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10 years 5 months ago #36462 by Short Plank
Hello all.

Some of you will know from my thread "A journey in Hell" below that after a 10-day battle following her calving we've just lost our obstreperous, cantakerous, over-egoed, thoroughly disagreeable, much-loved Jersey housecow Chloe.

This puts us in an unexpected position, and advice on two points would be appreciated.

Fortunately we have a second, 'stand-by' housecow, Rata. She's an ancient, bony Friesian who won our hearts several years ago by escaping the cattle-truck chute from a nearly farm and swimming across the bay to our place - and who we kept as company for Chloe and as a milker when Chloe was in calf. Essentially we calved one of them every year 'in rotation' as it were, letting them rear their calf while we milked the other.

Rata calved in January this year and would have been 'retired' from milking, dried off and sent to the bull again after Christmas when Chloe 'came on stream' for us. That obviously now won't happen. Rata is still producing 7 or so litres a day for us in two milkings - from three quarters - but my question is - how long will she continue producing milk if we keep milking her? Two years? Three? Once Chloe's calf is weaned we'll only need 3 -4 litres or so a day for the household. How long can we expect her to keep producing this? (Four or five years is the longest we're looking to remain here - we're getting too old, and our hearts too bruised to take too much more of this.)

And can someone give me a quick guide to the milk requirements of Chloe's calf? How much should she be getting daily by bottle? How many times? For how long? Does the amount she need increase as she grows or decrease as she gets into grass? Should we get commercial calf-feed for her? 'Mooslie' or something, is it?

Thanks for your time.

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10 years 5 months ago #475542 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic The Milkbar is open
Sorry can't remember how old Chloe's calf is, but generally 2 litres at each end of the day plus access to water and grass. If Mum hasn't shown her how a trough works, you might have to with your finger in the mouth going into water. Up to you whether you want to supplement or not and of course your grass supply.

We dry each Girl off at the end of so may days (sorry farming Hubby isn't here, I think its about 160 days or so after birthing from memory).

Gives them time to put more into their body and the upcoming baby esp. over a dry summer.

I'm currently getting on short grass from Daphne a jersey 12 litres a day one milking a day, and with Daisy who has a calf at foot either 10 litres like this afternoon or 20 litres like the other day, also on one day milking. I don't know why she fluctuates, I can only assume its because I got to her before her calf did.

We have just moved the herd into another paddock so I am expecting milk supply to go up.

So many variables.....

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10 years 5 months ago #475547 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic The Milkbar is open
Why don't you put Rata back in calf as planned? You don't have to dry her off then for several more months.

Most hand-reared calves get much less than they would on their mothers. We fed my cow's orphaned calf last year from 11 weeks and he took seven litres every day and grew about as fast as he would have done on his mother.

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10 years 5 months ago #475568 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic The Milkbar is open
Our cow/s have to go away for kisses and cuddles; not far, but they obviously have to be dried off first.

And when we dry Rata off now we lose our household milk supply - we ony get rural mail etc. twice a week at the end of a road that turns milk into cheese.

So it's a question of whether we can now rely on milking Rata continuously for the rest of our time here or whether we need to look to replace Chloe, perhaps with an in-calf cow although the logistics of getting one out here are formidable - and when/how soon we'd need to do it. So will a cow continue to produce milk for as long as she's milked even if it's for years? - even if it's just two or three litres/day which is all we'll need once the calf is weaned. I recall milking one of Chloe's predecessors for four years straight but she was a prolific young Jersey.

Similarly, putting Chloe's calf on Rata would lose us our household milk - if Rata would accept it unless there is a way of share-milking. We did it when we only had one cow with a netting udder support which we cut two holes in for the fore teats, making them available to the calf, while I milked the rear two quarters. However we had to obtain the udder supports from family in Denmark and they say they can no-longer get them.

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10 years 5 months ago #475576 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic The Milkbar is open
Kisses and cuddles? You've not watched cattle mating much, have you?! [}:)] :D

It sounds like you've set up a really complicated life in an enormously remote location. Did you choose that or was it happenstance? It's interesting to hear why people choose where they go, especially in the interests of sharing stories with those who come here looking for experience and advice on how they might proceed.

Who knows how long your cow might milk; most carry-over cows continue for another season, but production goes down. I guess if it's your only option, you'll have to - and maybe you could report back here some time on how long you continue to get enough milk from Rata if she remains empty?

Presumably if you continue to keep her in good health and feed her well, she might carry on and on. We've only ever milked for nine months before drying off to give our cow a break before calving again. I don't know that I'd want to be dealing with an adult cow on heat every three weeks otherwise.

There's no way you could pop along and milk Rata each morning when she's away?

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10 years 5 months ago #475596 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic The Milkbar is open
Or you could consider a milking goat to cover the time when your cow is dry. If transport is difficult to get in another cow, at least goats will travel in a small trailer, or the back of the car, or even a ute with deck cage. They also adapt very well to companions for other animals.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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10 years 5 months ago #475615 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic The Milkbar is open

Ruth;478698 wrote: Kisses and cuddles? You've not watched cattle mating much, have you?! [}:)] :D

Can't say that I make a habit of it. But if my girls regard the bull the way they regard me here would be no meek yes-sirring going on.

Ruth;478698 wrote: It sounds like you've set up a really complicated life in an enormously remote location. Did you choose that or was it happenstance? It's interesting to hear why people choose where they go, especially in the interests of sharing stories with those who come here looking for experience and advice on how they might proceed.

Can't say it's really complicated - most of the time things chug along unremarkably in their predestinate groove (in short not a bus, but a tram). However when things do go wrong our distance from anywhere greatly complicates matters. Having lost our housecow yesterday my wife had to set off at 8.15 this morning for the vets' clinic with our blind chiuhauhua pup who is obviously unwell - and she won't be there until almost 11.00. Clearly we worship the wrong god.

We're in the central Marlborough Sounds, refugees from the UK from way back. I grew up in rural England but worked in London, and there's plenty of similar on a smaller scale in NZ. However the Sounds are like nothing in the UK - Western Scotland comes closest but the weather is mostly atrocious - and we just fell in love with the 'ambience', tho' it's changed hugely for the worst in the nearly 20-years we've been here and it won't be hard to leave.

Ruth;478698 wrote: Who knows how long your cow might milk; most carry-over cows continue for another season, but production goes down. I guess if it's your only option, you'll have to - and maybe you could report back here some time on how long you continue to get enough milk from Rata if she remains empty?

Presumably if you continue to keep her in good health and feed her well, she might carry on and on. We've only ever milked for nine months before drying off to give our cow a break before calving again. I don't know that I'd want to be dealing with an adult cow on heat every three weeks otherwise.

Output certainly drops when she's on heat, but that's the only problem I've had in that direction. We' won't be calving the old girl again, she's done her dash in that direction. If she only produces a couple of litres a day she'll be earning her keep, and if she'll do it pretty much indefinitely it will help our planning.

Ruth;478698 wrote: There's no way you could pop along and milk Rata each morning when she's away?

I suspect I'd have the bull breathing down my neck while I did it.

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10 years 5 months ago #475617 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic The Milkbar is open

Stikkibeek;478718 wrote: Or you could consider a milking goat to cover the time when your cow is dry. If transport is difficult to get in another cow, at least goats will travel in a small trailer, or the back of the car, or even a ute with deck cage. They also adapt very well to companions for other animals.

On the few occasions I've had goat's milk - probably not a fair sample - I've always found it rather 'pungent'. I'd very much prefer ewe's milk but getting a dairy ewe out here would be a real challenge.

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10 years 5 months ago #475632 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic The Milkbar is open
Could someone help with advice on my initial, fundamental questions?

Presently we have 4 - 5 litres 'spare' from Rata daily we can give Chloe's calf, and I understand this is sufficient at his age now of 12 days. But:

1. How many weeks does a calf require bottle feeds?

2. Does the amount remain constant at that 4 - 5 litres or does the calf's requirement increase as it grows? If so at what rate?

3. If we get a sack of calf-milk powder to back-up Rata's supply - should there be a shortfall for any reason - is it best administered mixed with any raw milk available or in its own as a separate feed? I've a dim and distant and possibly wrong idea that mixing genuine raw milk with the powdered stuff can cause digestive problems.

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10 years 5 months ago #475638 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic The Milkbar is open

Short Plank;478757 wrote: Could someone help with advice on my initial, fundamental questions?

Presently we have 4 - 5 litres 'spare' from Rata daily we can give Chloe's calf, and I understand this is sufficient at his age now of 12 days. But:

1. How many weeks does a calf require bottle feeds?

2. Does the amount remain constant at that 4 - 5 litres or does the calf's requirement increase as it grows? If so at what rate?

3. If we get a sack of calf-milk powder to back-up Rata's supply - should there be a shortfall for any reason - is it best administered mixed with any raw milk available or in its own as a separate feed? I've a dim and distant and possibly wrong idea that mixing genuine raw milk with the powdered stuff can cause digestive problems.

We used to rear all our calves when we were milking cows. Each calf got 1/2 gal. (Imp) twice daily. That is plenty to rear a calf on especially since it will be whole milk. Ours was skimmed and they still did very well on that amount. (all cream extracted for dairy factory) When your calf is old enough to be eating grass, you can start to introduce meal, but I stress this isn't necessary. I wouldn't waste money on meal or calf replacement milk unless the cow goes dry. Better to freeze some of the extra milk if you have the room to do so.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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10 years 5 months ago #475640 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic The Milkbar is open
Thanks Stikkibeek.
OK, that's 4 litres/day in 2 x 2 litre feeds. Is there a 'scientific' reason for only two feeds or just convenience? He's on his own and I'd have no problem giving him 4 x 1 litre feeds during the day - perhaps a 1.5 litre one last thing to see him through the night?

In fact I'm happy to give the little fellow all of Rata's daily contribution not essential to household needs, so if we cut out yoghourt and cheese-making for a while that could be as much as 6 litres currently.

I'd still like to know:

1. Does this basic requirement go up as he grows?

2. How long will we need to maintain it - and give up our yoghourt and cheese for?

3. Is there anything in the 'don't mix raw and powdered milk' idea I have at the back of my mind? If nothing else it might be convenient if we could supplement Junior's milk ration with powdered milk over Christmas to free up Rata's for ourselves - and our neighbours who tend to come to us when they run out of shop milk.

3. When should he start eating grass? We've plenty and more of it at the moment.

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10 years 5 months ago #475643 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic The Milkbar is open
Milk requirement doesn't increase because the calf gradually develops its ruminant ability, so the milk remains a protein supplement while it matures to the point it can gain enough from forage alone.

Beef calves get 6-9 months on cows, dairy calves get less than half that time, but require protein-rich supplements for a while after the milk is stopped. If you have milk, you may as well be using that. I think if you feed only four litres a day, your calf will probably not be getting all it needs and will take longer to grow up than if you give him a really good start.

There shouldn't be any problem mixing the two milks, as long as you mix the powder with the correct quantity of water and introduce it gradually over a few days, rather than suddenly changing the feed.

Calves start eating grass as early as a couple of weeks. I watched my lot this year, sitting around chewing their cud at three weeks. How much cud it really was and whether they were really doing the whole rumination thing by then, I don't know.

My observation is that calves will often only feed a couple or three times a day and I suspect one of those feeds is often "social", i.e. for comfort. If you feed all the milk at once, the calf won't do as well, for the same reasons we eat meals split over the day.

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10 years 5 months ago #475647 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic The Milkbar is open
We fed our calves until they were vealers, but that was only because we were cream supply only and had the spare skim milk to give them. I have worked on dairy farms where the calves have been weaned from milk at 14 weeks. This is because the whole milk taken to feed them, is then required to go back into the vat. It doesn't harm the calves at all. Yes they grow slower, but that doesn't matter if they are destined to be milkers. It would only be if you plan to eat your calf that you might want to feed longer. Our experience of meal fed calves is that though they look better than milk plus grass only, they are not as robust, and if a pinch came on feed meal fed calves will be the first to falter. Weaned grass fed calves have already adapted to "tougher times" and cope much better. Twice a day feeding would have been a convenience based on milking times. I don't think slitting your calf's feed into 4 is likely to be very satisfying for him. 3 times a day might be a better option.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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10 years 5 months ago #475650 by Short Plank
Replied by Short Plank on topic The Milkbar is open
OK. So Stikkibeek says 2 x 2 litres/day is plenty to rear a calf on. Ruth says four litres a day is not enough. A bit of Googling and reading makes me think that the idea is to keep the calf hungry deliberately to make it start eating grass, and that makes a kind of sense.

Yet we're on no time-table or budget. Junior is here until the day the home-kill guy arrives in response to our call, to fit in with a few others in the area. If we have to buy meat from the supermarket in the interim we do, and I'd rather give Junior another fortnight of sunshine and grass than meet any hypothetical deadline. We're not paranoid about it. So I suppose the reverse of the question set is, does it cause any developmental problems for the calf if we give it whatever milk we have within a range of 2 - 4 litres?

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10 years 5 months ago #475654 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic The Milkbar is open
My observations are these:

Bought in calves do ok on 2 x 2 with free access to grass and water, a little less initially if jersey x's.

If they are penned up due to winter weather then free access to fibrestart or some sort of calf pellets is a must. they need to be introduced to these by a human mum to know they can eat them.

the calves I deliberately leave on mum and milk mum at the same time grow so much better, stronger, bulkier than my bought in calves. I agree that this is because they have access to milk on demand little and very often.

Freddie who we recently took off Daphne was drinking approx. 7 litres a day from mum and nibbling at grass. We would get between 2 - 5 litres from Daphne one milking a day. he really doesn't need mum's milk anymore, and it goes to feeding our bought in calves 2 x 2.

Freddie (being an angus x jersey) is such a strong, well covered lad who continues to do well on his own (despite his daily protests he wants mum's milk).

Personally if you have the milk and the time, give it to the calf in regular feeds. Perhaps morning, noon and night. 2 x 2 x 2 it will grow well and still nibble at grass. You might just need to show it how to obtain water from a trough if there is no mum or older sibling ''icon'' to copy from.

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