Homesteading dairy cow

For the dairy folks and/or beef folks with questions about udders, milk and mastitis.

Homesteading dairy cow

Postby kickinbull » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:11 pm

We have a neighbor with a family cow that comes to us for advise about cow since we have a small dairy farm. They don't/won't feed grain only good quality hay while milking and rotated pastures. They let the calf nurse the cow and take the rest of the milk for thier family.The cow freshened in early May and now she has lost a lot of weight/condition. I would like to recommend something to give the cow but I am at a loss. I feed corn, which they are apposed to. Does anyone know what they can use, will something like oats give the cow enough energy? What else? Thanks.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby piedmontese » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:26 pm

I got a jersey that we put 4 calves at a time on and we giv her 20% cubes and corn.12 lbs a day.shes workin hard for me and i dont mind helpin her out.have your neighbors wormed ther cow?
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby regolith » Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:07 am

Who is worried about the cow's condition - you or them?

Without knowing why/what they are opposed to regarding grain feeding, there isn't an easy answer. Oats, wheat, barley, corn - they'll all do the job, molasses is a great energy supplement, byproducts like vegetable waste, distillers grains can work.
By preference, I would try to source molasses or a grain-based feed to supplement spring grass. It *probably* won't help her condition but could improve her production and chances of getting back in-calf.

The needs of the grass/high-production animals in rotational grazing are antagonistic to a degree. To fully feed an early lactation cow, if she's on daily shifts she should be leaving a reasonable number of clumps behind. Those will then need to be cut or grazed (by less energy-demanding stock) to maintain the pasture quality when she returns to the paddock.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby kickinbull » Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:28 am

I am the one who is worried. They are friends of ours and we have adopted their cow also. I want to be able to bring up the subject that their cow is loosing condtion too fast and I know they won't entertain any ideas about corn. They are after grass based milk. With our relationship I know they will be asking shortly why the cow is not cycling and loosing milk production. I think they are using DE as a wormer. The cow is the lead animal in their rotation followed by sheep and then horses. Plus they clip to keep it fresh. Thanks again.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby piedmontese » Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:44 am

are they giving her mineral? i have loose mineral out for my cattle at all times.1 bag of mineral will go a long time for a few animals.purina wind and rain is a good mineral and is around $22 a bag.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby TexasBred » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:39 pm

Sounds like they willnot feed any grain regardless....do they fertilize?? That would increase the protein in the grass but grazing will always be a low energy diet so as long as they push her hard she's not likely to imporove much in body condition. Keep in mind that dairy cattle are not suppose to be fat.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby chippie » Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:32 pm

Let me guess, they are into being "all natural" the way they think that nature intended it.

Suggest that they get a high protein all natural protein tub for her and make sure that she has been dewormed.

I get a tub from Tractor Supply for our horses and cattle. It is 16 % protein and will last one cow quite a long time (months).
http://tinyurl.com/TSC-16-protein-tub
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby AllForage » Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:50 pm

Suggest that they feed a few pounds of beet pulp. It is a non-starch energy supplement.

Once again folks, they want 100% grassfed milk so they cannot feed any starch supplements. Psture should be supplying all the protein needs. Cow is just milking well and not putting any coondition on for herself. Unfortunately U.S. dairy genetics are not geared towards this production. They need to look more towards New Zealand AI sires. Maybe someone here could help. I thought NZ still had all grass seasonal dairies.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby TexasBred » Thu Jul 14, 2011 1:12 pm

AllForage wrote:Suggest that they feed a few pounds of beet pulp. It is a non-starch energy supplement.

Once again folks, they want 100% grassfed milk so they cannot feed any starch supplements. Psture should be supplying all the protein needs. Cow is just milking well and not putting any coondition on for herself. Unfortunately U.S. dairy genetics are not geared towards this production. They need to look more towards New Zealand AI sires. Maybe someone here could help. I thought NZ still had all grass seasonal dairies.

American dairy cattle are bred and fed for max production. Most are so large grazing is out of the question except on a limited basis. I know of two dairies that are intensive grazing operations but they settle for about half the milk production of other dairies and do nothing but fertilize, irrigate and rotate cattle. If the people in the OP want grass only the cow will always look undernourished. Hopefully they're letting the calf get all he/she wants and they settle for what is left.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby regolith » Thu Jul 14, 2011 1:52 pm

I can discuss NZ AI sires all day and on...

What exactly are they looking for? Yes, we have a lot of sires in NZ whose daughters are proven under all-grass milking systems. If they choose carefully, no doubt any of the main companies would have something suitable.
There are also a few US bulls who might have a proof in this country. Chances are that if they're marketed here, someone has decided they are suitable for milking on grass. Overseas sires take a big hit when their proof is converted for NZ conditions, and the only true idea you'll get is if they have daughters milking and providing them with a NZ proof, not a converted one.

Be careful of udder BVs, and if they want pedigree Holstein they'll need to check that the bull is registered pedigree.
When I look at overseas bulls without a NZ proof my first criteria are small/moderate size, high fertility and easy calving. As a rule the US Holsteins compared to the NZ ones are tall, with associated high calving difficulty and are much lower fertility. That won't work on a grass-fed seasonal calving dairy.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby AllForage » Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:41 pm

TexasBred wrote:
AllForage wrote:Suggest that they feed a few pounds of beet pulp. It is a non-starch energy supplement.

Once again folks, they want 100% grassfed milk so they cannot feed any starch supplements. Psture should be supplying all the protein needs. Cow is just milking well and not putting any coondition on for herself. Unfortunately U.S. dairy genetics are not geared towards this production. They need to look more towards New Zealand AI sires. Maybe someone here could help. I thought NZ still had all grass seasonal dairies.

American dairy cattle are bred and fed for max production. Most are so large grazing is out of the question except on a limited basis. I know of two dairies that are intensive grazing operations but they settle for about half the milk production of other dairies and do nothing but fertilize, irrigate and rotate cattle. If the people in the OP want grass only the cow will always look undernourished. Hopefully they're letting the calf get all he/she wants and they settle for what is left.


Basically what I said. Since I live in the dairy state, we have plenty of grazing dairies although just a handful of all grass ones. Heard one of those farmers present at a conference and his cows were not looking undernourished. He also had average sized holsteins. Used a few annuals for grazing to fill in gaps such as oats and turnips. Just a matter of getting the cows to hold a little more condition, but will sacrifice milk production. I still think the reduced input offsets the loss of production. On the other extreme, I see plenty of freestall locked in cows that look like walking death while they are stuffing their face all day.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby Gale Seddon » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:16 pm

Curious what breed of cow is this?
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby kickinbull » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:17 pm

thanks for the replys. the cow we've been talking about is jersey/brown swiss. they are following an "all natural" diet for the cow. They do feed some pretty good mixed legume hay at milking. No fertiltzer.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby TexasBred » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:38 pm

Allforage as with anything there is a point of diminishing return. Sometimes it's more profitable to settle for less milk if you know how to make it work. Also much easier on the cattle. As for freestalls....we had one but also gave them access to a pasture which they would definitely use except during the summer. Those that are kept in the freestall 24:7 do look pretty exhausted and are.....on concrete all the time and when they do lay down it's in a cramped hard bed. Culling rates are usually pretty high as well.
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Re: Homesteading dairy cow

Postby Running Arrow Bill » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:54 pm

Don't know about your area or dairy cows...

Just do know that dairies in Texas feed a lot of alfalfa hay for all those holsteins that have bags that look like 55 gallon drums...almost dragging the ground...lol.
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