Is there any future in suckler cows ?

Blaithin

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Alberta, Canada
Calve for 1 month? 200 cows would be 7 per day, busy days could be 20 cows calving.

30 or 40 temp pens to cover busy days.

What dairy (that is already selling you replacements) will be able to supply all those calves, particularly in June?

I don't fancy wondering what do with 200 cows with 400 x 3 to 4 month old calves in a wet October.
Why do you need 200? If you’ve got twinning genetics and good milkers you can have anywhere from a quarter to a half that and still have the same amount of calves.

That’s the beauty of multiple calves per cow. You don’t need the herd size to pull off the same calf crop. I could conceivably have 25 cows and wean off a crop of 100 calves.

I mean... if you want to fart around with 200 go for it. Shouldn’t be necessary though.
 

egbert

Member
One day I’ll be a real farmer... Don’t you have a good pony or 2 though?
haven't used an oss to gather for some time.
Lamed the last one first day out, in rocky ground...it never worked again.

I have got 25 odd pedigree mares, which are highly lucrative if you have them in the right place, but a bit wee to carry my 12 stone.

Shanks pony fer me.
 
I bet his hens lay double Yokers three times a day for ten years as well, don’t mind me I’m just jealous honestly if that’s true I am lol
his boss was an anal banker, everything had to be accounted for, all imputs, all outputs.
he learn't of a very keen spring grazer,
all cows were dairy x, aa from above,
don't assume all cows are holstiens, the grazing type cows are very different, 8 week block calving, hfrs calve at 2 years, they have to, very aggressive grazers, by using x from these cows, you keep milk up.
 

Weasel

Member
Location
in the hills
the 350 aax guy, is well costed, proved to be correct
the best grazing dairy farmers are getting 5000 liters from forage,
wind comes out the rear end
pish from another orifice
if some farmers can do it, why can't you ?
don't denounce it, just because you think it cant be done !

For a start I'm not a dairy farmer. I'm a hill farmer
 
Why do you need 200? If you’ve got twinning genetics and good milkers you can have anywhere from a quarter to a half that and still have the same amount of calves.

That’s the beauty of multiple calves per cow. You don’t need the herd size to pull off the same calf crop. I could conceivably have 25 cows and wean off a crop of 100 calves.

I mean... if you want to fart around with 200 go for it. Shouldn’t be necessary though.
What system do you propose and with what kind of cow?
 

milkloss

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
East Sussex
Old freisan cows, in calf to beef bull, then put a couple more on them, buy them around 4 weeks so they can go hungry without problems, shut the calves up at night separately and then let them out in the morning.
knew a bloke that used to put a bunch of cows up a race and then let the calves out to milk them. It never lasted as the old milkers just couldn't handle it tbh, mastitis etc etc and don't forget they still need plenty of grub to survive the onslaught.
 

Blaithin

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Alberta, Canada
What system do you propose and with what kind of cow?
You're very stuck on titles/names of systems aren't you.

Whatever type of system suits the farmers ideals, goals and location. It can be as flexible as the farmer chooses. It could be done 100% confinement with all AI or it could be done 100% grass and live cover. Grass, TMR, grain.... Purebreds, crossbreeds, full dairy, part dairy....

While I don't have 25 animals because I don't have the land, I manage multiple calves adequately on less than prime grazing and winter forage. If I had the access I'd be rotating them quicker for better grass and wintering them on better stockpiled forages instead of just relying on hay. That would ideally help me cut down on the grain use I periodically require as well.

I've had the gauntlet of types of cows from an old cull 9 yr old Holstein, to a 4 yr old Fleckvieh, both from dairies, to a Jersey x Highland and a Milking Shorthorn. All successfully raised at least 3 calves per lactation with only the Jersey x Highland being unworthy of a second attempt purely because she's a sow who would rather wean her own calf than take others. The first year with each cow is always a learning curve as I learn what they're capable of and they adjust from what they're used to to what I do. I don't not give them grain however they aren't grained like in the dairy - in the case of the cattle from the dairy for sure.

Because of my less than adequate forage I have run into issues where if I push them too hard they have delayed breed back. I don't fuss too much over that, I just know when they're bred back for before I dry them off. The first year I had the Fleck she weaned me 2400 lbs of calf and did fine, however it delayed her breed back from the December calving she was originally set to have, to a May calving. It wasn't an issue, I just put another calf on her for the last part of that lactation. Which means she raised me 5 calves in 15 months. None of them hers. I don't mind a delay in that kind of situation.

When one is dealing with half and quarter dairy you do run the risk of raising a replacement that doesn't produce what's required. I have a quarter Jersey that, while a great producer for a single, couldn't easily manage two. Her mother is a ridiculous producer (but also the sow cow), but she just didn't get that kind of production. It's a lottery but she still makes a great replacement for the average herd.

I don't stress over the potential for a scattered calving block. It can be a struggle to find calves if I all of a sudden need 8 at once and it can hurt my pocket book. So if they're spread out and one isn't extremely close to the others, again, it's not a big bother. I also take the approach similar to if I was running a spring calving herd and a fall calving herd. The market is fairly consistent no matter the time of year for 5-6 weight calves. If I have spring born calves ready to go when they're that weight they're in time for fall run for the feedlots. If I have later born calves when they're reaching that weight it's approaching spring and many operations are looking for that size of calves for background systems on pasture.

My calves also tend to be fairly quiet because they are worked with for the first few weeks. Even if they end up being hands off the rest of the year. I prefer not to send them to the auction so I market them privately for people wanting to raise their own beef. They appreciate the more quiet calves instead of the range calves.

One day, when I have more consistent forage, I would like to pull the calves at 4-5 months instead of 6-7 months and get the cows to raise a second batch. This could almost double my calf crop.

Flexibility in multi suckled herds is a key component I believe. You need to be flexible in labour, in feed, in calving block, and in breed back time especially, but otherwise it can be a perfectly functioning system. It is suited for smaller herds than larger IMO.

If you go in thinking you need to make it work with your 200 head herd that all calve within 6 weeks, breed back within 60 days and never dip below a 3 BCS while getting very little supplementation then yeah, what I talk about is going to seem like a complete gong show to you.
 

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