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The Bella Farm Dairy Herd- Pictures

 
Adam Klaus
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Hi everyone,
I just was going through my photos, putting together a slideshow of the dairy cows, and thought I would share a few.

As a little background, I started my small herd in 2007 with two cows, Brown Swiss. A year later I added another cow and a young bull. Since then I have been breeding seasonally each year, selling my less desirable cows, harvesting bull beef, and developing my herd. I now have 4 milk cows (2 of the original ones), a mature bull (my third), and two young heiffers who will become milk cows in the coming years. I have sold enough animals to pay back the cost of establishing the herd, and have been running a raw milk share program since 2008, earning a decent slice of my farm income along the way. Dairy cows were not in my original plans when I bought the farm, but they have turned out to be the greatest blessing for our small family farm. I encourage everyone to consider dairy cows as a fundamental component of their permaculture plans.

Enjoy-
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Bootsie, one of the originals
 
Adam Klaus
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more pics-
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Bootsie's calf Pinto, now bred to calf next spring
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The original bull Arthur, with Vivian, mother to our milk cow Lacey
 
Adam Klaus
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more pics-
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The girls coming in from the pasture for milking
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This year's best heiffer calf, Rose. Momma Lacey grazing in the background
 
Johnny Niamert
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I like pics!
 
Dale Hodgins
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Swiss are very attractive cattle. The udders hold up well compared to Holsteins which are prone to many problems.

Will the coat get much thicker ? A guy here has cattle that he calls Swiss. They have a rougher look than yours. They may be a cross.
 
Amedean Messan
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Hi Adam, love your post and those wonderful pictures. Can you highlight some of your surprising lessons regarding your herd since it was originally unplanned in your permaculture vision?
 
Adam Klaus
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Dale Hodgins wrote:
Will the coat get much thicker ? A guy here has cattle that he calls Swiss. They have a rougher look than yours. They may be a cross.


Dale, my understanding is that slick and shiny coats are an indication of good health and nutrition. I was taught that rough coats indicate inadequate nutrition or parasites. So for my cows, they always are slick and shiny, even in winter when their coat grows thicker.
 
Adam Klaus
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Amedean Messan wrote:Can you highlight some of your surprising lessons regarding your herd since it was originally unplanned in your permaculture vision?


Quite a few pleasant suprises. Broadly speaking, the cow herd benefits every aspect of our farm and family.

-The amount of nutrition the milk provides our family, especially the butter and yogurt. We consume well over a hundred dollars worth weekly.
-The bull beef which is a nearly free byproduct of the dairy herd, excellent quality beef, that provides all our beef needs annually.
-The income we can generate through nothing more than growing pasture and allowing the cows to graze.
-The benefit to the chickens of the skim milk and cow compost.
-The fertility we generate through composting the winter cow manure which then goes on our garden, greenhouse, and orchard.
-The simplicity of the labor of caring for a dairy cow herd. With once a day milking and natural herd management, it is much less work than I would have thought.
-The joy of dealing with such sacred beings each day. Hindu thinking on the sacred cow is spot on, in my experience.
 
Jeremey Weeks
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Adam, if I'm counting right, you have 7 head. How many acres do they use? I'm guessing at least an acre per. Does that sound right?
 
Adam Klaus
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Jeremey Weeks wrote:Adam, if I'm counting right, you have 7 head. How many acres do they use? I'm guessing at least an acre per. Does that sound right?


Hi Jeremey,
The herd size fluctuates. Generally, I have 4 milk cows, 1 breeding bull, 2 heifers, and 4 calves at any given time, which works out to 7-8 Animal Units. They use about 8 acres of pasture, so yes, you are spot on. In the past I have had more animals, but it means that I deplete my pastures earlier in the fall, and it costs me a fortune in hay. I like my balance of animal numbers to pasture size now. The key is excellent pasture quality and management.
 
David Miller
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Might be the wrong forum but I'd love to hear about your pasture management and once daily milking. I'm reading up on these but its always best to hear it from someone practicing it, currently!
 
Matu Collins
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They are lovely, Adam. I have had the same sacred cow thought.

My neighbor's Scottish Highland cattle have a long shaggy coat, I wonder how rough/smooth would look on them. They look so gorgeous to me right now with the winter coats. In summer they lose a lot of it and look less dazzlingly beautiful but still quite nice.

Do you have anyone experienced enough to do the milking for you if you go away?

I hope you continue to post photos and experiences, this is valuable. I don't have enough land for cattle just now but I could easily lease enough of the surrounding property at reasonable rates.
 
Adam Klaus
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David Miller wrote:Might be the wrong forum but I'd love to hear about your pasture management and once daily milking. I'm reading up on these but its always best to hear it from someone practicing it, currently!


Hi David, I wrote a bit about once a day milking in this thread- http://www.permies.com/t/28215/cattle/Doin-Dairy-Cows

Pasture management is a big topic, if you have any specific questions I could try to give you some good answers. My favorite books on the topic are Management Intensive Grazing by Jim Gerish and Quality Pasture by Allan Nation.

Curious what books you are reading to learn about these topics yourself? I cant read enough myself.
 
Adam Klaus
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Matu Collins wrote:They are lovely, Adam. I have had the same sacred cow thought.

My neighbor's Scottish Highland cattle have a long shaggy coat, I wonder how rough/smooth would look on them. They look so gorgeous to me right now with the winter coats. In summer they lose a lot of it and look less dazzlingly beautiful but still quite nice.

Do you have anyone experienced enough to do the milking for you if you go away?

I hope you continue to post photos and experiences, this is valuable. I don't have enough land for cattle just now but I could easily lease enough of the surrounding property at reasonable rates.


Thanks Matu, they certainly are lovely. Yes, rough/smooth is definitely relative to breed. Sleek and shiny are the key words I think of when describing a well-mineralized, healthy bovine.

Going away is tough. My best milkers are my calves. So long as it is past the peak of lactation, and particularly if the cows are already bred, I can put my already weaned calves back out with the mommas for a week with no problems. I have not yet found a human with the skills for me to trust them with a herd of milk cows, the milking machine, etc, etc. Still looking everyone.....hint, hint.

Milk cows are the best! If you have any inclination and possibility, I highly reccomend taking the opportunity to work with these magnificent and sacred beings.
 
John Mercer
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Adam Klaus wrote:
David Miller wrote:Might be the wrong forum but I'd love to hear about your pasture management and once daily milking. I'm reading up on these but its always best to hear it from someone practicing it, currently!


Hi David, I wrote a bit about once a day milking in this thread- http://www.permies.com/t/28215/cattle/Doin-Dairy-Cows

Pasture management is a big topic, if you have any specific questions I could try to give you some good answers. My favorite books on the topic are Management Intensive Grazing by Jim Gerish and Quality Pasture by Allan Nation.

Curious what books you are reading to learn about these topics yourself? I cant read enough myself.


I really like Greener Pastures On Your Side of the Fence by Bill Murphy. It's like an encyclopedia of grass and grazing.
 
Dale Hodgins
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