed but usually are pretty gentle. Most make good mothers. I think after reading more of your explanation, that you ought to do just fine letting them raise their calves, as it is unlikely they will milk way too much. Perhaps on the second calf you will have some problems if they get back into good shape. If you are getting started, I would let them calve, hopefully no one will have a problem. Any that aren't pregnant, will fatten up and make a good cull to sell.
Braunvieh are a "beefy swiss" in actuality. I know 2 guys here who actually took a couple swiss cross cows off a dairy that just weren't big producers, to breed with his braunvieh, and was hoping for a bull calf to use down the road to put a little more milk in the braunviehs through retaining heifers out of the 1/2 swiss 1/2 braunvieh cross bull. He also used a swiss bull on some braunvieh heifers to get the milk production up in subsequent generations.
There are alot of things you can do with the cross calves. They won't hit the top of the market, but with so little in the cows, using them as a pasture cleanup is cheap gain. The heifer calves might make nice ones to keep. Usually the bigger problem in a beef/dairy is the holstein x hereford. They tend to have too much udder and the ligaments don't hold up for only a few lactations. But they tend to have more "beefiness" than many holstein x angus in the first generation. Holsteins have been bred to be very "dairy" or angular nowadays. The holstein fresian of the european countries is much beefier. The hol x beef cows will stay thinner as they just put more into their milk than on their bodies. The next generation 3/4 beef 1/4 hol will be meatier and put more beef on the calves and yet will still milk better due to the dairy influence. I think the swiss will stay a bit beefier for you and do a decent job of raising their calves.

I use several jersey and jersey x cows as nurse cows. I like the jerseys for the higher butterfat, and I don't have alot of trouble getting them to take calves as nurse cows. They will produce a decent angus cross calf, but it will show the finer bone of the jersey. The 2nd generation cows make good beef cows (3/4 angus 1/4 jersey). They will get a bit thin on pasture if it is not real good grass. The calf takes alot out and they milk to take care of it.

What have you got to loose? It sounds like you have a good way to make some money from several different directions.
Best of luck.

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Ky hills » Tue Jul 23, 2019 9:30 pm

farmerjan wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:48 pm
Sad that they were in such poor shape, but good for you. It sounds like you can do okay with them since some decent feed is getting them already turned around. Since they have been "hungry" it is unlikely they will come into very heavy production. The swiss usually have a bigger frame, stouter bone structure. They can be a bit stubborn, and thick headed but usually are pretty gentle. Most make good mothers. I think after reading more of your explanation, that you ought to do just fine letting them raise their calves, as it is unlikely they will milk way too much. Perhaps on the second calf you will have some problems if they get back into good shape. If you are getting started, I would let them calve, hopefully no one will have a problem. Any that aren't pregnant, will fatten up and make a good cull to sell.
Braunvieh are a "beefy swiss" in actuality. I know 2 guys here who actually took a couple swiss cross cows off a dairy that just weren't big producers, to breed with his braunvieh, and was hoping for a bull calf to use down the road to put a little more milk in the braunviehs through retaining heifers out of the 1/2 swiss 1/2 braunvieh cross bull. He also used a swiss bull on some braunvieh heifers to get the milk production up in subsequent generations.
There are alot of things you can do with the cross calves. They won't hit the top of the market, but with so little in the cows, using them as a pasture cleanup is cheap gain. The heifer calves might make nice ones to keep. Usually the bigger problem in a beef/dairy is the holstein x hereford. They tend to have too much udder and the ligaments don't hold up for only a few lactations. But they tend to have more "beefiness" than many holstein x angus in the first generation. Holsteins have been bred to be very "dairy" or angular nowadays. The holstein fresian of the european countries is much beefier. The hol x beef cows will stay thinner as they just put more into their milk than on their bodies. The next generation 3/4 beef 1/4 hol will be meatier and put more beef on the calves and yet will still milk better due to the dairy influence. I think the swiss will stay a bit beefier for you and do a decent job of raising their calves.

I use several jersey and jersey x cows as nurse cows. I like the jerseys for the higher butterfat, and I don't have alot of trouble getting them to take calves as nurse cows. They will produce a decent angus cross calf, but it will show the finer bone of the jersey. The 2nd generation cows make good beef cows (3/4 angus 1/4 jersey). They will get a bit thin on pasture if it is not real good grass. The calf takes alot out and they milk to take care of it.

What have you got to loose? It sounds like you have a good way to make some money from several different directions.
Best of luck.
I like the Angus Jersey crosses real well, but you are right they showed quite a bit of the finer boned features, that was the main reason I got my first Hereford bull. The resulting Hereford cross calves were significantly heavier, but the cross would yield an occasional brindle, not a good situation if it was a bull calf. Those half Jersey Hereford females in turn would have some real nice calves by Angus bulls.

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Hardin Farms » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:15 am

farmerjan wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:48 pm
Sad that they were in such poor shape, but good for you. It sounds like you can do okay with them since some decent feed is getting them already turned around. Since they have been "hungry" it is unlikely they will come into very heavy production. The swiss usually have a bigger frame, stouter bone structure. They can be a bit stubborn, and thick headed but usually are pretty gentle. Most make good mothers. I think after reading more of your explanation, that you ought to do just fine letting them raise their calves, as it is unlikely they will milk way too much. Perhaps on the second calf you will have some problems if they get back into good shape. If you are getting started, I would let them calve, hopefully no one will have a problem. Any that aren't pregnant, will fatten up and make a good cull to sell.
Braunvieh are a "beefy swiss" in actuality. I know 2 guys here who actually took a couple swiss cross cows off a dairy that just weren't big producers, to breed with his braunvieh, and was hoping for a bull calf to use down the road to put a little more milk in the braunviehs through retaining heifers out of the 1/2 swiss 1/2 braunvieh cross bull. He also used a swiss bull on some braunvieh heifers to get the milk production up in subsequent generations.
There are alot of things you can do with the cross calves. They won't hit the top of the market, but with so little in the cows, using them as a pasture cleanup is cheap gain. The heifer calves might make nice ones to keep. Usually the bigger problem in a beef/dairy is the holstein x hereford. They tend to have too much udder and the ligaments don't hold up for only a few lactations. But they tend to have more "beefiness" than many holstein x angus in the first generation. Holsteins have been bred to be very "dairy" or angular nowadays. The holstein fresian of the european countries is much beefier. The hol x beef cows will stay thinner as they just put more into their milk than on their bodies. The next generation 3/4 beef 1/4 hol will be meatier and put more beef on the calves and yet will still milk better due to the dairy influence. I think the swiss will stay a bit beefier for you and do a decent job of raising their calves.

I use several jersey and jersey x cows as nurse cows. I like the jerseys for the higher butterfat, and I don't have alot of trouble getting them to take calves as nurse cows. They will produce a decent angus cross calf, but it will show the finer bone of the jersey. The 2nd generation cows make good beef cows (3/4 angus 1/4 jersey). They will get a bit thin on pasture if it is not real good grass. The calf takes alot out and they milk to take care of it.

What have you got to loose? It sounds like you have a good way to make some money from several different directions.
Best of luck.
Thank you for your response again! I know it may take a couple generations, but after a little more research, i really want to try some crosses from the Swiss cows. These cows have been extremely gentle so far. My wife and kids have really taken to them. The one Jersey/Swiss cross i have is a really fine looking young cow as well. She has really put on the weight and while smaller framed, she still has a good bit more "meat" than the Holsteins.

Thinking ahead now, what would be your preferred cross? Angus/Swiss or Hereford/Swiss. I really could go wither way. My father in law also has a great looking young bull that is 3/4 Angus and 1/4 Hereford. Thanks again!

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Re: Raising calf on a holstein

Post by Hardin Farms » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:30 am

Got out in the pasture yesterday evening and got some pictures. As you can see, still a good bit of rib showing. But they arent anything like they were when i got them.

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