brown swiss cow for sale? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I recently moved to Maine and I am looking for a brown swiss milking cow for my family. I have chosen this breed because they are so docile and would like to have a calm cow for my first. I have had a beef cow before and plenty of dairy goats. I don't much care about registering I just want a decent tempered animal. Ayreshires and Guernseys are my next choice. Does anyone out there have a cow or heifer for sale??? They seem to be a rare breed around here, I'm not looking for show quality just milk for my family of six. Thanks for any help. cara lewis

-- cara lewis (, August 22, 2000


Cara, I am considering a milk cow also. What are the pros and cons of the Brown Swiss, Ayreshire, Guernsey, and Jersey? We don't need a great deal of milk, I would like cream to make butter and cheese with, and have excess milk to feed to chickens and pigs, etc...

-- (, August 23, 2000.

You are going to pay a high price for any of the above mentioned breeds. They to are rare here in N.Y. I now Have a Jersey heifer calf that will someday be my milk cow .My service bull is an Angus "tastes good" and believe it or not he is well mannered !

Just a thought , do you have any dairys near by ? You can sometimes buy there culls at a good price .Some are simply sold because for the dairys need they no longer give enough milk .For your family it would be plenty .

You may even be able to work out a deal , maybe say $ o for the cow if you give them x number of calves back ? Good luck .

-- Patty Gamble (, August 23, 2000.

Cara- I'll admit I'm a bit prejudiced, but a Swiss might not be the best choice for a family cow for a few reasons. First is their size- they are HUGE. Meaning you are feeding a lot of bone and muscle, before you feed for milk production. Also, they are relatively calm, but can be very strong, and very strong willed. We have friends who breed some of the best in the world- export them to South America, show them all over the country- and they tend to get pushed around regularly even by their very well trained show animals. The other BIG drawback for a homestead animal is the odd trait that their calves have. They also can be extremely stubborn, so that if they suck from the cow even once after they are born, they very well may starve to death rather than take milk from a bottle. Don't ask me why!

Trigger to answer your question. First- I"m prejudiced because we have a small registered herd of Ayrshires plus half a dozen milking Jersey cows. We've owned every breed but Milking Shorthorn, though and have a working knowledge of their pros and cons.

Jerseys have the highest butterfat and protein content in their milk. They give less milk, but are getting to produce more all the time. They are much smaller than any of the other breeds, and ours are much more lightly "furred" even in the winter- the Ayrshires can look like teddy bears and the Jersey's look like we clipped them for show. Might make a difference if you don't have proper housing. Temperament wise, Jersey's are too darned smart for their own good. They'll open gates, turn water faucets on (They LOVE to play with water) and in general make life a bit more interesting than you'd like. However, if you mistreat one, beware- her memory of it will last longer than yours, and she WILL get revenge. They can also be immensely stubborn- you can coax them to do something, but NEVER force them. Ayrshires, which I love, have a terrible reputation for being nervous, high strung cows- and I've honestly never seen it. In 23 years of breeding them, I've had two "kickers" and both went for beef within weeks. We simply don't tolerate that behavior in any breed. They are intelligent animals, and I've always said they need to be treated a bit more like a horse than a cow- IOW, not pushed around but treated with respect. They test about 4% butterfat and 3.3% protein, and a good one can make a lot of milk. Guernsey's (although there are exceptions) are a lost cause, a dying breed. My FIL and his family had them for generations, and a weaker, more problem prone animal I've never seen. An old vet in the area had a saying "Guernseys and turkeys are born to die" and he wasn't kidding. They tend towards problems with their lungs, mastitis and feet and leg trouble. Disposition wise they are fine. This wasn't a management thing in this herd, either, because when my husband and I introduced Ayrshires, at one point the entire herd had a severe pneumonia outbreak. Of the 6 Ayrshires, only one even got sick. Of the 40 Guernsey's 7 DIED, two dozen more aborted their calves, and most of the rest dried up. Talk about discouraging! We're too far to help you, I'm afraid (we are in Western NY state), but we do often sell a "homestead" cow, and I'm tickled to do it. I define a homestead cow as a healthy, sound young cow who is a bit too small for our wants (we have top show stock as well as top milkers, and limit our numbers to what the farm will feed). These animals often have a wonderful disposition, milk well if not tremendously, and I absolutely hate selling them for beef. As long as I'm satisfied with their quality (even if it isn't show quality) I sell them with papers for about halfway inbetween beef price and registered price. It seems to make everyone happy. Linda

-- Linda Graves (, August 23, 2000.


I've only have two Brown Swiss as part of my beef herd. One was as sweet as sugar, other one earned the nickname of The Swiss Bitch. Probably was how they were treated before the got here. As Linda says, they are large cows without a particularly corresponding large milk supply. I've also bought Jerseys because they were cheap to breed to my beef bull. All fell out of the system within a couple of years. They really aren't meant to be raised just on pasture and hay, plus milk fever is a problem. It sounds like you and Linda need to get together. From Maine to Western NY isn't all that far and the climate isn't all that different. If you can find a good homestead milk cow, an eight-hour trip one way to pick it up doesn't seem much. Will likely need a vet certificate to take it across state lines. Have you given any thought to how you are going to breed it so you have a milk supply from year-to-year? It's either a bull or AI. For a single cow keeping a bull doesn't make sense. If he is good at one he does, he only works one day a year in this case. AI is very difficult on a small scale. Check around the area to see if there isn't someone milking a cow or two who has extra milk. Just buy it for livestock consumption only to skirt the laws. Would seem worth the price even if you have to pay a bit of a premium over store- bought.

-- Ken S. in TN (, August 23, 2000.

I have a Brown Swiss/Jersey mix. She was wild and snorty when she got here 6 months ago. We couldn't get within 10 feet of her without her bolting and flinching. But I saw something in her eye and knew it was just bad handling in her past. We were patient and didn't force her into anything. Now she is just as sweet and calm as you can get. I prefer her to the registered Jerseys I started out with and I really liked them.

-- Stephanie Masters (, August 23, 2000.

CoCo is my Jersy/Holstein cross. I got her free from a dairy farmer who thought she wouldn't amount to much. He bred his first timers to a jersy bull for ease of calving. I've had her since she was 4 days old and bottle raised her. Her first breeding to a small jersy bull produced a huge stillborn (had to pull him)bull calf, but she was producing 80# of milk a day. (bought a cow can't kick for milking worked well, but don't need it any more!) I sent her to a friend who bred her to a milking shorthorn. She had a heifer which he bought back from me when she was weaned. CoCo produced plenty of milk for her and me! This spring I sent her to a neighbor with a holstein bull and she is due in January. Couldn't ask for a nicer cow. I also get calls all the time from dairy farmers looking to sell 'poor' producers or ones with damaged quarters at slaughter prices. Just tell your local vet and feed store what you want, you'll be deluged with calls!

-- Dianne (, August 24, 2000.

You didn't say what part of Maine you're in, but there is Clarks livestock auction in Skowhegan every Tuesday and there's another one, Ben Tilton's near Dover Foxcroft on Thursdays. They usually run holsteins, but they often have other breeds. Also, there's the Uncle Henry's, and that might be your best bet. One other place you might look is at the agricultural fairs that are going on right now. My husband and I raise dairy and beef cattle, and while some breeds have good reputations for being docile, alot has to do with the way the animal was raised and has been handled. If you think the prices are too high right now, you may be able to do a little better right before Christmas, or if you wait until winter hits hard you might be able to pick up a homestead cow because people don't put up enough hay, or they get tired of the work in the cold. Good luck in your search.

-- Anne Tower (, August 25, 2000.

Has anybody tried keeping a milking cow on primarily pasture and hay, using an absolute minimum of supplements? If so, what breeds would you look at to be the best for this? I have been looking into Devons (the old-fashioned kind) and Dexters. We don't need a lot of milk, but would like to be able to get the cream more easily than from goats milk.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, August 25, 2000.

We have a jersey and she is great. I think the jersey is the best for milk. My husband had a dairy and that was what they used. We also raise beef cattle like brahman and on down . Out of all I like the jersey because they are gentle. We get them when they are calfs so as they get older they will trust you more.


-- melissa (, September 06, 2001.

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