Is 2 acres enough for a jersey cow?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by melinda, Jun 1, 2005.

  1. melinda

    melinda Junior Member

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    Hi Everyone,
    Can someone tell me if 2 acres is enough for a jersey cow We are in Nimbin on very fertile land!

    Cheers
    Melinda :lol:
     
  2. Tamandco

    Tamandco Junior Member

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    Hi Melinda,

    I submitted a post to a thread https://forums.permaculture.org.au/viewtopic.php?t=460 the other day in regards to the Cly's 'meat harvesting'. My contribution was to explain my own set up which includes my Jersey cow, Rosie. We have 3.5 acres, 0.5 acre being dedicated to house/garden/chooks/sheds. The rest is divided into a calving/hospital paddock and a main paddock.

    In my opinion, you most certainly can keep a Jersey cow on 2 acres of good grazing land.

    What's your intention/plan re your Jersey cow acquisition?

    Tam
     
  3. melinda

    melinda Junior Member

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    well, milk, cream, butter and cheese for the family....it seems a little daunting. we are in the process of buying this small acerage with a house. and if it all goes well should be in within the month.

    i think i will start with chooks and the graduate to the cow.

    i have also been looking around for milking equipment, i have found a butter churner, but the cream separators seem to be hard to find- unless you want a dirty old antique.

    i am really looking forward to the possibilty of applying permaculture principles to livestock. up until now i have lived on small urban blocks and the most i could manage was a vegie garden and some fruit trees.

    cheers
    Melinda
     
  4. Tamandco

    Tamandco Junior Member

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    Hi Melinda,

    Well, you're going through what I went through a little over 2 years back.

    Cream separators are IMPOSIBLE to buy new or in good, clean condition. You get a lot of them through clearing sales and it seems 'collectors' buy them. They also go for a lot of $$$. Usually around $80 which is hardly worth it for something you don't even know works.

    I rang the lady from Cheeselinks on (03) 5283 1396 (15 Minns Rd Little River 3211) https://www.cheeselinks.com.au/Postage.html which do have an electric one albeit very expensive, and she suggested to use a plastic Decor 4 litre bottle with a tap on it, available from Bunnings for around $10. You store the milk in it overnight in the fridge then tap off the milk in the morning just until the cream starts to come through. If you don't need absolute skim milk, which you probably wouldn't, then this is the easiest and cheapest way to go. After all, the idea is to get the cream from the milk rather than remove all the cream from the milk which is what the factories have to do in order to make skim milk (skim milk powder). The lady from Cheeselinks said that's all she uses.

    My Jersey cow has really small teats which makes it her a bit hard to milk by hand with my large for a woman, hands. I started looking for a single cow milking machine, none of which I've been able to locate in Australia. The UK however have some which work out to around $1,500 AU. Can't really justify that either so I'll just have to work on my technique.

    Having a house cow is really only as much work as you make it. I recently had a baby (in March) and stopped milking in November because I just wasn't comfortable in that position. Up until then, I only milked once a week or as I needed the milk as the calves were on her. I weaned the calves in March only because we sent need the money from her calf and if her calf isn't there, she won't allow the foster calf to feed. They're not always like that. A lot of Jersey's will accept foster calves unconditionally. Ours is just bad tempered, kick and headbuts too. We're not really sure if we'll keep her or replace her with one more even tempered. Funnily enough, my 3 year old can ride quite safely on her back and she's really good with the kids, just doesn't like to be told what to do.

    You'll also need to do a fair bit of research on pasterisation vs raw milk and make a decision on which way you'll go. I haven't really made up my mind yet as I haven't been convinced one way or the other. I'd love to use the milk raw, great for making natural yoghurts etc, but as my cow goes off the property to visit the bull every year, I'm conscious that she my come in contact with infected stock and I'd be none the wiser. Bucellosis (sp?) is my main concern. I wonder if anyone's got any feedback, opinions on this subject matter.

    The beauty of having cows vs horses is that they're not selective when it comes to grazing and they don't really move around that much. Plus you can feed them really ordinary hay and they're not fussy. All this keeps you're property in much better condition than it would otherwise end up with horses. And basically, if you didn't want to do anything other than look at them out the window every day, you really don't need to.

    One more thing, I bought a little tool from the produce store and put the rings on the bull calves myself. I also ordered the tool for the eartags and having been shown by a friend once, will do it myself next season. If you choose to use a chemical wormer, as opposed to organic methods, which is probably a good idea to initially irradicate any worms while you're getting your system in place (I might offend some people here) then it's really easy and just a matter of pouring a solution down along their back.

    Plus cow poo's much better to use than horse poo for the garden/compost as there is likely to be less weed seeds and undigested matter left over because of them being ruminants and digesting their food so thoroughly. It also makes them much better doers getting more out of a little, plus their metabolism's a lot lower so requires less to keep them in condition.

    A good book to start off with is 'The Healthy House Cow' by Marja Fitzgerald, available from Earth Garden Books and probably the Good Life Book Club too.

    Would love to hear how you go and good luck.

    Tam
     
  5. melinda

    melinda Junior Member

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    Tam,

    thanks for all that information. have you had any success making butter?
    so , you dont use artificial ensemination for your cow! why not?
    i am an absolute novice with cows...have lived on a friends property with chooks for a while, so they are not such a mystery but cows, ug !
    also, do you know why it is recommended to divide up the paddocks, is it the allow thicker feed growth?

    i am thinking i will have to let the cow into the house block to graze because our paddock is probably only and acre and then there is probably 3/4 of an acre of odd shaped unfenced ;and around the house block.

    i was told the jersey cow is best for kids...i have a 4 yr old, 8 month old and am 5 months preg with # 3, so i was glad to hear of your child friendly beast.

    Melinda
     
  6. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    I've never had a cow, but used to work for a vet, so I know just enough to be dangerous! :lol:

    Don't be afraid to use a chemical wormer. Lots of people will try to talk you out of it, but when you're feeding this milk to your family, you can't be too careful. Just be aware that there is usually a time limit between worming (or any other medications) and using the milk, when you must absolutely, positively dump the milk. There is nothing that will make it safe.

    I don't know how things are down there, but here in the U.S., tuberculosis is an issue, as you can get it from a cow's milk. The thing to do is to get the cow tested for it. Talk to a vet about it, and about Brucellosis, and ask if you should know about any other diseases. Tell him SPECIFICALLY that you intend to drink the milk raw, and ask if there is any reason why you shouldn't, and if there is anything you need to do periodically to keep it safe. Even if you want to pasturize it, the milk should be safe to drink in case there is some kind of slip-up.

    Learn to milk properly, as a bad milker can cause the cow problems.

    If you let chooks run with or after the cow, they will break up the cow pies (or do you call them pats there?) looking for bugs, help to break up the worm cycle, and spread the manure around so the rank green grass doesn't grow in clumps, as the cows are not supposed to like it.

    And if you get a calf, be very sure you handle her a LOT, so she isn't flighty later, when you need to milk her. Get her used to having all parts of her body touched, so nothing is a surprise to her later.

    Sue
     
  7. lillypilly

    lillypilly Junior Member

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    have you look @ dexta cattle. they still produce more then 4lts a day and are a lot smaller in size. they are short little longish black(mainly) friendly cattle if handle them a bit. they make a yummy yogurt and creamy butter. they are great for smaller area, like all cattle that have calves they can be costly $500plus,. have you look at homopathic cattle care, we treat our animals this way and the whole family too. good luck in your new home. we only move to our 4acs in march thsi year and are buzy planning the garden we will get our new cow in november when we get back from hoildays. we really need it we are going though 7lts aleast a week. oh well.. :D
     
  8. melinda

    melinda Junior Member

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    Hi Lilly Pilly,

    Ive not heard of a dexta cow! how can i find out about them? i know the jersey are about 1000kg, how big are the dexta?...do you think they are more expensive then a jersey? are they quicker to milk becasue there is less milk, my partner who will be the milking man would like that.

    smaller would be better for us.

    we currently use about 10 to 12 litres of milk per week, but with another child coming i guess that will go up again by a few litres pretty soon.

    Melinda
     
  9. dryland dweller

    dryland dweller Junior Member

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    Melinda search under dexter. they are a miniture cow (about half jersy size) and apparently a Irish breed I have a friend with them and they are good for meat and milk
    Pete
     
  10. Tamandco

    Tamandco Junior Member

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    I haven't tried butter yet but I have whipped up the cream for desert or is that dessert (??). If you want to whip the cream, you need to leave it in the fridge for at least 24 hrs otherwise it doesn't whip very well. I assume making butter would be similar. I know the butter churns are quite slow and do the job gradually. I wonder if using the mixer would achieve a similar result. I know that you need to dry off all the buttermilk other wise it would go rancid, and I think the salt you add aids in preserving it.

    SueinWA, at least we agree on the worming issue. I would've hated to have gotten off on the wrong foot.

    Friends of mine have dexters. They also x their jersey with dexters too. They are excellent with their kids too and make a nice carcase being a dual purpose breed. I couldn't personally have one as a milker though as I'm way to tall with BIG hands so need a bigger cow. Ideally I should probably have a geurnsey (sp?) but haven't really managed to find one with the right temperament etc. We try to get good sized calves from our jersey and the angus is a good match for her size. Our aim is to sell them for the most $$$ possible as we really depend on that money each year, hence our choice of breeds. The foster calf we have this year is a belted galloway x friesian and we should get quite a bit of money for him (based on live weight). I wouldn't have a friesian as a house cow though as they produce mainly A1 milk as jerseys and guernseys produce mainly A2 milk.

    TB isn't too big an issue here in Oz. I've done some reading up on it and there's supposed not to have been a +vely tested cow for years and years. Brucellosis is a problem however. I have been discussing with my vet the option of having my cow tested, but again, because we have outside stock coming in and our cow does go off the property, the test results would become void all too often. I've been entering into discussions with local farmer in the effort to try and overcome this hurdle so we can use our milk in its raw state.

    Another advantage to raw milk is that it doesn't 'go off' like shop bought milk. Instead it sours which isn't the same thing. People who know their cheeses and yoghurts often utilise this characteristic in the manufacture of their products.

    In answer to your Q about AI. No we don't use AI because our vet charges too much for a one off and the expense would exceed the value of the resulting calf, especially when we have the use of several bulls for free.

    Based on the info of your property size, you will probably find that you'll need to feed out through winter at least until the spring growth kicks in so try buying your hay as soon as it's cut, while the prices are low. Alternatively, try getting some of last years, as long as it's been shedded and it's not mouldy or dusty. We had to buy hay in last year as I sold off half of ours (we got 110 bales that year) to pay off debts. Funnily enough, I bought the hay cheaper at $5 a bale rather than the $6 a bale we sold ours for so I can't really complain. We were about 20 bales short so this year we kept the lot which was 70 something bales as we didn't cut the whole property.

    Our chooks are really good at breaking up the cow pats. So do the white cockys and the eastern rosellas. We also have dung beetles so we have to be quick if we're going to collect the poo for our compost.

    Have you thought of any chook breeds? We have australorps for eggs and meat and silkies for the kids as pets.

    Tam
     
  11. sab

    sab Junior Member

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    There was something on the ABC about Dexter's last time I was in Aus (2003) That farm show - I've forgotten the name... Landlines.

    I was interested in the possiblilities and checked the prices. There were some for sale in Widgee (Qld) then for around $300.
     
  12. melinda

    melinda Junior Member

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    hey tam, i am 5 foot eleven with big hands too, so i am wondering about my compatability with the dexter breed, and i guess ,my partner who is 5 foot eleven may have trouble too. what do you think?

    you said you sell the calves,how many per year does your cow produce? what kind of price do they fetch? are they hard to sell? do you need to transport them yourself?

    as for chooks i just dont kow if i could kill a chook- i guess i should face it because i eat meat ( i am having the same issue with slaughtering a calf). so i dont know whether fatness is going to be an issue or whether i should just go for a good layer. i guess there is also the rooster issue if i do want to use chooks for meat. i wonder if i could make my partner do the slaughtering:) ? unfortunately he is not as interested in self sufficiency as I am.

    i found this link for dexter cattle https://dexter.une.edu.au/
    they certainley seem like a good option.

    Melinda
     
  13. Chook Nut

    Chook Nut Junior Member

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    Hi Melinda,

    As others have said, 2 acres of good grazing land should be enough. I have nearly 2 acres to run my steer on and that is enough except through the dry period in winter where the frost kills off the grass and they need to be fed so they dont lose weight and health. I get the bonus of using my neighbours empty 1 acre paddock which helps with rotation of paddocks.

    From what i have gathered by local farmers here, cattle like to be rotated b/c they get too much of their own scent from their wees and poos, which they're not too fond of! Apparently 4 days in each paddock is meant to be good. I use 3 all up so this ideal for my situation.

    As has been mentioned, buy feed when it is cheap, i can get good lucerne that hasnt been sprayed for $5-6 a bale during summer and keep it for winter feeding. Molasses, either liquid or in a block is good for getting your cows to eat the less palatable grass and is pretty cheap.

    I would recommend buying a cow when they are young, mine was very quiet, which neighbours commented on. I didnt go in the same paddock as him though when he got older b/c he became too 'playful' for me, especially at his size. And as has been mentioned, get them to learn u touching them everywhere, its good to check for things like ticks, cuts etc.(also b/c they are not with a herd they will like the company as they are a social animal) Mine loved being scratched behind the ears and on and under the snout.

    Try getting weeds identified in your paddocks too, this will help if u have any nasties that will make your cow sick.

    I fortunately never had to worm even though my neighbours did, their are simple natural things you can do to reduce having to use chemicals if thats what you want to aim for.

    I think that for all you have to learn, and their is always things you will if you want your animals health at optimum, using chemicals b4 you attain all that knowledge is not the end of the world. It can be quite a large investment to lose over principles.

    Good luck, dont be daunted b/c u should find a lot of ppl willing to help as i did, (they tend to show mercy to enthusiastic city slickers!).

    Dave
     
  14. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Melinda, cows have one calf a year, as their gestation is 9 months. The price varies to a certain extent depending on local conditions (cheaper in a drought than when times are good), supply & demand, breed, sex, etc. Ask around locally for an idea. If you get one for meat, be sure to name him Pot Roast or Rib Meat or something, so you don't lose sight of where you're going.

    I couldn't kill my chickens to eat them. I got them as chicks and raised them in my bathroom until it was warm enough to put them outside. I got them for eggs and land cleaning, and named them after old movie actresses. They will probably die of old age, wearing spectacles and wool socks.

    Depending on local laws, there are sometimes people who will come out to your place, kill the cow, skin it and dress it out, and wrap the meat for you. It is usually put in a cooler for a period of time before it goes into the freezer. Or you can deliver the cow to a slaughterhouse and they will take care of it from there. Some of them even have freezer lockers where you can keep the meat, withdrawing it as you need it (for a price, of course). Some places will do chickens for you, also.

    Sue
     
  15. Tamandco

    Tamandco Junior Member

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    Hi Melinda,

    Haven't been on for a few days so am a bit behind with this thread.

    We use a horse float (because we have one) for transporting our cows. If they had horns, which they haven't as they're poll bred, except for the jersey who had been dehorned as a baby, they wouldn't be allowed in my float for risk of damaging it. Most people around here use a tandem trailer with a stock crate.

    The float is fine for transporting our cow and the calves as they're all pretty well handled and will load up easily. Unfortunately the bulls we use are not and we can't load them into the float as they would trash it. Furthermore, without using the loading ramp, which is incompatible with a float because of the ramp and roof height clearance, the bulls just didn't seem to want to play ball. That's why we take our cow there rather than bring the bull home which is also an option.

    Friends of ours use a transport company to bring the bull to their house but they've got 30 odd cows to join so the cost is justifyable. With us, it's not.

    The price of the steers is based on the market price at the time of sale. If you ring your local stock agent, they should be able to advise you on the current price per kilo of live weight. When I sold my last one, it was just under the $2 per kilo. Some farms have scales, otherwise, an experienced farmer, or the agent will be able to fairly accurately guestimate your steer's weight.

    If you decide to head down this road, you will need to register with 2 separate governing bodies. One is the Department of Primary Industries where you'll need to register your property and apply for a 'Property Identification Code' so you can get your ear tags, and the other is Meat and Livestock Australia so you can get your 'vendor declaration' booklet which accompany any animal you sell through the sale yards, destined for slaughter. This is to declare to a potential buyer whan your stock have been exposed to or treated with during it's lifetime which can influence the type of buyer interested in your stock, and the price per kilo.

    It all sounds complicated but isn't too bad once it's all taken care of. And once it's done, it's done.

    Regarding the teat size. This is sometimes influenced by the breed but also by the individual. My jersey has particularly short teats for her breed. My friend's jersey has good size ones which make her job really easy. Breeders should be, and usually breed for this trait (in addition to a whole heap of other traits) as badly shapes, sized or placed teats can make a cow useless for a commercial herd if the milkers don't fit! My cow didn't make the herd. It's something I should've been more selective about when I was in the market to buy her.

    I don't know much about dexters as I mentioned in a previous post, but a reputable breeder should be able to advise you on this matter. You might come across a dexter with good sized teats for her breed. I'm only guessing here but I'd reckon that between all the breeds, there'd be a fair amount of overlap. Just bare it in mind when you start looking for your cow.

    Just a funny adnote. I was feeding out this evening and saw the foster steer I'd weaned in March, drinking from the cow which'd been off with the bull, and separated from him, for 8 weeks.

    Another good book to read is Pat Coleby's Natural Farming or Farm Management, something like that. Did I mention The Healthy House Cow by Marja Fitzsomethingorrather available from Earth Garden and the Good Life Book Club. Both excellent reads. Marja's book makes you really want to go out and get a cow. It also has a good little plan for some milking bales. I'd give this a fair bit of thought though as you'll need somewhere to mark (castrate) and eartag your babies so you'll really need yards small enough to cater, or dual purpose milking bales/cattle crush.

    Keep us posted,
    Tam
     
  16. sab

    sab Junior Member

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  17. baringapark

    baringapark Junior Member

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    Hi
    I recently joined this group and have already spent hours reading all the wonderful information contained here. I am now looking forward to obtaining my own jersey cow and am very excited about the prospect of milking her and watching her raise babies.

    Any advice on where to purchase and what to look for gratefully accepted. Also, how can I ensure she will adopt the poddy calves I will buy for her? When I want to find her a bull which beef breeds are best for easy calving?

    thanks

    Elizabeth
     
  18. Tamandco

    Tamandco Junior Member

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    Hi Elizabeth,

    If you attend one of the field days like Seymour Alternative Farming Expo in February, you can get to meet a few of the big breeders with QUALITY dairy cows that are used to being handled and milked twice daily.

    Alternatively, if you are keen to get one soon, go to YellowPages.com.au and type in Jersey Breeders.

    The best type of beef breeds to put over a Jersey are the smallish ones as Jersey's aren't very big themselves. Cost is an issue too so if you choose to put a Dexter over your cow, but have to Travel 100's of km to get one, then that's not going to be economically viable as any profit you make on the sale of the calf will be eaten up in travel costs and potentially, service fees. If you've got someone in your area with a Dexter who could accomadate you for one cow, then that's a bonus. We use Angus bulls as they are plentiful in our area, you can always get the use of one for free, and they're not too big.

    Ensuring that she'll take a foster calf is more difficult. We bought our Jersey in calf and in milk, with a foster calf which she never really accepted. Her own calf had been sold prior to our picking them up. The funny thing though was that when he was bigger, we'd occasionally spring him having a suckle off her. Most of the time though, she'd just kick him in the head and turn away. Until he was old enough to be weaned, we had to put her in the bails to feed him twice a day which was a real pain.

    I have liaised with the previous owner who manages an Angus stud in the area and keeps the Jerseys as a bit of a hobby and a bit of a money spinner, about the problem and her advice was to as she will end up accepting him, she always has done in the past. We put down the failure to the fact that the calf was introduced to her way too late and her own calf had already been taken off her, causing her stress. This sounded fair enough.

    The following year when her calf was born, we introduced the foster calf immediately. Once again, she rejected him and we had to put her in the bails until they were a few weeks old. By then, he would feed while she was tied up and feeding her own. Once they were about 6 weeks old he was assertive enough and smart enough to sneak in whenever her own calf took a drink so we left them to fend for themselves, which they did until we sold her calf (we needed the $$$) and she [email protected]#$%d off the other calf. But once again, I do catch him having a suckle every now again, I think she must be daydreaming!

    This time, I'm going to collect some of the amniotic fluid etc from her own calf to rub on the foster calf and hopefully we'll have more luck.

    A few of my friends in our area are doing the same thing and they don't have any trouble getting their Jerseys to accept the introduced calf. Our cow does have a bad temper, she kick and fusses and is quite stubborn so I'm putting it down to temperament. Now when I speak to her previous owner, she admits that the cow's always been difficult!!!! So in a nutshell, it's buyer beware!

    I'm not sure if I'll keep her much longer anyway as she's getting on a bit in years but next time I'll be buying from a proper breeder and I'm going to be a lot more cautious, even if it takes a while to find the right one. Some people put their heifers in calf and sell them as a 'house cow' even though they've never been milked!!! I think you need to be able to view a full milking prior to purchase. I didn't do that.

    Tam
     
  19. biofarmag

    biofarmag Junior Member

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    cow on 2 acres

    It depends on the country a bit, but you'd still be pushing it. You'll find that pasture growth will slow during winter, and it'll be very easy for it to be flogged out by a hungry animal. The feed quality will drop off too, ie. Daisy the cow will be struggling for protein, etc. if not supplemented. You can easily end up with bare patches, which can either erode away and/or allow weeds to take hold. Ideally, pastures should be spelled and the stock moved on to fresh country. One cow on the same 2 acres.....not good for Daisy, and not good for the soil and the pasture.
     

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