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SLynn

15 Posts


Posted - Apr 06 2017 :  05:24:49 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi All! We've been offered a bred, half mini jersey heifer. The sellers are great folks, who not only take great care of their livestock, but have offered us hands on support throughout our dairy cow journey. Nonetheless, my husband and I have some concerns. Mainly because we're new to cows, and she's new to giving birth, milking, etc. This could be a slippery slope for us. BUT she also could be a gem! Thoughts?

We hear that she's in great health, but she's a bit aloof; preferring to stay in the back pasture with her herd mates. Am I correct in thinking that in time, with training, she may become more "personable"? I know so much depends on their disposition.... Should new cow owners generally stay away from heifers?

Thank you for your input. It's much appreciated!

maryjane

6883 Posts


Posted - Apr 06 2017 :  06:45:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good morning Lynn. I have a couple of ideas but first what do you know about the heifer's mother and their milking program in general? Are you able to meet the heifer and watch them milk her mother and see her udder and find out how much milk she gives?

The mini Jerseys aren't really a breed. In order to size down a Jersey, a handful of early US breeders bred Jerseys with smaller animals, like Dexters, so you can get into issues with milk amounts and in the process sometimes lose the one quality we love about Jersey's--their cream. All the information you can get about her mother and sire would be most helpful and a good starting place.

If that information is available and meets your expectations, you might ask them to shoot a couple of quick cell phone videos of them walking up to the heifer, putting a halter on her, hooking up a lead rope, and walking with her. Then another video of them getting her head into a milking stanchion and what she does when they touch her rear feet and udder.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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SLynn

15 Posts


Posted - Apr 06 2017 :  11:22:47 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you for the great insight, Maryjane. I find genetics so fascinating!

This heifer was AI'd, but I do have information on the mother. She's been a wonderful milker with no health issues in all her 8 years. I've met her actually. Lovely cow. She's been giving just over 2 gallons a day and she's late in her lactation. From what I saw she has a great udder with nice teat placement. As far as cream - I know that her milk is what they use for their butter, ice cream, etc. so that seems promising.

I will be seeing the heifer in the coming weeks, and I will be able to make a better assessment of her disposition. Great advice regarding seeing her haltered, lead into the station, and so on. They have been able to touch her all over - that seems like a positive. We can deal with a shy disposition, just not a crazy one!

The hesitation that we have is that she's not a proven mother or milker. That doesn't mean she won't be, but it's just a concern of ours.

Thank you again for answering me!
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txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Apr 06 2017 :  4:55:06 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
i started with a trained jersey milk cow, thanks MJ!, as i had NO farm or livestock experience so felt it was right for our family. i think a lot of people could do this with a heifer and do fine, but i am a nerdy accountant so all the animal/livestock stuff didn't come real natural to me. if i had a neighbor close by that milked a cow, like 15-20 minutes away, then perhaps it might have been an option as i would have offered to milk for them for a month or so - they could train me, and then i'd do all the work so they could relax and i could learn.

so thats just me.

so my only concern if i had the guts to get an untrained cow, is i want to SEE them walk up to that cow, put the halter on and lead it around. then even if it isn't in a stanchion, can i tie that lead to a corral and touch the cow all over and groom her?

i only had one milk cow before. after that, and months of learning cow stuff with that trained cow, last year we jumped in the deep end and bought our third jersey - a bread heifer. but she was a showcow, so from day one she let us do everything with her... so i had no concern about milking her. just started taking her in the parlor a month before she was due and worked with her regarding the stanchion and getting used to it. she's been a dream - a heifer that calved without effort and is milked with little training.

that said, i'll probably do it again and end up with a situation like MJ's sweetheart - a cow that doesn't exactly want to be milked under the circumstances. sorry to bring up the bad memories maryjane ;>

so i am a gut feel person, and a trust but verify person. so if you feel good about this, have a good gut, and that cow is as amiable as they present - then get a vet check, a preg check (do NOT do without this one) and then go for it. do what feels right for you and your family.

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
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maryjane

6883 Posts


Posted - Apr 07 2017 :  06:49:34 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good morning Lynn. Everything sounds ideal, especially that you'll be getting to meet her soon. Let's hope it's a match made in heaven. Keep us in the know. We're excited for you.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Apr 07 2017 :  3:42:39 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
apparently i purchased a "wonder bread" cow - "bread" instead of "bred" :>

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
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maryjane

6883 Posts


Posted - Apr 07 2017 :  3:54:06 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
One of my husband's little gems (that he re-words appropriately) is, "If she's old enough to go to the store, she's old enough to get bread."

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Apr 08 2017 :  8:41:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
mj that made me LOL. nick is a funny guy, as is my lover boy ;>

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
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SLynn

15 Posts


Posted - Apr 09 2017 :  02:39:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good morning! Thank you both for your replies. So helpful. Wonder bread - Ha!

So, I was able to see miss heifer in action yesterday. She is adorable, for sure, but really needs some training. She's extremely nervous, in my opinion. Maybe because she's young and she didn't know me? I could only touch her when she was in a stanchion, and even then only on her back. She was apprehensive about me brushing/scratching anywhere near her udder. However, her owner was able to. He said she's come a long way and does respond to training.

She stood still only long enough to eat her hay snack, and then she was all over the place with her back end. Difficult to approach in pasture as well. Now, I feel that with time she has the potential to be a great cow as she's not aggressive; she just seems to want to be left alone.

Thinking she may be a bit much for our family's first leap into a family dairy cow. We really want a family friendly cow that our whole family can enjoy, learn from, love on, milk (this one's pretty important!), etc. We have time to think it over, thankfully.

Thanks again, and I will keep you posted!
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maryjane

6883 Posts


Posted - Apr 09 2017 :  09:18:27 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm of the opinion that training at an early age is essential. It's the old dog idea. With the two girls I bought recently who'd gone through dairy boot-camp, they are definitely trained to walk into a head stanchion and stand there without much shifting (and zero leg lifting) the entire time. But I seriously doubt I'm going to be able to halter train them at this late date without a huge amount of effort. The only problem it poses really is getting them into a trailer. The man who sold them to me said he would train them before they left since that's what I wanted but he was unable to do so as it turns out. It they'd been trained at an early age, not a problem. By early, I mean at one month, two months ... early! We take our little heifers for walks so that later on, they stand like statues when I approach with a halter. The cows I've brought here after the fact are never as good with the halter as my born-here heifers. Plus, you have to keep up with any training they have received.

Anyway, I think you're doing the right thing in giving it a lot of thought. I wonder if the owners brought home their cow (the mother of your heifer--the one that is such a good milker) already trained? Just wondering why they haven't trained her heifer if they planned on selling her. Caution is good!

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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NellieBelle

11033 Posts


Posted - Apr 10 2017 :  2:32:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I say, "if in doubt, keep on the look out." I'm sure your friendly milk cow is out there Lynn. Better to be cautious and patient than to get a cow that doesn't work out. Like MaryJane, I purchased a milk cow from the same man and she is a sweetheart. She is not halter trained, however she does everything we ask of her and she hasn't been a problem at all. We are pleased with her. I showed her the stanchion once. Now when I ask her to go to the stanchion she does, like she has been doing it here forever. It will be fun to hunt and find the perfect milk cow. Best to you in your search.

To laugh is human but to moo is bovine. Author Unknown
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SLynn

15 Posts


Posted - Jun 08 2017 :  12:58:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Update: I wanted to close out this thread by saying that we finally have found the right cow for our family. :) Yay! Our patience really paid off.

She is a 4 year old Jersey bred back and due in early March. She calves with ease, and is an excellent mother. No health issues, no mastitis, no milk fever history, great looking feet, etc. I was able to touch her all over and she didn't even flinch. She's even the light color I was hoping for. Bonus!
She'll be with us in another week and a half.

This cow search has a very happy ending. I'll post pictures in the near future. Thanks again for all your help!

I'm off to read "Milk Cow Kitchen" for the millionth time. ;) It's a treasure to me. <3
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NellieBelle

11033 Posts


Posted - Jun 08 2017 :  1:08:03 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Congratulations on your Jersey cow Lynn! This is wonderful news. The sounds pretty. Can't wait for name, pictures and all about your Jersey milk cow. Yap, the Milk Cow Kitchen, it's the go-to book.

To laugh is human but to moo is bovine. Author Unknown
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maryjane

6883 Posts


Posted - Jun 08 2017 :  5:31:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Fabulous news! I'm so happy for you. For sure, let us share in your joy with a photo or two or twenty:)

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Jun 09 2017 :  05:36:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
congrats lynn, that is wonderful!

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
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