Using nurse cows?

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newcattleman

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so when you want to dry up the cow do you just not let her milk? do they usually come up to the barn to get milked/feed calves on their own? If you dont breed the cow will she continually give milk? just wondering cause that would be my only cow.
 

TexasBred

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newcattleman":tiatkcga said:
so when you want to dry up the cow do you just not let her milk? do they usually come up to the barn to get milked/feed calves on their own? If you dont breed the cow will she continually give milk? just wondering cause that would be my only cow.
We would allow our cattle to nurse calves until we knew they were 7 months bred. As long as you keep feeding them they will continue to milk although it will continue to decrease over time. When you decide to dry her up simply quit feeding her any purchased feed and let he graze. You might have to hand milk her one time and then we would always infuse each quarter with a good dry cow treatment for prevention of mastitis (usually Quartermaster).
 
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bigrob

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TexasBred":2axrrqmr said:
bigrob":2axrrqmr said:
I think I read the productive life of a dairy cow is only 6 years, is that about right?
I would be really surprised if it was even that long. Just too much pressure put on them their whole life. Years ago we would weigh milk and pull out cattle that were still giving 40 lbs. of milk but only 2-3 months bred and use them for nurse cows. Had about 10 pens with 4 calves in each...pens were about 4x8 each having a gate. Calves were allowed to nurse their mothers for three days then put in the pens and bottle fed until nurse cows became available. The nurse cows were brought in, one put in each pen and the calves allowed to suck. Sometimes it would take a few days to get the cows to accept the calves but once they accepted them, we kept this routine for about 10 days...we would then put all the calves in a pen about 30x60 and twice daily turn the cows in there with them. Once the calves learned to follow the cows we would turn them into one of two pastures and then feed the cows just like the lactating cattle. Next month we'd repeat the procedure with another group. At weaning calves would be from 2 to 3 months of age. Each cow would raise two groups of calves and then we would dry her up and put her in the dry cow pasture. Did this for a couple of years, probably lost 4-5 calves during that time but 99% of them never scour or have any other problems. Only reason we quit it was wife wanted to bottle feed everything when we started going with the registered cattle.

As for buying calves....Dairy heifers are seldom for sale as they're too valuable but you can buy the bull calves pretty reasonable.....holsteins being a little bit more expensive. Most times when you see a holstein or jersey heifer at a beef cow sale it will be a freemartin or have some other problem. You really don't want to buy someone elses problem.

Boogie has given you some good pointers. There is some work involved early on but once the calves learn to follow the cows you're on the way to make some good money....even more if you'll buy beef calves to start with. They'll cost more but will bring considerably more when sold. Best wishes.

Thanks texasbred I greatly appreciate the information y'all have given me. I actually plan on buying some beef calves when I can if possible. I would greatly appreciate any more information all of you more experienced guys could give me on a good setup or what I can do to improve on my horse barn and stalls. Thank you guys
 
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bigrob

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DirtyShame®":3va9v1ni said:
Bigrob: For many years my Mother had a nurse cow operation. She quit because of age and health..So let me tell you of her experiences. She preferred Holstein cows simply because the volume of milk. She did have a few Jerseys and really like them too but they would raise as many calves as the Holstein...Her best Holsteins would wean up to 12 calves a year....She would put 4 calves each time on the cow. She kept full creep feed available for the calves. She would separate the cows at night and each morning. The cows will come to the pens to for their calves. The cows each had stalls which they would go to. She would feed the cows while the calves were nursing, then separate the cow and calves and turn the cows into the pasture...When the calves reached about 300 lbs and since they had been on full feed, she would wean the calves and put 4 more calves of the cow..The weaned calves were put in a feed lot and kept on full self feed. Of course you will have to adjust the number of calves, depending on the cow....she would do this 3 times while the cow was lactating...12 calves in about 300 day cycle...She estimated that she would clear....6 calves or half the number the cow could raise....i.e., it took the other 6 calves to pay all expenses, that buying the nurse calves, the feed for cow and calves....in the late 70s, she would clear $1,000 per cow, a year..and that is when calves would sell for between $250-$300 when they weighed about 600 lbs...Believe me, its the very best business a person with small acreage can get into....

Thanks for the input dirtyshame. I'm very serious about doing this. The way your mother had setup is what I'm planning on doing with my horse barn and round pen setup. Thank you very much for your input on this.
 
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bigrob

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TexasBred":340ghm0o said:
newcattleman":340ghm0o said:
so when you want to dry up the cow do you just not let her milk? do they usually come up to the barn to get milked/feed calves on their own? If you dont breed the cow will she continually give milk? just wondering cause that would be my only cow.
We would allow our cattle to nurse calves until we knew they were 7 months bred. As long as you keep feeding them they will continue to milk although it will continue to decrease over time. When you decide to dry her up simply quit feeding her any purchased feed and let he graze. You might have to hand milk her one time and then we would always infuse each quarter with a good dry cow treatment for prevention of mastitis (usually Quartermaster).

I have also been wondering how to dry them up and when is the best time to do it. Is the quartermaster you're talking about a shot?
 

TexasBred

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Quartermaster comes in a plastic syringe like tube but is infused into each teat. Just a buckshot load of pennicillin in an oil based carrier. Used to have to get it from the vet. May be otc by now.
 
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bigrob

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TexasBred":3h2yulqk said:
Quartermaster comes in a plastic syringe like tube but is infused into each teat. Just a buckshot load of pennicillin in an oil based carrier. Used to have to get it from the vet. May be otc by now.

Ok. I'll have to call the vet in town and see if they keep it in stock around here.
 

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