It might be worthwhile to consider raising cattle as a way to add to your homesteading horizons. By doing so, you and your family will be able to purchase quality homegrown meat and dairy products. Having cows can be equally viewed as a means of generating additional income, especially if you are interested in selling meat and dairy products to the market. You should consider what breed of cattle you should choose before buying your first calf.
It is important to also consider climate and location. Cows get too hot and too cold like all animals. They can get overheated if their coats are darker, which can lead to fatigue, reduced production, and even heat stroke. In hot climates, a cow with a red or mottled hide is more comfortable in the summer and more suitable than a black cow.
More than two-thirds of the feed consumed in confined production units are used by the lactating cows, making feed the largest of the running costs of intensive farming. Even though the feed is an expenditure, it is possible for a farmer to influence costs by using different types of feed and quantities and by adjusting the amount of feed and the amount of nutrients for the animals. Feeding level, nutrient composition, ration, and energy concentration are known to affect production efficiency as well as the efficacy of the waste products from the herd and greenhouse gas emissions from the farm (Aguerre et al., 2011).
In that sense, feed management is of wide importance. Thus, Jonker et al. (2002) found increased milk yields and nitrogen efficiency in farms that determined roughage DM content regularly over time as compared to farms notified less frequently. Nordic feed evaluation (NorFor) as a net-energy system also balances the protein supply in accordance with levels of rumen protein absorption and rumen protein supply (Volden, 2011).
The output from NorFor is the expected intake of individual feeds or your total body mass (XGM) for each animal, as well as our expected milk production in kilograms of ECM and live weight change per day, according to the stage of lactation. DLBR (2014) mentions that NorFor has been integrated with new dairy management systems developed in Danish in recent years and adopted by dairy farm advisors.
It includes several tools with specific uses: NorFor-Plan for economic optimization of feed ration and individual intake and NorFor-Control for evaluating the actual feeding and production, including the effectiveness of production, energy, and nutrients, as well as two cattle breeds: Holstein and Jersey.
New Jersey cows are a relatively small, productive breed, with a brown coat that ranges in color from deep chocolate to gold marshmallow. Jersey cows are one of the most ancient breeds of cows in North America. They produce exceptionally nutritious milk, which has 18 percent more protein than Holsteins and 25 percent more fat than the industry standard. Jerseys in their prime will milk roughly five gallons a day. They are generally good mothers who are usually sweet and well-behaved.
The Jersey breed is the second-most-common dairy breed in Denmark, making up 13% of milk stock. Conversely, the Holstein-Freshman breed makes up 70% of all milk stock in Denmark. Kristensen and Kjrgaard (2004), using the Scandinavian Feed Unit (SFU) system, found Jersey herds to be more energy efficient (energy requirements/energy intake) than Holstein herds, based on annual data from commercial dairy herds. Net energy intake from DMI will result in an increased efficiency in herds managed organically as opposed to conventionally.
In addition to improved nitrogen efficiency, Jerseys tend to have higher energy efficiency than Holsteins do. However, the underlying explanations for this difference in N efficiency (Nielsen and Kristensen, 2001) come from annual milk yield per cow and energy efficiency, rather than breed.
A previous study has indicated that Jersey cows have a greater intake capacity compared to Holstein-Friesians (Oldenbroek, 1988), and a newer study involving primiparous cows came online confirming that. In fact, this could be one of the reasons why Prendiville et al. (2009) found that Jerseys had higher gross energy efficiency (milk solids/DMI) than Holsteins, despite having a lower milk solids production. There has been an upward trend in milk production across all systems and breeds, with 8,400 kg of ECM in 2004. (Kristensen and Kjrgaard, 2004.) The former results were based on data from an entire dairy herd over 1 yr and the use of the SFU system.
The approach to breed effect in the NorFor system, as opposed to the standard feeding system, differs from the standard feeding system. If the information on only lactating cows had been included, the results could have changed due to the effects of DIM and parity on energy balance (Olson et al., 2010). In a recent survey, it was found that maize silage was more predominant in West Jersey farms than in other breeds, such as Holstein farms. There were higher energy concentrations in maize silage and the energy concentration was greater in Jersey farms. At very low-cost feeding, Jersey showed higher efficiency than Holstein and other cattle breeds in many cases.
Guernsey cows are brown and white spotted cows, about the same size as Jersey cows, and they are named after the island in the English Channel from which they were bred. As a result of their pale coat, they are tolerant of high temperatures and well suited for hotter climates. Their calves are known to be strong and have few complications during calving. Guernseys produce about 4.5 gallons of milk per day, where the milk product has a high Vitamin A content.
The black-and-white cow, known as the Dalmatian or ‘dane-cow’, is a familiar type of cow to children everywhere from pictures and cartoons. The cattle are a French breed that has been used in the dairy industry for years and is one of the most productive breeds for sheer milk production. 90% of cattle in the United States are Holstein cows due to their astonishing milk production of almost 9 gallons a day. Although Holstein cows are generally gentle and agreeable to work with, Holstein bulls tend to be quite aggressive.