Friday, December 9, 2016

The cost to feed dairy Livestock: Are you prepared?

The cost to feed a Dairy Animals: Are you prepared
The average new farmer has no idea what they are in for when they bring home some dairy goats or, even worse, a dairy cow.
Listen, folks. . .they aren't cheap to maintain. Period.
The amount of water, hay and (usually) grain they consume will blow your mind.
Sadly, people decide what they are willing to feed and do that accordingly, and the animals suffer for lack of education and funding on the owner's part. A lot.
Cows and goats need free choice forage. Black, molded hay kept outside for 2 years ISN'T suitable. Some cracked corn in lieu of grain isn't suitable. Did I mention they all need a loose mineral out free choice that runs $20 to $40 a bag?
Usually, they need access to grain. A lot more than you think they need, with a few exceptions (click the blog, and you see the fawn cow on the left needed 15-20lbs of grain a day to hold even the condition you see there because she gave 6-7 gallons of milk a day; the dark brown cow eats tremendous amount of forage, but she gets no grain).
Know your animals' needs. You can't decide how much you are going to feed them. You have to feed what they need.
Dairy Livestock aren't wildlife. Did you know they do not exist in the wild? They aren't land-race breeds able to thrive without man's husbandry all of the time in play, either.
Nothing like a production dairy goat or cow lives in nature.
The investment in a dairy animal goes on for the life of the animal. I so often see livestock that are simply too thin (even for dairy animals), and the supposed farmers appear to have no idea why. Then we talk, and it is plain to me that they aren't feeding enough because it is "expensive."
Yes, it is.
We feed 3,500lbs of hay a week here on the farm to 2 horses, 2 ponies, 2 cows, 1 calf and the goat herd.
We feed an additional 300lbs of grain weekly, including what we use for the poultry.
It isn't cheap. But the costs reflect a sufficient feeding program. If you aren't able to afford to feed your livestock properly, scale down what you're keeping until you're able to afford the right care.

As a side note: 

MOST dairy cows will need grain unless they are lower production cows with a history of grass fed selectively bred genetics. Virtually all dairy goats MUST have grain. One of the most harmful bits of advice you can receive is you can usually get away without using grain for dairy animals, just feed lots of grass. It is like saying an athelete can do endurance running with a typical American diet. A body builder can compete with a regular diet. No. These animals are hard working, performance creatures. Most will milk their life away without enough calories, and grass simply will not give it to a lot of them.

If it means a lot to you to have milk and not use grain, you need to find a farmer selling cows with a history of not using grain and animals maintaining condition. Grassfed cows are out there, but they aren't typically what you find offered for sale.



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LUCAS FARM

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens

- Proverbs 27:23-27




"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."

- George Washington