We retired to dairying back in 1993....not a wise thing to do, but we did it nevertheless. We had some ups and downs, but in the end, I look back on it with pleasure and still miss milking.
We sold out in 2004. I joined Keeping a Family Milk Cow Forum and the more I read, the more I wanted one! Now I was not a virgin when it comes to owning a family cow. When we first moved to the country way back in 1976 and the children were young, I had several (one at a time). So I knew what I was getting into.
My plan was to just milk when I needed milk for my husband and me and let her calf have the rest. As events occurred, the plan was modified some.
I found my cow through the KAFC forum, very close to us. She is a registered Milking Shorthorn. When we went to see her, she had a large beautiful roan colored heifer calf (also pure milking shorthorn) on her. The calf was certainly big enough to wean. My husband fell in love at first sight and wanted her too. So, we ended up buying both. The cow was named Willow and her calf Annabelle.
The plan worked great...then one morning very soon after buying her we found an orphan Black Angus calf in with the beef herd. I sure didn't want to start bottle feeding, so introduced it to Willow. It took a few days, but finally Willow accepted it wholeheartedly and gave enough milk for all three of us.
Time passed... I weaned both calves, rebred Willow to one of the BA bulls. I turned her dry....she calved without any difficulty with a beautiful, solid red heifer calf I named Ginger (for obvious reasons). Then,within a week, we had another orphan BA calf! I thought it must be the same cow, but the calf was too early for that. It was a very aggressive and hungry calf.....same thing happened again. Introduced it; Willow butted it a lot; I tied her up; she still kicked and resisted......slowly she accepted it. At last I didn't need to tie her up, just let her into the calf pen and both calves attached themselves to her with very little objection. I do feed her some grain morning and evening. I want her production to stay up. The adoptee is a bull that we named Ferdinand (a great suggestion from another forum friend).
Ginger was born in late summer. She was solid red but as time went on she began changing color. First the area around her eyes got very black and she looked like a raccoon, then the top of her head, then her rump. Just this week, I saw what looked afar like steaks and spots of dirt on her side. Nope, it is black streaks. It will be interesting to see how she finally ends up. I hope more brindle develops. I love brindle cows.
As a newborn, she was a very solid, red, some brighter than her mother,
and now two plus months later, she is showing new color, taking more after her Black Angus daddy.
and her very black rump,
She has been a perfect cow for us. Not too much milk, but enough to raise two calves and keep us in milk. I do wish she had more butterfat, but Jerseys do come with their own set of issues.