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Author Topic: Feeding the dairy/house cow  (Read 8392 times)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Feeding the dairy/house cow
« on: June 18, 2014, 12:29:26 am »
Seeing that we have a dairy expert (or several) on the forum, I thought I'd start a thread on feeding the dairy/house cow.

I am struggling a bit to get it right with my Jerseys.

Initially, wanting a house cow or two which would rear their own calves and give milk for the house, I was looking for something relatively low yielding, either a dairy cross or a three-quartered dairy reject.  However, BH wouldn't countenance anything but a pedigree Jersey heifer, so that's where I started.

(Had I known then what I know now, I would have convinced him to let me have Shetlands.  But now I have my Jerseys, I couldn't be without them :hugcow:  :love: :cow:)

Well I knew a high-yielding Jersey heifer was going to be waaaayyy too productive for my requirement, so bought calves to set on her alongside her own.  Hillie reared 4 calves her first year, 5 calves the second year, she and her daughter reared 6 calves between them last year (that should've been 9, but I had other things on my plate so they got an easy year ;)) and their first 4 calves this year are just ready to wean now.

I've also taken milk for the pet lambs each year.

I find I can manage the milk production reasonably well by how much cake I give; when the grass is good and I'm just taking a couple of litres or so for the house, I don't really need to be giving any cake if she's just got one calf, and only a little if she has two young ones.  By the time the calves are 4 months old (I keep them on to 4 or sometimes 5 months), she'll need a bit of cake to help her once the grass is past its best.

Plenty was born here and has never been fed or reared for stupendous production.  I guess she gives about 15L a day with a bit of cake; at the moment, rearing her own strapping great 4 month-old heifer and getting raided by one of the set-on Herefords too, plus me taking between 3L and 4.5L a day, she loses weight if I give her less than 2kg 18% protein cake per day.

Hillie was reared on a diary farm, destined for the commercial dairy.  Her output has always been high (and her bag huge.)  Because Plenty gives less, and I milk Plenty (she's easier and faster to milk than Hillie), the two set-ons mostly drink from Hillie.  Plus Plenty's calf suckles Hillie if she's drained Plenty.  So I can only guess how much Hillie is producing, but it must be at least 25L, probably quite a bit more.

I am struggling to keep weight on Hillie.  If I feed her more she just seems to produce more milk, and the calves don't need more, so that's a waste of money.

I am thinking that, being bred and reared as a high-production cow, she actually needs to be fed for maximum production in order to carry any weight, so I am thinking I should probably put more calves on her to use up the additional milk. 

Does that make sense?  Or is there some trick of feeding a dairy cow which puts weight on the cow without increasing the milk yield?
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing
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trish.farm

  • Joined Feb 2014
  • hampshire
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2014, 10:25:59 am »
really good question Sally.  As you know I only had my first calf this year from one of my Jerseys. 

We happened to have a Jersey Dairy farmer on our farm earlier this morning looking at a piece of machinery he wants to buy.  I diverted him across the farm to take a peek at my (rather decreasing  :( ) small herd.  Daisy who has her own calf and one set on is looking a bit ribby, so I asked him what he thought.  She is on not brilliant grazing and a scoop of dairy nuts a day.

"She looks fine my love, your other 2 heifers look like beef animals!! She will pick up nicely once you wean the babies off, though i would leave them with her for the winter and self wean, just separate a good 6 weeks before next calving.  She is a dairy cow not a beef animal, not a problem seeing a few ribs"

Daisy was mortified at this comment, I think she was expecting him to say up to cake and put some weight on her.  Poor girl!! 

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 11:00:15 am »
I'm glad you have been reassured that Daisy is fine :)

I am used to the Jerseys being more skinny than the sucklers, of course, but Hillie is quite a bit skinnier now than she has been in previous lactations, and as she is a high production girl I worry that I'd like her to have a little bit more 'in store' in case she has any kind of setback any time.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Backinwellies

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Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2014, 04:48:20 pm »
I would just make sure you wean calves off giving her longer to gain weight before next calf.
Linda

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Ladygrey

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Basingstoke
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2014, 05:42:32 pm »
First off, I know nothing about the jersey cow breed in particular

Feed input is directly related to yield, also how much she is putting out, so if she has one calf then she will produce less milk than if she has 4 (or is milked full time)

If Hillie is giving 25 litres per day and has a 2 month dry period, (no idea how long her dry period is?) then she is milking for 300 days per year, thats 7,500 litres per year!! thats as much as some of our mid-lower yielding fresians who are (currently) grazing on ryegrass and clover leys and being buffer fed a TMR plus cake in the parlour.

The amount of cake we feed is based on litres given above 10, if a cow gives 10 litres per milking (20 litres per day) she gets 1kilo of cake fed in parlour per feed, for every 5 litres per day above that we give an extra 0.5 of a kilo, so a cow giving 25 litres will be given 3 kilos of cake per day, 1.5kilo per feed

The cows are fed 40-50kilo per cow per day of TMR during the winter (no grazing time) when they are grazing they are just buffer fed

During the fist 30 days in milk they tend to loose weight and look a little ribby, however with the cake and TMR we soon get them looking nice, these are not holteins, they are friesians and look like this when in good condition http://www.cogentuk.com/images/118-kirkby-monica-7-jpg

However I do know that jerseys are small and will not require the amount of feed as the friesians would

When a cow calves and gets moved to the "fresh" group, she is put onto top rations that the high yielders are on, this is a different blend to the normal ration, it is higher in fats and proteins in order to keep the weight on whilst they are giving a high yield.
If a calving cow is fed lots just after calving her body produces more milk as food is plentifull, so after calving the cow is fed loads of good food and milked as much as she will give wich sets her up for a higher yield rest of her lactation, after 30 days on this ration if her yield is less than 25litres per day she is moved to the low yielders as she wont be able to peak higher.

Last year during an awful TB time on the farm, which gave us a 60day standstill, some heifers calved down the road and we werent able to bring them home for 2 weeks, they only had grazing and 1 calf on each, we didnt take them silage as then they would produce too much milk and lift the risk of mastitis.

These cows when brought home didnt ever produce much in the first lactation, as they didnt need to, they also kept condition on well (too well) as they were only milking for one calf and not being fed a huge amount.

So depending on how far she is in to her lactation, if you milked less and gave her bland-er foods, barley straw, maize silage, high DM hay then she may reduce her yield, or to keep body condition on her as she is producing a large amount of milk, I would give her 3 kilo of cake per day, and buffer her grass with silage or high sugar hay whilst she is being milked, or offer in a rack out at grass, also protein in the form of molasses helps at the rate of 2 kilo (2 litre) per cow per day

If she has been bred for milk production then it may be best to feed her like a dairy cow and utilize the milk, 25 litres is a good amount! or milk her less and make her food blander but dont leave her hungry, straw is good or hay

Hope this helps, not sure what else to suggest

Jess


trish.farm

  • Joined Feb 2014
  • hampshire
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2014, 07:57:21 pm »
Hmm, my Jersey is seriously ribby compared to the gorgeous friesian in the picture.  Sally can you put a picture up of Hillie so we can see how ribby she is?

Ladygrey

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Basingstoke
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2014, 08:21:38 pm »
This is my favorite, Gruffalo, granted she is fluffy but she also isn't very ribby, a 12 year old cow that had to be shot last year was really ribby and thin, but generally I think the holstein types are much ribbier than the friesians

Myabe jerseys are more ribby than friesians are?

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2014, 10:02:30 pm »
Okay.

In each pic, Plenty is to the right of Hillie.  Hillie is Plenty's mum.  Hillie is in her 4th lactation, Plenty in her 2nd.

First pic is early April, calves just over a month old.  Hillie about where I'd like her to stay, Plenty still carrying good condition and I expected her to lose a bit of this.

Second pic is nearly a month later, they're skinny enough now for Jerseys in full lactation.

Third pic is 10 days ago.  Too thin now, look at the spine, standing proud of the ribs.  If these were sheep I'd be giving them CS1.5  :o.  That's too low.



Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2014, 10:16:36 pm »
Ladygrey, your long post is exactly what I was hoping for, thank you very much.  I will study it and think about how that translates to what I am doing, then come back and check that I have understood it correctly!

A couple of questions already, though.

Firstly, what is 'buffer feeding'?  Does this mean dry forage on top of grazed grass?  This is anathema to the beef farmer, of course, but if that's what my girls need then that's what they shall have!  Only thing is that they run with the sucklers, so to give them dry forage I will have to take them offgrass while they eat the hay.  And life being life, they will inevitably then spend time shut up with hay when they need and want to be out munching fresh grass  :-\   I don't think I can swing it for them to have their own field, not at the moment, anyway.  Maybe when we've made a crop of hay / silage all round.

Secondly, you mention a ration for high yielders, with more fats and protein, designed to keep the weight on while the yield is at its highest.  That sounds like what I need, especially for Hillie.  Is there anything I can add to her normal ration - which is the normal 18% cattle cake we get from our feed merchant - or do I need to seek out a 20% dairy cake from another supplier?  (I've asked the normal supplier for something like this before, but I only occasionally get given a 20% 'summer energy' one, normally when I get home I find I've been given the 18% one as usual. ::))
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

trish.farm

  • Joined Feb 2014
  • hampshire
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2014, 11:15:23 pm »
Sally, the dairy nuts I am feeding from Mole Valley Farmers is a 20% I think, will look on the bag in the morning.  Grower cake i get is 18% but they suggested i gave Daisy the dairy nuts as she had a set on calf and poor grass.  Looking at your pics she is at 2nd pic condition. I am not taking any milk off her now as milking stopped when I was ill.  She is not bagging up to that bursting stage so is obviously producing less milk but holding her condition with 2 calves, one of which is a mahoosive hereford x.  She had dropped condition slightly as feeding went a bit rubbish whilst my OH was looking after them as he didnt know how to feed daisy without the others getting it.  The dairy nuts really picked her up once i was feeding again.

Backinwellies

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Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2014, 07:33:31 am »
I milked 80 Jersey's for 2 years .... yes they are supposed to be bony..... and will 'milk off their back'.

 A higher protein cake is a good idea but I doubt you will put weight back on her till she is dry.  Grass from July/Aug  onwards won't have enough goodness in it so added forage is  a good idea.   
Linda

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Ladygrey

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Basingstoke
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2014, 08:08:43 am »
Buffer feeding = feeding for milk produced above what can be produced on grass alone

The friesians are expected to produce 3,000-4,000 litres off just grass, or 14 litres per day, 7 litres per milking over a say 280 day lactation

The buffer feed is added feed to allow the cows to reach 8,000 litres, or 28 litres per day

If the cows are not buffer fed, then any milk produced above 14 litres per day is taken off of their backs, ie from the fat on their body, mainly off the fat stores in their backs, you will hear a farmer saying "she milks off her back" for the first say 30 days of her lactation when she looses some condition after calving. if milking off thier body fat they do end up looking like your Hilly, although some breeds just do this and look bony anyway and jerseys are probly one of them

Our British friesians weigh maybe 600 kilo, after selecting for a smaller size some can be just under 600kilo, holsteins are 800kilo, google says jerseys are 400-500kgs
So im guessing a jersey could take maybe 40kilo of food per day?
A cow can pick up 10-15kilo of Dry matter from grazing per day, thats 30kilos of grass, so she may need to be fed an extra ten kilos of buffer every day.
25 litres per day is average to low for a friesian but as she is a jersey I expect this is high yielding
A high yielding cow needs to be on 20% dairy nuts, and buffer fed with better stuff than hay as hay is just packing her with more Dry matter, low yielders get fed hay or straw
Unless you fed her hay with mollasess poured ontop?

Our high yielders are fed the following during the winter

Grass silage at 14-16% protein ideally, 26kg per cow, the clamps are re-sampled every week as the protein levels can change throughout depending on what fields the grass came from
Maize silage, this is important for the starch as it a low protein crop, 5-7% 17 kilo per cow
Cake compound 4kg per cow
Mollasses 2kg per cow
Minerals 1 kilo per cow

This is placed behind feed barriers and they eat it over 24hrs

In the summer the ration stays the same, however instead of 50kilo per cow, we may feed 10-25kilo per cow, so if 180 cows are milking, me mix up a 80 cow ration, it changes every day though, depending how quickly the cows ate the buffer, how hungry they look, how much they left over, and the quality of grazing, if they left loads I will decrease the herd by 5 cows when I mix up the next batch, 5 cows being 250 kilo

If its hard to up her rations, then just take away some of the milkings/calves and feed her hay to top her up and this should lower her yield, I dont know how you can do this if they are sharing a field with beef animals

Our cows often reach 7-8th lactation often 10th lactation, they are often put in the "sick" cow group, as they dont have to cross the road then, they are fed the same as the high yielders to keep weight on as keeping weight on a cow that may soon be a cull is important

If you upped her nuts to 3kilo per day and 20% protein, and tried to give her some mollasess poured onto hay that would help? I would giver her 10 kilo of grass/maize silage mix per day and 20% nuts, however mollasses and hay may be easier for you to feed her, or a mollasses lick?

Sorry I'm not very good with cows that are not in a dairy farm context, if she was here I would put her in the sick cow group for a month to pick up condition and then move her to the high yielders, if she gets too fat then she can go back down to the low yielders before being dried off, or just wait until she is dry and she would put weight back on then




SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2014, 09:27:05 am »
I do mix mollichaff in with Hillie's feed, so I can give her more of that, and switch her onto a 20% ration.  There's no problem getting Hillie to eat more cake, she has a stupendous appetite!   :D 

Plenty will only eat so much but as she produces far less I can get a bit of weight back onto her just by increasing the protein in the amount of cake she does eat.  And she likes soaked sugar beet too, so I can give her extra by mixing that with her feed.

For two cows I've no way of getting silage for them in the summer.  But I am sure they would eat nice hay and have thought of a way of getting some into them.  When they come up for the calves in the morning, I'll get BH to let them into a shed where there's a hopper, and they can munch hay for half an hour before I come and get them for milking.  They mostly don't graze once they've come up to wait for the calves anyway, so it wouldn't be eating into their grazing time.

Linda - from the pics, does Hillie then look like you would expect a 4th lactation Jersey to look?  As you say, I may not be able to put any weight back onto her, but at least I can try to stop her losing any more!
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2014, 10:13:37 am »
Apologies for going off topic, but how do you manage the cow and calf if you are milking?

Do you seperate them for a few hours then milk the cow? Do you bring the calf in and feed it as per waterbuffalofarmer or bring the cow in? What time do you do thsi at?

If I tried to bring Annie in (my most likely milker, although I may have left it too late AGAIN), the other cows would come too but probably not Annie's calf and it woudl be a rammy at the gate.

I just can't get my head round this. Feeding's not a problem for Shetlands - they don't yield so much and live on fresh air. I have some sugar beet and 18% cake for Annie if I ever get the other bit sorted.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Feeding the dairy/house cow
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2014, 02:23:59 pm »
Well, it is a heck of a lot easier to train a heifer, and from the very first day, so yes you may have your work cut out now!

At the beginning, the cow has plenty of milk, way more than the teeny newborn calf can drink, so you just take the cow up to the byre (where she is already used to going and getting some yummy cake, and having you mess around her udder, so that's not new and she trots off no bother) and take a little milk each time.  Then back to calfie.

By the time the calf is a few weeks to a month old, there won't be much milk for you unless you keep the calf off, yes.  So when mum comes back from having something to munch in the byre, she goes into a different place, where she can see and hear the calf but not feed it.  Some people set up an arrangement where she can nuzzle and lick the calf, but not feed it.  If you are doing this with just one cow and just one calf, I would probably do the same, but I always have a set-on calf as well, so calfie isn't alone, and I put the cow wherever there are other cows.  At first you will only need a few hours, so overnight is plenty, for the cow to bag up.  Then take her off to the byre, cake and milk her.  When you've had what you want, bring calfie up to her, or take her back to calfie, whichever suits.  When you're setting other calves on, you always bring the calves to the cow while she is still tied up and eating cake, so they get a good feed while she's occupied.  If she is only rearing her own calf, this isn't an issue, so you can take her to the calf if it suits you better.

Thinking about this in your situation, Rosemary, I think I would bring two, or even all, of the cows in to have a feed - just give the one(s) you won't be milking a bit of 16%, or some soaked sugar beet, mixed with some chaff or something, so not overfeeding but something they'll enjoy - so that the cow has company and the calf also has company.  The cows will very quickly learn that they'll get cake, and come asking for it, so then you will be able to take just the cow or cows you want in, and leave everyone else outside.

For me, I like to have the calves indoors overnight so I can teach them to eat cake, but this won't be an issue for you, so you may find it easier to bring the cow or cows in overnight and leave all the calves out with the other cows.

Does that help?
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

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