We are looking for a dairy cow, but we need one that is hardy, obviously sweet, an has good tasting milk. What are your thoughts ... pro's... con's....what breed have you had the best luck with? An we are open to any breed... standard an mini....
Highland milk actually tastes REALLY good. Milking them is a bit tricky, though. And you don't get a lot of milk (but it is literally half cream)
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Always glad to hear that somebody wants to milk a cow! So congrats.
Having seen pics of your pastures, and with the thread title, it sounds like you realize that you dont exactly have 'dairy quality' pastures. Do you plant to supplement with alfalfa hay to get a good diet for the cow? I would say that this is imperative, to balance out your pasture nutrition.
If you feed a diet of fair quality rotated pasture, with a daily supplement of 10-15 pounds alfalfa hay, milking once a day, I think you would be good. Dont feed grain, it is not an answer, it is a problem in and of itself.
As for breed, I would avoid Jerseys and Holsteins. Jerseys give too much butterfat for the amount of body condition they carry. Unless their feeding is prefect, they will likely have health and or fertility problems. Holsteins just give lousy milk.
I would recommend talking to your milk source down valley about one of their Brown Swiss. Get a modest producer, with excellent health history. Get a cow, not a heifer. Their animals are more rugged than most dairy cows nowadays. A big, bad ass Brown Swiss will be able to handle rough conditions quite easily.
Feel free to PM me for any other questions you might have, I am glad to help.
I think the main point is a cow that will thrive in any conditions. It will be a British Cow such as Scottish Highland, Dexter or Aberdeen. Other breeds give a lot more milk under better conditions but these breeds will give you milk under poorer conditions where other breeds will not survive.
Barry Fitzgerald wrote:It will be a British Cow such as Scottish Highland, Dexter or Aberdeen. Other breeds give a lot more milk under better conditions but these breeds will give you milk under poorer conditions where other breeds will not survive.
Belted Galloway. Similar to Highland cattle but no horns. Easy to spot from afar.
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The other thing I would think about, is that anytime you change the management circumstances for a cow, there is no guarantee that she will work in the new context, regardless of breed.
When transitioning animals from a grain-fed past to a grass-fed only operation, we expect that only 50% of cows will perform adequately without the grain that had become accustomed to. This is definitley a frustrating situation for the person starting a cowherd.
Given that reality, buying expensive (rare breed) animals to start is particularly inadvisable. Somebody will always see you their magical rare breed cow, that is going to thrive in all circumstances, but that is really sellers embelleshment.
Starting with animals that are from your general climate, soils, and altitude is a good start. Then looking for animals that have been fed, milked, and managed in a similar way to how you plan is next. Breed, IMHE, is really a distant third consideration.
Thanks everyone for all the suggestions ! I do not plan on milking any of my current highlanders...it may be an experiment down the road with the yearling heifer we have . as for the belted Galloway an such cows...yes I'm familiar with them but choose to stick with a little more familiar breed of cow an a cow that I know will give enough milk for my family. We finally found Chloe a few days ago from a very sweet older gal! An she is bred to a black Angus bull due to calve the end of this month! So we will keep everyone updated on how things go! Thanks everyone