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zendog

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I am a hobby farmer in Indiana. I raise a couple of steers a year. I like the idea of miniature cattle but the cost of stock is so high that I can not begin to break even selling beef and I do not want to get into being a being a breeding operation.

I know that dairy calves sell for very little. I was wondering... if I paid for artificial inseminating dairy cows with semen from a miniature Lowline Angus donor: A) Would I have trouble finding a dairy farmer who would agree to this? and B) Would the resultant calf( Lowline Angus X Holstein or whatever) have reasonable beef producing properties? and finally, C) How much would it cost me to get one of these calves?

I can get good sperm for $35 to $50 per straw. I have no idea if I have to pay a vet to do the AI work or if a good dairy farmer can do it. If I have to pay a vet, how much would that add to the cost. Finally, how much would the dairy farmer charge me for the calves? Right now, I sell custom beef (by the side) directly to consumers cut wrapped and frozen, so I know the other costs pretty well.

As I say, I am a hobby farmer, so I do not necessarily have to make money on this, but I do not want to raise beef and lose money on it either.
 

hillsdown

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Dairy bulls calves and free martins are cheap dairy heifers are outrageous.

I am not sure exactly what you are asking. You want to go to a dairy and ask if you can inseminates their replacements with beef semen and then when they calve you want to buy the beef/Holstein cross from them?

I can't see that being impossible but it might be hard to find a dairy that wants to do that. Why don't you just by Holstein baby bull calves and raise them for butchering. They really do make extremely good "beef" very well marbled and they are cheap cheap cheap to buy right now.

Good luck, I think the only way you are going to find out if you can do this is to approach some dairies.
 
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zendog

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I assumed the reason dairy calves are so cheap is because they are not strictly "replacement" but necessary for milk production, and the dairy farmer needs to get rid of them ASAP to start capturing the milk. Sorry if this is a wrong assumption as I am not at all familiar with dairy farming in any way.

I do not want to raise Holsteins for beef, partly because I assumed that a beef breed would produce more and better beef than a milk breed. Again my ignorance may be showing. Mostly, however, I am interested in trying the market dairy / Lowline Angus cross cattle is because I would like to explore the concept of small beef cattle and compare that to the large beef breeds I am raising now.


Finally, I have not gone directly to a dairy farmer because I assumed that a lot of dairy farmers would be reading this "dairy" thread on the "cattle forum" and I would get a variety of answers here rather than the one answer I would happened to get from the dairy farm I happen to visit.

BTW I am also interested in how difficult it is to raise a calf right off of a dairy. My guess is the dairy farmer wants to get the calves off of the dairy cow ASAP and they probably take special care just to survive.

Thanks

zendog
 

milkmaid

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zendog":335zi3is said:
I assumed the reason dairy calves are so cheap is because they are not strictly "replacement" but necessary for milk production, and the dairy farmer needs to get rid of them ASAP to start capturing the milk. Sorry if this is a wrong assumption as I am not at all familiar with dairy farming in any way.

Bull calves are dirt cheap because no one needs them, but every last heifer calf goes into the milking herd. Calves are separated from their dams at birth, yes, but they are either raised in pens at the dairy or contracted out to a heifer ranch that will raise them.

You'd be hard pressed to find a dairy farmer that would be at all interested in your proposal.

Also, dairy cows tend not to be very fertile, and with the amount of money you'll spend on semen to have those cows bred, you'd be best off just purchasing straight Lowline cattle.
 

dun

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I'm still trying to figure out what the purpose of this cross would be? A mating between a jockey and a basketball player might be interesting, but other then another mouth to feed, waht good would it be.
 
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zendog

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I am missing something here. If every dairy cow calves once a year, and have of the calves are female, and all females are replacement, that would mean that 1/2 of all dairy cows are replaced every year and the the average age of a dairy cow is 1 year??? Aren't dairy cows productive for 6 or 8 years? If all the female calves were kept, that would mean the dairy heard would double about every three years. I would also have thought that only the female calves of the most productive milkers would go into replacement.

The goal for me is to get a small beef cow. The goal for the dairy farmer is to get a freshened milk cow, a low birth weight calve with fewer birthing problems, and easier sale at higher price for the born calf.
 

chippie

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The answer is that you will give the dairyman a good laugh. I paid $750 for my daughter's registered Jersey heifer when the heifer was 6 months old.

The only dairy calves that may be cheap (depending on where you live) would be pure bred bull calves. A dairy steer makes very good eating. The meat grain is fine and tender. We have eaten a lot of Holstein and Jersey meat.

A dairyman can buy sexed semen to inseminate his cows. The heifer calves are bottle raised, they are not throw aways. A heifer will have her first calf when she is 2 years old. This means that the dairyman will have close to 3 years invested before the replacement goes into the milking string.
Besides, a dairy always has dry cows. They don't milk all of them all of the time.

ETA: Jersey cattle are a low birth weight cattle. Even if the dairyman has Holsteins, he knows what he is doing. My BIL has a dairy.
Dairy bull calves sell for $100 or more around here. There are people willing to pay that much for a bottle calf.

The calves that the dairyman keeps are bottle raised. They are kept in calf hutches or pens. They are fed twice daily. If you do not have a milk source, raising a bottle calf can be very expensive because of the cost of the milk replacer.
 

iowafarmer

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Why don't you just buy beef calves. A dairy is not going to ai their cows with beef semen because then any heifers they get as calves aren't going to be asgood of replacements. You could buy holsien bull calves from the dairy but they take a lot of grain to fatten them. Like i mentioned on the thread calf prices baby holstien bulls claves aren't brigning anything around here. I just don't understand what you are trying to get out of this since by the time you put in semen and vet bills youcould have bought a cross bred calf. You could better go find person that raises lowline beef and buy their bull calves from them. Good luck.
 
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zendog

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I think my ignorance is making me appear to be argumentative which was not my intention. I just cant make the facts all fit together. For example this ad from Craigslist got me started on this track:

"Calves continue to be this cheap. We currently have some smaller Holstein calves --$10 each, and larger day old calves for $40 each. You can buy bottles, nipples and milk replacer if needed. Most importantly we can give advise for successful calf raising. . The picture are examples of calves sold in the past. WE SOLD WHAT WE HAVE TODAY BUT WILL HAVE MORE AVAILABLE ON MARCH 28 OR 29TH. THANKS FOR LOOKING. Welcome to call 541-914-xxxx cell."

This ad is not and anomaly in the area where it was posted. In fact there seems to be plenty of day old calves for $30 and less.

I am also sure that Holsteins are fine eating, but if beef cattle are not better breeds for producing beef, why in ***** are there any beef cattle breeds at all. (I suppose this is like asking a Herferd cattleman why Angus cattle taste better.) Still, the most rational conclusion is that beef cattle breeds are the result of selective breeding to produce better, or at least more productive, beef cattle. No offense to dairy cattlemen -- I just want to produce small beef breed cattle or at least crosses thereof.

Simply buying Lowline Angus cattle would be the obvious solution but, as stated in my original post, they are VERY expensive. They are still in the "fad animal" stage of introduction, like Alpaca's are now and Llamas were, where a cow and calf can be $10,000 or more and even 1/2 Lowline is around $2,000. Unfortunately, I can not sell the meat of a 600 pound cow for $2,000 no matter how cute they are -- at least not in my neighborhood.

Finally, I am almost certain having read of dairy cattlemen cross breeding their cattle to freshen their cattle without risking birth problems, or does this really never happen?

BTW I raise dairy goats so have plenty of milk for bottle feeding.

One specific question (I thought I asked this) is: How much does it cost to have a cow AI breed. It must be a lot because if females cost a lot and bull calves are cheap, everyone would have all of their cows bred via sex specific AI. Right? If it is not too great, I could go to the fellow who sells me Simmental/Angus crosses from.

Again -- apologies for being such a pest, but if one person who really knows the answer could just set me straight, I will be very appreciative.
 

dun

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I can;t keeep all the questions stright so I'll hit a likc on the ones I remember. Most dairys do their AI thermselves, the only cost is a buck or so for glove lube and sheath plus the cost of the semen. There is generally a high demand for dairy heifers because there is always a dairy erspansion going on somewhere. Most dairy coes only make it through a couple of lactations before they're culled. Some dairys breed to low BW bulls for the first calf, but those that do AI and know what they're looking for will use a Holstein or Jersey with proven calving ease. That eleiminates the throw away calf for first fresheners. Using lowline on a Holstein would basicly generate the equivilent of an oversized Dexter. A little more milk then a dairy animal, less then a beef animal, pretty much a compromise that is neither fish nor fowl. Bite the bullet and buy some old dairy cows of your own and breed them, or use the lowline semen on some cheap beef cows.
 

chippie

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Let me try to explain from the dairyman's perspective. My husband grew up on a dairy, BIL has a dairy, my grandfather had an all Jersey dairy and we have several Jerseys of our own.

How would this benefit the dairyman? He would feed a cow for 9 months and get a calf that you want to pay very little for. On the other hand, he can breed his cows with sexed semen and guarantee that he will get a heifer, or he can breed his cows to a good beef bull like an Angus and get smooth black heifers. Commercial cattlemen like those as replacement heifers. When bred to a beef bull they produce a meaty calf and can raise it. If it is a bull calf, it will be an average freezer calf.

Are you going to pay the dairyman to lease his cow to carry your calf? You really can not expect him to do it for free.

What if the cow doesn't settle on the first breeding and you have spent $100 on semen to get a calf that is a shot in the dark and will probably be a dink. One of our cows crawled the fence and was bred by our neighbor's Hereford bull. She had a male calf which was cut when he was a week old. He was the poorest quality calf that we have ever had. He looked like he was made out of two different animals. He had the Hereford heavy front end and the Jersey's skinny rear. When he was processed I had him put into all hamburger because he didn't have enough rear for round steaks and roasts. Granted he was butchered at 11 months old and I brought home 460+ one pound packages of hamburger and he is delicious, however he was a junky steer.

When you breed two different body types of animals does not mean that the genetics will mix 50/50 and you get a wonderful blend of the two. One will be dominate and when breeding to dairy cows, it seems that the dairy cows win. We have bred our cows for freezer beef to Brahman, Belgian Blue, Angus and the accidental Hereford. I have owned Jersey's since the 1970's.

You may end up with tiny hatchet butt critter. If you want a smaller freezer beef, either butcher at a younger age or breed to a GOOD beef cow. Junk begets junk.
 
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zendog

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Well, I am learning a lot. A couple more points and question and I will be gone and you folks can get back to serious dairy cattle talk with my deep appreciation and gratitude.

First, what I have learned most is that I am probably better off finding a beef cattle rancher and paying him to breed a beef cow to a Lowline Angus for me. I will get a better beef calf and the beef rancher will charge me no more than the dairyman would, even if I could find a dairyman to do it at all. Right?

First question… I note that Dun said:
“Some dairys breed to low BW bulls for the first calf, but those that do AI and know what they're looking for will use a Holstein or Jersey with proven calving ease. That eleiminates the throw away calf for first fresheners. Using lowline on a Holstein would basicly generate the equivilent of an oversized Dexter.”

Well, that is pretty much exactly what I had in mind – A Dexter sized cow with some of the characteristics of a Lowline Angus. I would (at least one time) be willing to take the risk that I might get the worst characteristics of both. If a dairy farmer will occasionally choose to breed a Jersey, how much would he or she expect to get for that cow? If I were willing to pay more than that, wouldn’t he or she be willing to breed with a Lowline Angus AI? That is really the question I originally wanted answered. Will the dairy farmer do it, and how will he or she charge me?

Cippie said:
“On the other hand, he can breed his cows with sexed semen and guarantee that he will get a heifer, or he can breed his cows to a good beef bull like an Angus and get smooth black heifers. … We have bred our cows for freezer beef to Brahman, Belgian Blue, Angus and the accidental Hereford.”

Again this is what I am looking for. If he will breed to a full size Angus, wouldn’t he breed to a Lowline Angus for the same money? How much is that?

My last question is just out of curiosity. If male dairy cattle are worth between $5 and $100, and female are worth a lot (nobody ever said how much), and sexed semen is available and easy to administer, why does any dairy farmer ever produce cheap bull cattle when it is easy to produce expensive cows?

Thanks again. You folks have been very patient with an ignorant outsider. I appreciate your help.
 

dun

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A Dexter sized cow with some of the characteristics of a Lowline Angus. I would (at least one time) be willing to take the risk that I might get the worst characteristics of both. If a dairy farmer will occasionally choose to breed a Jersey, how much would he or she expect to get for that cow? If I were willing to pay more than that, wouldn’t he or she be willing to breed with a Lowline Angus AI? That is really the question I originally wanted answered. Will the dairy farmer do it, and how will he or she charge me?

Why not just get some decters and breed them to a lowline. It would sure put the meat on them. Of course the Dexter breeders would want to tar and feather you, but what's a little tar and feathers among friends............
 

chippie

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Ok, my children have kept scramble calf recordbooks where they have to keep a running tally of what the heifer costs them. The recommended fee for our area for pasture and hay is $3.00 per day. That includes taxes paid on our land, pasture improvements, cost of hay, either rental or land payments.

9 months is roughly 270 days. Multiply that times $3.00 = $810.00. Add in veterinary care for the cow, vaccinations and deworming. I am not including feed. As you see the farmer has quite a bit invested in just keeping his cow. How much are you willing to pay to lease a cow?

The only way you will find if a cow owner will do what you want is to go ask the cow owner yourself.

I don't know why you don't buy your own cows. It would be cheaper for you in the long run.

If you do find someone, be sure to have a contract specifying who is responsible for paying what. For example, what if the cow should have to have a c-section? Just because you bred to a low birthweight bull does not guarantee that the calf can not be breech. Who would be responsible for the vet bills? What if the cow should die?

Honestly, you could be opening a big can of worms and end up paying a lot of money and not have anything to show for it. If you owned your own cows, at least you would have them.

Again this is what I am looking for. If he will breed to a full size Angus, wouldn’t he breed to a Lowline Angus for the same money? How much is that?

Because you can use a bull and not bother with AI, or if you do AI like we do, you can buy semen from a 5 figure bull for about $12.00 a straw and you end up with a full size beef - not a mini or dwarf looking animal.
 

novaman

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Sexed semen is quite expensive and the conception rates are noticeably lower. Using it on cows is not economical as it takes several services to settle. For this reason, most people only use sexed semen on virgin heifers. I doubt you would find any dairies willing to go along with your program. It leaves no opportunity for the dairy to benefit. I would personally rather produce cheap Holstein bull calves but still have the chance of getting a replacement heifer rather than breeding my cows to a beef breed and getting calves that would essentially be worthless to me. As far as what it would cost that depends on the person. I would figure quite a bit into the equation and you would likely see a number that is far higher than you would be willing to pay, I'm sure of it. The low BW calves, in my opinion, isn't as attractive to a dairy farmer as you may think. Holsteins are good sized cows and in my experience don't have big problems with calving. Add to this the fact that there is plenty of information out there to select bulls that have minimal calving issues and you don't have much need for a low BW calf out of a beef breed. Don't mean to shoot you down. It's great that you're trying to think outside the box. I just think there is no way this thing would fly. I agree with the others when they say you would be better off buying your own cows.
 

milkmaid

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zendog":2ng1wx94 said:
I am missing something here. If every dairy cow calves once a year, and have of the calves are female, and all females are replacement, that would mean that 1/2 of all dairy cows are replaced every year and the the average age of a dairy cow is 1 year??? Aren't dairy cows productive for 6 or 8 years?

National average lifespan of a dairy cow is 1.6 lactations. Average lactation is usually about 11.5 months.

As far as how much heifers are worth... I have paid $550/hd for 2 week old holstein heifer calves (not including a 2 hour drive across the state line) and would do it again in a heartbeat.
 

GMN

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milkmaid":308d9hpg said:
zendog":308d9hpg said:
I am missing something here. If every dairy cow calves once a year, and have of the calves are female, and all females are replacement, that would mean that 1/2 of all dairy cows are replaced every year and the the average age of a dairy cow is 1 year??? Aren't dairy cows productive for 6 or 8 years?

National average lifespan of a dairy cow is 1.6 lactations. Average lactation is usually about 11.5 months.

That National average seems ridiculusly low, maybe thats what it is in CA with the milking factories, but I think the family farms averages would be much higher.

GMN
 

auctionboy

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Holsteins are huge, you should go to a beef farmer and get them to ai a few calves for you and tell them you will buy the calves for what there other calves go for. You could also buy open beef cows or even a heifer because your calf will be small and have your own animal id. I would go the buying a cheap open beef auction heifer for $500 and have her ai bred to a miniature. You should be able to find a half minature at a reseonable price.
 
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zendog

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Thanks a lot. Everyone has been very helpful.

Since posting I have found a dairy farmer who will cross with an AI lowline Angus. In person, it is not difficult to get agreement when you can guarantee the dairyman he will not lose money. However – as several have suggested – I would probably be better off crossing with a beef breed. It will not cost much more and I will probably have a better beef calf as a product.

FYI – Internet research convinces me that, for a serious cattleman, there is a LOT more money in raising lowline Angus for seed stock than any other kind of ranching – at least for the next 10 years or so. I will post my observation on another thread for your comment.

However, that is not the business I want to be in. I am a hobby farmer, I do not care about making money, and at 66 years old, I am not going to be in this long enough to get any real benefit from it. I just want to raise some beef animals I can be proud of.
 

TexasBred

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GMN":22iybb1q said:
milkmaid":22iybb1q said:
zendog":22iybb1q said:
I am missing something here. If every dairy cow calves once a year, and have of the calves are female, and all females are replacement, that would mean that 1/2 of all dairy cows are replaced every year and the the average age of a dairy cow is 1 year??? Aren't dairy cows productive for 6 or 8 years?

National average lifespan of a dairy cow is 1.6 lactations. Average lactation is usually about 11.5 months.

That National average seems ridiculusly low, maybe thats what it is in CA with the milking factories, but I think the family farms averages would be much higher.

GMN

Gail down here most dairies might get 2 full lactations from a cow...you'll always have the exception.. Cull rates always seem to run 35% to 40% and even higher in the big freestall operations. Not quite that high where cattle are actually pastured. Foot problems, failure to breed back, mastitis, heat and humidity etc really takes a high toll on the ladies.
 

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