MANY YEARS AGO.......when i was another mans cowman. show string had once used holsteins as nurse cows for show string...as a result they had a few half beef half holstein commercial cows. had a beef cow die...had a nice looking crossbred cow whos calf could not use all the milk....put the orphan on the crossbred too.... still had to milk her once daily...... a while later put another orphan on her....cow ended up raising four nice calves that year and she mothered all four....now I did feed her like a high producing holstein but she raised four nice calves....
I have only had one nurse cow and she was a Jersey, my calves had no issues. The only issues I had was getting my nurse cow to stand. She kicked those little buggers so many times I had more vet bills from abscesses in their face from the boot to the jaw then I saved in milk replacer.
Almost every bottle calf I have had has had at least one day of the runs. Whether it was nursed by our jersey or went straight to replacer.
I used to raise dairy calves on nurse cows. Scours is an issue. Have to ease them into it, so that they don’t get too much milk. Just switching milk source sometimes can cause some scouring. Need to watch them close and treat at the first sign of scours.
I've raised many over the years. Have never had any real problems with beef calves getting scours from a jersey nurse cow. Angus (any beef breed) cows normally have a higher butterfat than say a normal holstein... so the calves normally get a bit more butterfat. Most beef cows milk that has been tested runs in the 4-6% fat range.
The trick is to not let them get too much milk the first 2-3 feedings. Everyone seems to think that a calf should get all he wants.... NOOOOOO. A calf should be a little bit hungry for the first couple feedings. I can feed a bottle to a bottle calf, and if allowed, they would drink another half or full bottle.... then their stomach (true stomach) cannot process all the milk and it "runs out of them". Scours is not always bacteria problems, it can be just quantity problems.
My jerseys will raise 3-4 calves. I used to raise them up for 8 weeks then transition more calves and would raise 6-10 per cow per lactation. Calf feed was cheaper and my time was greater. Now I get 3 or 4 transitioned onto to a cow and let her raise them for her whole lactation. They learn to come in the barn with her for feed, then will come in the creep gate for a little treat of feed. Keeps them friendlier, and quieter to work around. I feed the cow like any good milking dairy cow for the first 3-6 months and the milk flow is good.
If you have a cow that has been in milk and then you get a new calf to try to graft on her, limit the amount of time the calf has with her for the first week. I will forcibly pull them off the cow, out of the pen, if I think they have had enough.... and they will be squalling to go back to the cow. That's what you want for the first few days.... they need to stay a LITTLE bit hungry.... many times it is just getting used to the different milk. Their gut bacteria will adjust just like your will when you go from drinking store milk to fresh raw milk....you don't go and drink a gallon the first day.....
I presently have 1 hol/jer in milk with 3 calves on her. Have 2 pure jerseys dry and 3 more jer/hol heifers. Have had several jer/guernsey crosses. It takes time to get the calves established... some will mother anything, some will only allow them to nurse in the barn eating grain. I can make more money on the ones that raise 4 calves than a single beef calf off a cow.... but you have to not count your time. My thoughts are a nurse cow has to raise 3 dairy (say holstein) calves to break even to a single beef calf.... but can raise 2 beef calves and break even. I figure overall that she has to raise 4....1 for me to keep as a replacement or raise for beef.... 2 to pay for her increased feed(grain) consumption, and 1 for profit. So if I don't need to keep a replacement or a beef.... she can raise 3 and be worth what one single weaned beef feeder is worth. If you are raising strictly beef calves on the cow, not beef/dairy crosses, then 2 will make you money.
You have to like dealing with dairy cattle and have the time to get them started right. I like my dairy cows, my son...nuh-uh.