Author Topic: high butterfat% breeds?  (Read 5122 times)

Offline eric1

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high butterfat% breeds?
« on: March 28, 2011, 07:36:12 AM »
Hi everyone,
I was reading the thread about breeds for Costa Rica, and it looked like this might be a good place to ask my own questions.  I currently have 2 Jersey cows (plus a heifer), and I'm in the North Carolina Piedmont.  I love the Jerseys for their size, ease of management/gentleness, local availability, and especially the high ratio of yellow butter to each gallon of milk.  My biggest complaint is that early in lactation they give too much milk and I can't keep them in good enough condition without purchased feed supplements that compromise my organic/self-sufficiency goals.  I've thought that crossing with a beef breed might lower milk production and give me a lower maintenance cow that's easier to keep in good condition (with the added benefit of beefier male offspring), but while I'm very willing to accept less milk, I really don't want to forfeit butterfat percentage.  Does anyone have any recommendations for me?  I had read the Piedmontese were a high milk component beef breed, and the breed definitely interested me, but one source said the average butterfat was 3.64% which sounds more like a Holstein than a Jersey.  I saw an internet (craigslist) ad for a Watusi cow locally, and I read that they can give something like double the butterfat/gallon as a Jersey, but that's probably too far out on the exotic side of things and probably not available in AI semen anyways.  Should I just be looking for relatively low production/high butterfat percentage AI Jersey sires?  (The trouble is I'm sure no AI dairy sires are selected for suitability to low input farm systems like mine.)  What other options are there that are at least equal to Jerseys for butterfat percentage?  Would any of the more common "beef" breeds have comparable butterfat?
Thank you!
Eric


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Offline ArnaudForestier

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2011, 07:59:38 AM »
Eric, I can't offer much, except to say that I know there are times when Jerseys can give too much butterfat; one maker I know runs into problems, in fact, when too much of his batch milk proportion comes from his Jerseys or Jersey crosses, so he has to skim pretty heavily.  If you're looking for another high BF breed, I seem to recall Guernseys are another option.

I'm intrigued by Jerseys, and though I don't farm (yet?), love what I've looked into, for many reasons.  Can I ask, however, why the specific emphasis on butterfat, and not casein levels (and fractions)?  Is this driven by your preferred cheese varieties?
« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 08:07:45 AM by ArnaudForestier »
- Paul

Offline MrsKK

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2011, 06:38:32 PM »
Hi, Eric and welcome to CF.  I think you might be pleased if you crossed your Jerseys to one of the smaller beefy breeds, such as Dexter.  A beef cross cow would hold her body condition better and I've read that beef cows actually have a higher butterfat content per gallon than do the dairy breeds.  Generally, the less milk the mammal gives, the higher the BF.

You might want to check out the Keeping a Family Cow forum, as there are members there with beef crosses that are quite happy with them.  They tend to give a bit less milk, in general, but there can also be issues with shorter lactations, as they've been bred to raise a calf for 8-10 months, rather than be milked for 10 months or longer.

I rather doubt that you will find a low production AI sire in Jersey, as dairies are looking for higher production and would cull out a bull that threw low producing daughters.  Having a Jersey/Holstein cross who is currently milking off her back, I know what you mean about their appetites.  Realize that modern dairy breeds have been customized to produce well on high carb supplementation and are not meant to be grass-based. 

Offline eric1

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2011, 07:03:02 AM »
Can I ask, however, why the specific emphasis on butterfat, and not casein levels (and fractions)?  Is this driven by your preferred cheese varieties?

The answer is simply that in order to have as much butter (and ice cream, etc.) as I'd like to have that (even with a very high butterfat Jersey) we already have an overabundance of skim milk to use for drinking, making yogurt and cheese, etc.  So it's more about butter than cheese.

Offline eric1

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2011, 07:15:08 AM »
Thanks, Mrskk, for your advice.  Shorter lactations would be another concern for me.  With AI, it's hard for me to get my cows bred regularly.  Sometimes the friend that does the AI for me can't come at the ideal time -- it's always the last minute -- and sometimes it's hard to tell when the ideal time is... sometimes I miss a heat completely.  I've also bought good cows for beef prices specifically for the reason that they haven't bred easily or readily.  So I'd certainly like to be able to milk a cow for 15 months.  The cow we're milking for our own milk supply now actually freshened last in December of 2008, so that's about 27 months, and she's giving about 2-1/2 gallons per day now -- a good amount for us -- with nothing but pasture.  She was giving 5+ gallons per day at freshening, though, and that really ran her down, even with supplemental grain.

Are there numbers on the butterfat content of different beef breeds?  Dexters?  I was a little discouraged by the number I found for the Piedmontese.


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Offline MrsKK

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2011, 05:34:40 PM »
You really should ask your questions on the KFC forum, as there are more knowledgeable people there regarding what you want to find out.

Offline twistedcreek

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2011, 06:14:04 PM »
I milk my Highland cows. (I also have Jerseys) Highland milk has a high butterfat content. Oftentimes a lot of cream separates out before the milk is done cooling in the sink. It tastes good too!

Offline Dano

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2011, 03:47:17 PM »
Hi all, I know that this thread has some age too it but just in case you were bumming around like me thought i would chime in.
If you like your Jers. girls new zealand has some good sires that i believe Taurus sells in the US. They are under their own site LIC, they are grass based and high components. they have some nice looking bulls adapted to once a day milking which appeals to us lazy farmers and helps the early dry off that beef crosses can have.  Also check out Normande bulls. they are primarily in France but availabel all over, Much thicker than jersey but not big and tall like a swiss or holst.  they are the "cheese breed" with a very good protien to fat ratio for making cheese, kappa casien (spelling ) is usally for the best.
Nice steers and very good on no grain.

Offline CdnMorganGal

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2012, 01:44:24 AM »
Its easier to keep the weight on my Guernsey than my Jersey, and the Guernsey give me a lot more cream.  But keep in mind I only have 1 Guernsey and 1 Jersey, so the differences could be individual related rather than breed related.

Offline pfarms

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2013, 12:58:46 PM »
If anyone in the future is looking at this, for a highbutter fat, less milk, and easier keeping animal.  Cross your Jersey you have with a Highland bull.  I have done this and yes, I get less milk, but a highland has a higher butter fat then a Jersey and it is more like goats milk in that it is slightly naturally homogenized and does not separate as fast.  I have pure highlands, jerseys, and crosses here. 

As for keeping body weight on in early lactation with a jersey.  We ran into that as well.  We started timing our calving differently and it has helped more then giving different feed.  We time it for prime spring grass.  They no longer loose body condition as badly.  Here, our pastures are prime in mid June and last til Mid August.  We calve starting in mid June to mid July here.  And we put them on fresh pasture, free choice minerals, and still our own grain ration that we grow.  We generally put them in the fresh pasture about three weeks before calving.  We found the same works for our goats. 

Also in general, protein will equal milk.  Calories will equal body condition.  So, if milk production is good, body bad, try to up calories. 


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Offline Juan Fries Widdat

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2013, 11:13:31 AM »
I have Milking Devons, lower production, with high butterfat and high solids, very well adapted to grass-based or all grass. Jersey/Devon cross makes an excellent milk cow.
They say my motto should be pro cras tenere.
I'm gonna look it up tomorrow.

Offline ArnaudForestier

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Re: high butterfat% breeds?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2014, 05:11:54 PM »
...it is more like goats milk in that it is slightly naturally homogenized and does not separate as fast...

Old post, but this is my experience with the Ayrshire breed.  Wonderful milk for making cheeses, in my experience (limited to alpine styles).
- Paul