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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright, so I want a cow really bad. I want to hear some pros and cons, how I can find cheap ones, regular prices, everything! Can someone help me?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
:slapfloor: Oh Sarah! :lol: there are some cow people here, hopefully they'll jump in :D
:) when I set my mind to something, I go crazy! When I wanted goats, my parents were like "learn about them, then we'll talk." I read three goat books front to back, and spent every hour of every day on the computer looking up info and made a binder, sorted into "chapters!" :)

But yeah, I'm not denying I'm crazy! :p
 

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Then I would definately check the local dairies you have. Don't bother asking the 4-h people or farm stores when they sell them, they are going to charge you an arm and a leg for them.
For example, the feed/farm stores will buy the dairies bull drop calves, then sell them for $90 each. If you go to the dairy, you can get them for $5-20 each. Big diff huh?

A heifer calf will run about $250 and up, sometimes with papers, sometimes without. Really flashy show heifers will run you about $500-1500, but normally $500 if they are drop heifers.

(drop calf means, "just dropped" was just born, day old).

In the beginning they require about a gallon of milk a day, you can use fresh cows milk, you can use goats milk, you can use replacer, but I dont recommend using store bought milk, or using replacer for that matter. With replacer they dont thrive on it, and scour really easily, and with store bought milk from the grocery store, there is no fat in it, so they will survive on it, but they wont grow very well.

Around 2 weeks old I like to start them on grain, grass and alfalfa hay, I like a high protein calf starter that is around 18-22%

As they get older you can increase the milk you feed, but it isnt totally neccessary, they can still grow just as good on a gallon of milk a day, and good hay and grain.

If they are eating 4lbs of low protein calf starter a day (14-16%) for at least a week straight, you can wean them at 8 weeks, but you HAVE to keep them on grain.

If they are eating 2lbs of a higher protein grain (18-22%) for a week straight, then they can be weaned at 8 week.

I like to keep my calves on milk a lot longer though, I find it helps them grow better, and they'll live without a their grain for a day if you run out, if they are still on milk. They'll still get the nutrition, and wont act like they're starving all day.


Feeding a cow does cost a lot of money, way more than your goats. I can feed my whole herd of horses on the same amount of feed you would have to give a cow. My Hereford bull was eating a bale of alfalfa a day and still dropping weight in the winter, and the bales werent small either, they were 120-140lb bales.

You have to wait until the heifers are about 15 months old before you can breed them, that would leave them to calve at 2 years old.
A lactating dairy cow will eat about 100lbs of feed a day (that is including hay, grain, minerals, etc), they'll drink anywhere from 30-50 gallons of water a day, depending on how hot it is, how much they are milking, etc.

Halter breaking is a must! Better to be done when they are very young and still on milk.

And disbudding them is pretty important as well.


Ideally you want them to be 60% of their adult body weight when you breed them for their first calf
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks! I'll think about my choices and stuff!
 

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Well, my username says it all... :)
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Cows will eat a TON!! ESPECIALLY if you want one for milk and it's a calf. You'll have to raise it and feed it good feed for growth AND pay money for a sire or AI. Then you have to wait 9 months, feeding it the most wonderful forage or feed for pregnancy.

I think the reason you want to start with a calf is because.. THEY'RE CUTE! Isn't that the truth, I feel like it is, lol

And you absolutely have to make sure the people test for Johnes!! SO important. A lot of people hide it too, it lives on a lot of commercial dairies. So, always ask for testing papers. If you get a cow that has it, you bring it onto your property, and it lives there fro years and years killing goats, sheep, and cows. It's nasty, nasty, nasty.

I would start off with a pregnant cow. They are around 2,000 dollars tested and trained, but you'll end up paying more than that by raising one.
 

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I just got 3 cows...well a steer, a cow and a bull. These are for breeding and meat..Pinzgauer and Wagyu and I LOVE them!!! All so friendly. And BIG!
 

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Goat Girl
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Are you wanting a beef or dairy cow? Personally I would get a couple beef cows, they don't need to be milked, don't need to be halter trained and typically don't require any grain. Also, their bull and heifer calves are worth something (bull/steer calves being worth more than heifers as feeder animals). Around here a baby dairy bull calf will sell for $150 whereas a baby beef calf will go for $300 and up. Good cows are worth $1200 and up depending on if they are bred, have a calf, how far along they are, how old they are and if they are bred back or not. If you buy a grown up cow make sure you have her aged and preg checked. A lot of people will lie about the age of their cows so they can get more money for an older broken down cow. Cows are aged by their teeth similar to goats.

My cows don't eat near as much as my horses. For the same number of horses as cows, the horses will go through 1 bale a week and the cows will go through 1 bale in about 10-12 days (large round bales). The cows stay good and fat just on pasture and don't require any supplements besides minerals. I don't creep feed my calves, you can and they will grow a little better but mine grow just fine on good grass and their mom's milk.

If you want a dairy cow, make sure all four quarters work and that she has never had mastitis. You want the udder to be well attached and held above the hocks. One thing you can do with dairy cows if you don't want to milk one all the time is pick up orphaned calves (beef calves are better because they are worth more in the end) and teach them to nurse on the cow. People will have cows that they call "nurse cows" and the calves learn that she is "mommy" and will nurse on her as needed just like they would if they were on their original mom. The cow accepts them and lets them nurse, I have seen up to 4 calves on a cow.

I would look around your area and see which type sells best where you are. In my area beef cows sell much better than dairy and their is a strong market for feeder calves. You do get what you pay for (most of the time) and I would really make sure to have a cow completely checked out before buying her (by a vet) make sure she is the age they say she is, if registered make sure her tattoo's/microchip/whatever ID she has matches the papers and I would even have the vet ultrasound her to make sure she is breeding sound if she isn't already bred. Also look at her hooves, you don't want a cow with cracks in her hooves, overly long hooves, one that appears to have been foundered, etc.

Just remember, if you take care of the cow she will take care of you ;)
 

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Goat Girl
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Just so you know when looking around where I am at the term "short and solid" refers to cows whose teeth are short (worn) but still solidly in place. They are not missing any teeth, but are typically at least 8 years old. "Broken mouth" refers to cows who are missing teeth, have loose teeth and are aged. "0" or "Old" means a cow who has almost no teeth and is very old. Cows aged this way are older and not really what you want to start out with. I would start out with a cow who has calved at least once as heifers can have problems, even when bred to a low birth weight bull and it is better to have a cow who will most likely calve without problems your first year or so before getting into calving out heifers.
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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The biggest con for a dairy cow is Johne's. Regardless of who or where you get it from, there are a few diseases like Johne's that can transfer to goats as both are ruminant animals. So id do a little research and then when you do fine a place, ask if they test or if they mind that you test before you commit.
 

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what breed are you looking for? and how far are you willing to travel? World Dairy expo is at the end of the month in Madison wisconsin. check out the looking for reg. dairy calf thread. GMC will be at world dairy expo.
Ken-wan farm in luray VA. is selling out as one of the partners has died. they have wonderful holsteins, but they also have a fabulous ayrshire yearling heifer all their cattle are for sale.
 

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Alright, so I want a cow really bad. I want to hear some pros and cons, how I can find cheap ones, regular prices, everything! Can someone help me?
DAIRY CATTLE

Pros of buying an open cow:
-milk and byproducts
-additional income (whether calf or sold milk)
-test results (Johne's and DHIA/DHIR)
-check teat ends make sure they're tight and flat, no donut teat ends.
-cheaper than preg cow

Cons of cow:
-Scarring in the repro tract
-no history of cystic ovaries or not
-mastitis damage possible
-SOOO touchy to feed changes initially
-increased health issues
-need feet done regularly
-nutritional needs for a newbie are difficult to maintain proper body condition
-$1250-2000 common

Pros of Preg cow:
-you know she settled
-2 for 1 price (or 3)
-reg calf if cow is reg
-comes with AI info typically from sire
-time to prepare and settle her nutritional needs
-time to vaccinate accordingly
-time to adjust to the "new bugs" at home
-longer time to Learn lactating nutrition

Cons of preg cow:
-bull/heifer calf (??) unless US done
-no choice what you'll get for calf from sire (conformation, udder)
-cant see udder or teats properly-even mastitis or dead quarters shrink up nicely while dry
-$2000-2500 common

Pros of buying yearling (breeding age) heifer:
-easier to change diet
-smaller feed amounts
-usually mom will be on site still
-get a good idea of FF udder from rump structure
-pedigree info typically
-choice on who/what to breed her to
-best choice for implanting or sexed semen
-time to train

Cons of yearling heifer:
-feeding long time til financial return
-still awkward growth stages
-sometimes needs hormone to cycle
-feet react to feed changes and growth pattern. Make sure to buy a correct feet/legged heifer. Highly important.
-$800-1000 common

Pros of calf:
-long time to bond, set nutritional plans, train
-mother normally guaranteed on site
-vaccination plan
-easier to learn with than older animals

Cons of calf:
-milk feeding is a harder than people think, and replacer is highly expensive.
-dehorning still needed unless polled
-nearly 2 years to feed until financial return
-no proof of what baby drank initially. Sometimes never received colostrum or received Johne's positive.
-$50-500 common

BEEF CATTLE
If you so choose that you would do better with a dual purpose, this is your choice. Or possibly a Brown Swiss or Milking Shorthorn out of the dairy breeds.

It really narrows down to what YOU want. If you don't care, cross breeds are the way to go. Literally you'll make more long-term and be happier with an all-around animal.

I'd be pleased to help you with any further questions or assist you in whichever path you may so choose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
DAIRY CATTLE

Pros of buying an open cow:
-milk and byproducts
-additional income (whether calf or sold milk)
-test results (Johne's and DHIA/DHIR)
-check teat ends make sure they're tight and flat, no donut teat ends.
-cheaper than preg cow

Cons of cow:
-Scarring in the repro tract
-no history of cystic ovaries or not
-mastitis damage possible
-SOOO touchy to feed changes initially
-increased health issues
-need feet done regularly
-nutritional needs for a newbie are difficult to maintain proper body condition
-$1250-2000 common

Pros of Preg cow:
-you know she settled
-2 for 1 price (or 3)
-reg calf if cow is reg
-comes with AI info typically from sire
-time to prepare and settle her nutritional needs
-time to vaccinate accordingly
-time to adjust to the "new bugs" at home
-longer time to Learn lactating nutrition

Cons of preg cow:
-bull/heifer calf (??) unless US done
-no choice what you'll get for calf from sire (conformation, udder)
-cant see udder or teats properly-even mastitis or dead quarters shrink up nicely while dry
-$2000-2500 common

Pros of buying yearling (breeding age) heifer:
-easier to change diet
-smaller feed amounts
-usually mom will be on site still
-get a good idea of FF udder from rump structure
-pedigree info typically
-choice on who/what to breed her to
-best choice for implanting or sexed semen
-time to train

Cons of yearling heifer:
-feeding long time til financial return
-still awkward growth stages
-sometimes needs hormone to cycle
-feet react to feed changes and growth pattern. Make sure to buy a correct feet/legged heifer. Highly important.
-$800-1000 common

Pros of calf:
-long time to bond, set nutritional plans, train
-mother normally guaranteed on site
-vaccination plan
-easier to learn with than older animals

Cons of calf:
-milk feeding is a harder than people think, and replacer is highly expensive.
-dehorning still needed unless polled
-nearly 2 years to feed until financial return
-no proof of what baby drank initially. Sometimes never received colostrum or received Johne's positive.
-$50-500 common

BEEF CATTLE
If you so choose that you would do better with a dual purpose, this is your choice. Or possibly a Brown Swiss or Milking Shorthorn out of the dairy breeds.

It really narrows down to what YOU want. If you don't care, cross breeds are the way to go. Literally you'll make more long-term and be happier with an all-around animal.

I'd be pleased to help you with any further questions or assist you in whichever path you may so choose.
Wow, thanks so much!!!
 

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No problem. Dairy cattle are my specialty. :)
 

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If you are looking for milk, remember that as of 2010, 68% of dairy cows have Johnes and this can be transferred to your goats!
 

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...using replacer for that matter. With replacer they dont thrive on it, and scour really easily,
This statement is pure BS! I am a rancher's daughter and I've raised more bottle calves of different breeds than I can count - every one of them raised on milk replacer. Every one of them thrived , grew out beautifully, and didn't scour unless I screwed up and gave them too much, too soon. That was MY mistake, not the fault of the milk replacer. Stop propagating lies and myths! If you buy cheap, soy based milk replacer then your bottle calves aren't going to grow. If you buy good, milk/milk by-product based replacer that has at least 20% protein and 20% fat your bottle calves are going to grow just fine provided you feed them enough of it. They also need more than a gallon of milk a day. Even an average beef cow will produce 1 1/2 to 2 gallons of milk a day - I've milked enough of them over the years to know that for a fact. That is what her calf would be getting on the dam, why would you feed less than that to a bottle calf? I have always fed my bottle calves 2 gallons of milk replacer a day, along with a quality calf starter/grain and grass/alfalfa hay. You usually couldn't tell the difference between my bottle calves and the dam raised weaning calves.
 
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