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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

........ Milk
...In the dairy
...Dealing with milk

All milk animals require good feeding, regular worming and to be made pregnant regularly to keep the milk cycle going.

For the sheep this is easy. Most sheep-owners have a ram or at least access to one from a neighbour. Goats are slightly more complex. You may have to travel some distance to find the billy you want. Not many goat-owners keep billys. To start with many goat-owners only have one or two animals. Apart from that, a male goat really stinks. No doubt that will incense someone whose billy smells delightful. However, all the billys we or our friends have come across smell, at least for most of the year.

To get a cow in calf involves one of two happenings. Either you have or have access to a bull, or you contact the AI man. The AI man is someone from the Milk Marketing Board who will come and artificially inseminate your cow. This gives you a great choice of father. All the bulls are specially selected for performance. You can choose the breed you want, either the same as the cow or another breed, to produce a specific type of calf. If you intend to produce more milkers of your own, you will probably want to breed true to type. In that case your heifers will grow up and go into your herd. Often, as in the case of Channel Island calves, the males are not valuable as they do not grow to a heavy beef carcass. You must either sell them for a low price or fatten them yourself. We have fattened Jersey bull calves ourselves. They must be neutered at an early age as Channel Island bulls are very unpredictable and can be vicious. The meat is excellent and the fat a yellow colour. The market in general does not like the lightweight carcass but if you intend to consume it or sell it yourself, it is certainly worth trying. To produce heavier carcasses from a Channel Island dam, you can select a bull from a breed such as the Dorset. This produces a good beef carcass. From Friesians and other larger cows you can produce all sorts of beef animals. A pure Friesian bull calf grows very well although many farmers prefer to cross with a sire such as a Hereford. It is worth keeping very good records of the sires you select and the results of your progeny. All livestock enterprises can benefit from records. It is easy to see where animals grew slowly, which dams produced heavy milking heifers and so on.

All dairy enterprises necessarily produce youngstock. Whether you keep them or sell them depends on how you intend to run the enterprise. With limited space, it is probably worth selling all the youngstock and simply buying in replacements as needed. With plenty of space, the attraction in raising your own youngsters is obvious.