Which Dairy Heifers should I keep?

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DitchBank

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For the past couple months I've been buying some dairy heifers from a farm I've been buying calves from for a few years. I have been getting these types: Jersey/Holstien Cross, Jersey, Brown Swiss, and Milking shorthorn Jersey cross. I have gotten probably around 10-15 from them and although I am spending a pretty penny to get a hold of them I am making enough back when I sell them as they put some weight on and grow. My question is this, I have a small herd of Black angus cows and would like one or two milk cows mixed in and am only willing to keep 2 of the dairy heifers at the most. I want to have them in order to raise 2 or 3 calves at a time during every year just to raise a few more calves. Which out of these breeds/crosses would you keep a hold of if you were only keeping 2?

Jersey
Jersey/Holstein cross
Brown Swiss
Milking Shorthorn/Jersey cross
 

Engler

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Personally I'd look at the Swiss heifers. They are probably going to be the most rugged and could run with the beef cows and hold up the best.

Additionally their calves are probably going to be the stoutest (if you can use that term to describe dairy beef) and would be the least likely to get docked. Furthermore I'd guess that they would have a little more performance than the Jersey cross calves.
 

hillsdown

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Engler":95jlt76y said:
Personally I'd look at the Swiss heifers. They are probably going to be the most rugged and could run with the beef cows and hold up the best.

Additionally their calves are probably going to be the stoutest (if you can use that term to describe dairy beef) and would be the least likely to get docked. Furthermore I'd guess that they would have a little more performance than the Jersey cross calves.

They also eat as much as a Holstein and produce at least 1/3 to 1/2 the milk. It also depends on the genetics of your herd. What are they out of, name some of the pedigrees so we can get an idea of what you are working with as far as frame and milk capacity.
 
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DitchBank

DitchBank

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hillsdown":21bw09x4 said:
What are you breeding them too and are you milking them or just nurse cows or something else ?

I plan on turning her in with a black angus bull for a month or so, then bringing her up to a couple small pastures near my home and having her raise her calf plus one or two extra's.

Engler":21bw09x4 said:
Personally I'd look at the Swiss heifers. They are probably going to be the most rugged and could run with the beef cows and hold up the best.

Additionally their calves are probably going to be the stoutest (if you can use that term to describe dairy beef) and would be the least likely to get docked. Furthermore I'd guess that they would have a little more performance than the Jersey cross calves.

The swiss heifers they have at the dairy farm I get the calves from I really do like, they are a little stouter, and are tame cows that seem to be some of the easiest to handle. That being said I have had bad experiences when I have raised brown swiss steers before, I have had 2 or 3 make it and be good cows, but have had 3 die, but that is raising them off a bottle and I am picking up these heifers at weaning weight so I am not as worried about having sickness problems.

hillsdown":21bw09x4 said:
They also eat as much as a Holstein and produce at least 1/3 to 1/2 the milk. It also depends on the genetics of your herd. What are they out of, name some of the pedigrees so we can get an idea of what you are working with as far as frame and milk capacity.

I plan on having to feed the two cows I do keep good plainly because I plan on putting more than one calf on both of them by their second year, first if there bag is big enough. But the 1/2 to 1/3 of milk production is a worry. I want the two cows to be good milk producers, how much would having holstein cross in them help them with milk production, because I do have a brown swiss/Holstein cross as well. As for genetics I really don't know them, I have been going to this dairy for a few years buying from them and they have all been very good calves. The dairy is an all natural organic, raw milk and cheese producing dairy. They have 2 jersey bulls with each herd of cows and they are all out to pasture very good cows they have in my opinion. They probably have only around 100-125 cows total on this farm consisting of some holstein , some jersey, some brown swiss, a few milking shorthorns, and some gernseys.
 

hillsdown

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I would keep the jersey Holstein crosses personally, and they do well when crossed with beef, make sure your angus has a full package to offer them though. (if you now what I mean)..

They will easily raise 2-3 calves for you and grow them for you very well too. But choose the ones you think are the best out of your group , then you can keep illuminating from there.
 

dun

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hillsdown":19foas5g said:
I would keep the jersey Holstein crosses personally, and they do well when crossed with beef, make sure your angus has a full package to offer them though. (if you now what I mean)..

They will easily raise 2-3 calves for you and grow them for you very well too. But choose the ones you think are the best out of your group , then you can keep illuminating from there.

That's what I would keep too.
Swiss calves tend to be slightly stupid. They're laid back to the point of being almost comatose. The common saying about Brown Swiss is they eat like a Holstein and milk like a Jeersey. That's not far off the mark.
 

BC

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I would keep the Milking Shorthorn cross. Thye get out and hustle well. Several of the grazing daries in this area are using them in their breeding programs.
 

francismilker

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I'd personally stay away from the heavy holstein influence it it were me. (Unless you own interest in a feed mill)
If it were up to me I'd look into the MS cows. They tend to hold their body condition well when on grass. I know it all depends on the cow but traditionally they've done well for me. I realize you didn't mention the Ayrshire breed in the mix. If you can find one of these, that'll be the true ticket. I've got a dairyman friend in Southern Kansas who has went totally grassed based and is average good milk output on no grain at all. MS cows have a lot of the ayrshire traits and characteristics.

I'm also a jersey fan, but I have to feed mine pretty heavy if they're getting milked pretty heavy. Sometimes it don't pencil out in the black pound for pound. They do however make great nurse cows and produce some pretty rich milk to get calves going good.

By the way, if you put a black bull on the MS cows, you'll usually get a black baldy. Sell them before they get too big and start showing too many dairy characteristics and you can get premium price for them. Same goes for the swiss/angus crosses.

I would've chosen the Brown Swiss for you. But, as others have said the calves are just plain stupid with no will to live. Most of the replacement heifers I've bought as day olds have been a real pain to keep alive. Sometimes I've had to tube feed them 2X per day for several days because they wouldn't suck a bottle. It's only until they start to get a little older (2-4 weeks old) that they start to gain any aggresiveness towards feeding time.
I do like grown Brown Swiss cows but think they eat too much for the amount of milk they produce.


Either MS or Jersey would be my choice!
 

Loch Valley Fold

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We breed & milk purebred Jersey's but I'd be looking at keeping a smaller framed MS x Jersey you won't have the huge feed bill that a holstein will give you & I've found that brown swiss drop dead at the thought of dry weather. & having a xbred Jersey you shouldn't get the Jersey bum on the calves when you cross a beef bull back over the xbred cows
 

ANAZAZI

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First stay away from holsteins, second take brown swiss third take the shorthorn/jersey.
 

FarmGirl10

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I'd keep the M. Shorthorn/Jersey. We have a grass fed dairy pretty close and I went up and talked to them once about the breeds they have. They said that if they had to start again they would go with strictly jersey/M. shorthorn crosses becuse they performed in their conditions the best.
 

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