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What to Do with Dumplin

Aug
28

Currently, I have Glory Bee and Dumplin in my field across the road from the house.
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All I have to do is call Glory Bee’s name and she will (seriously) leap out of the creek, up the high banks, and head for the gate.
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The cows love to hang in the creekbed, and in this field, the banks of the creek are about four feet high in most spots. BP always had a hard time in this field because there are only a few places along the creek where there is a sloped path out of the creek that she could manage. (BP is still here–she’s in the upper pasture with the horses, where the creek is easier for her to handle, no high banks.) Glory Bee is young, going on three years now, and has no trouble jumping out of the creekbed. Of course, Dumplin comes with her.
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Does Glory Bee look pregnant? Can anybody tell by looking? (I’m just kidding. I think.) Is that not a gorgeous dairy cow? I’m in love with this cow.
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I think Dumplin may suspect I’m pondering her fate. To be honest, we’ve never gotten real close.

There’s a difference between dairy cows and beef cows. Maybe I’m just prejudiced, but dairy cows are smarter, more people-oriented, and more easily trainable. Is that nature or nurture? I’m not sure, as I’ve never had any intention of milking Dumplin and haven’t treated her the same way I treated Glory Bee when she was a calf. We just don’t have the same relationship.

Dumplin’s a really good-lookin’ beef cow (not a speck of Glory Bee in her), but I also have no intention of butchering her.
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I have, however, contemplated selling her. She’s cute and everything, but a cow is not a pet. A cow is far too big to be a pet, or to keep on a farm in a pasture ornament fashion. I’ve contemplated keeping Dumplin as a second cow, to produce calves to sell, especially since she’s quite beefy and bred with a beef bull, would likely produce a quite fine beef calf. (Obviously, Glory Bee herself, despite being dairy all the way, can also produce a quite fine beef calf when bred to a beef bull, Dumplin being case in point.)

The question is coming to a head now as I plan my hay for the winter. Dumplin is already worth a good bit of money. The average price for a beef cow around here is a dollar a pound. She’s a good age to sell for someone to raise up, either to butcher or to use her as a breeder. (She’s not weaned since I keep her with Glory Bee, but she’s 8 months old and certainly has no need of the cream she so enjoys.) Or, I keep her, buy hay for her this winter, and try to get her bred next year. Eventually, she can make me money in calves to make up for what she’ll cost me in hay this winter–but do I want to go into the business of beef calves? The only reason I actually breed Glory Bee, of course, is so I can keep milking her. Producing calves from Dumplin would be expressly to sell them. The decision about Dumplin impacts other decisions, too–expanding or reducing goats and sheep. I’m just one person, and my “farm hand” will be going to college next year.
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I need to make a decision about a direction, and Dumplin’s right in the middle of it. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do, but this fall? I’m sure I’m going to have to make a decision.

It’s time for my little farm to grow up.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on August 28, 2013  

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  1. 8-28
    6:40
    am

    This is the hard part of having a little farm..Keep in mind you will have a few little dumplings.If it where me I would sell her..They are all going to be cute..

  2. 8-28
    6:47
    am

    Ha! Did you ever think you would be saying “All I have to do is call Glory Bee’s name and she will (seriously) leap out of the creek, up the high banks, and head for the gate” 3 years ago when she was running up and down the bank going in every direction but where you wanted? GREAT JOB :cowsleep:

  3. 8-28
    6:59
    am

    Personally, I think I would keep her for at least another year. The cost of feed this winter may be made up for if she has a calf and you sell it. If not, you could always sell/butcher her or her calf later and have a nice supply of beef for the year.

    What is it that mothers always say? Something like, “You have to try it to know if you will like it.”

  4. 8-28
    8:45
    am

    Aww, isn’t she so cute!? I have absolutely NO opinion on sell/don’t sell. But I love the optical illusion in the last photo, where Dumplin peeks around that fence post, and you can barely see the rest of her body!

  5. 8-28
    9:10
    am

    You may or may not have thought of this. If you sell Dumplin’, when BP goes to the big pasture in the sky, Glory Bee will be the only cow on the farm. Some cows are just fine with that. Others, not so much. You may wind up spending a lot of time retrieving her from the neighbors. Take a wild guess how I know this? :)

  6. 8-28
    9:13
    am

    I would sell her. You never know when extra cash will come in handy.

  7. 8-28
    9:25
    am

    Yes there is a personality difference between dairy and beef cattle. Dairy cows were purposely bred to interact well with humans. I would keep her if it doesn’t put you in a financial bind. Cows are herd animals and like having a herdmate to be social with. With BP being in her golden year, Dumplin would be a good companion for Glory Bee.
    Glory Bee is looking more like a hefty Jersey as she ages. I can see the Brown Swiss in her if I really look. Usually the dairy and beef cross makes for a really nice mamma cow. If you get more time by reducing other stock, you could probably get Dumplin friendlier. Judging by the pictures she isn’t too stand offish. Plus her momma really likes you. Another plus is you can use the same bull for both of them as Dumplin isn’t related to the neighbor’s herd.

  8. 8-28
    9:42
    am

    I am sure lucky to have some wood left from the winter. I know all kind of spiders and small critters have probably opened up a bed & breakfast even. I see the wood everyday and I ponder if Happy Cappy or Elfie (outside cats) has peed on the wood. I have lots of space and I picked that space for the wood. Its my OuterSpace and I’m Thankful to have wood left in the first place. I will just leave well enough alone because Its not taking up space, rather it’s in its place. :moo:

  9. 8-28
    10:11
    am

    I say, “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush,” you don’t know if you want to be a beef cattle queen or not. Why not keep her to have the option to breed her.

  10. 8-28
    11:52
    am

    The earlier comments have some very valid points – Glory Bee may need the company of another cow, and since Dumplin is not related to the neighbor’s bull, he could easily service both cows next time, whereas if you decide to keep a future calf to breed, you would need to find a bull other than the neighbor’s…

  11. 8-28
    12:05
    pm

    Keep her. Think how handy it would be to have a “foster cow” available for GB’s babies. And you can use the same bull on both, sell the beef babies and use GB for milk. Even if you used a milk bull on the both of them, then you may get usable milk cows out of her. She is the best of both worlds plus knows you, plus gets along with your other cows and is in great health. Yes you can’t keep them all, but I think she would be a good one to keep. Get rid of the offspring from her.

  12. 8-28
    12:07
    pm

    Other than the hay costs, cows are pretty low maintenance. Especially when you have a group of them. Just don’t tell Dumplin how comfy the porch chairs are…..

  13. 8-28
    12:36
    pm

    My first thought was to let Dumpling go now. You do not know how many book junkets you will be asked to do. . . perhaps even to CA. Fewer beasties at home might make your junkets easier. However, the point about GB being the only cow in the farm is well taken. It’s be a shame if her disposition changed (after all that hard work) just because she was lonely. (Can you tell I’m a Libra lol?)

  14. 8-28
    1:51
    pm

    As several others have said, dairy cows and beefies DO have markedly different personalities. If Dumplin is at least more friendly than most beefies, and I suspect she is, that’s a good point in favor of keeping her to use for future calves. Some beefies can be downright mean.

    On the other hand, you WILL no doubt have other calves from Glory Bee so it’s not like your future supply will be cut off any time soon. Local, grass fed, well raised beef cows bring a pretty penny around here, probably more than the normal going rate for less responsibly raised cows. You’re not going to be able to say she’s “organic” but that is fast becoming an overblown thing. You ARE raising healthy, safe, better than most commercially grown, ‘so called’ organic beef.

    Also, if you feel up to stocking the hay for her, you could wait to see if Glory Bee has a heifer or bull calf next!

  15. 8-28
    2:38
    pm

    Running even a small beef herd is not trouble free….as you pointed out, you would have to buy hay, maintain daily feeding in the winter; possibly periodic vet visits; then you would have to pull off the calves at around 7 months of age, wean, load them and sell them.

    Even if you have corrals and a loading chute, you would still have to make arrangements for a hauler.

    By selling her now (I would butcher her!) that is all eliminated. Every year you should have a new calf from GB. It seems wasteful not to have good beef in the freezer, or even a half beef and sell the other half to someone. Beef prices are good now so whether you sell or butcher it is a good thing financially.

    It seems to me you are pretty darned busy with your life right now without adding a beef herd to the mix.

    You asked; so I am trying to be very honest with you. You are so independent but there is a limit to how much you should take on.

  16. 8-28
    4:19
    pm

    Well, in my experience I would keep her for the option of breeding. Steers bring more money for beef here in VA – not sure about WVA. If you decide in a year you don’t want to breed her you can sell her as a heifer at market. They also bring decent money. Good luck! :moo:

  17. 8-28
    7:01
    pm

    My advice is, FWIW, sell her. Glory Bee will have her new calf for company before too long. And like you said, you don’t want to go into the beef calf business with everything else that’s going on in your life now, and Morgan won’t be around to help.

  18. 8-28
    7:05
    pm

    I thought you were originally intending to have a small herd of beef cattle, and intended to use Dumplin for breeding. I know plans change but I think you should keep her and keep your options open.

  19. 8-28
    8:53
    pm

    There’s rarely a ‘right’ answer on a small farm. The extra dollars are definitely a consideration and you could sell her as beef, breeder or house cow. My pure Limousin girls have lovely hand milking teats and are considered a dual purpose cow in France, so a Jersey X Limousin should be a good home producer without potential metabolic problems like Milk Fever or Ketosis. On the other hand as others have said, how with GB cope with being a lone cow?

    If you want to keep Dumplin’ as a breeder and keep her with GB as company, you will have the difficulties of weaning her, probably with a weaning nose thingy. Otherwise she might continue to suckle even when you’re trying to dry GB off because some calves can be veerrryyy persistent. If you separate her to wean her, there are no guarantees she won’t just latch back on to mama when you put them together for ‘company’ in the future. Good luck with which ever decision you make.

  20. 8-28
    10:00
    pm

    Suzanne, I have read every one of these and I only want to say one thing. When I sold all of my dairy stock except one cow which I was milking her production dropped by 25%. Just because she was lonely, and she started kicking when in the milking stall. Nough said.

  21. 8-29
    12:37
    am

    Keep her. If you have hay enough for one cow, you have enough for 2. Glory Bee may go into a decline if her daughter is removed and she has enough to deal with, being pregnant again. Or I’d hope she is. Dumplin may have a surprising amount of milk herself. Maybe enough for your purposes and her own calf. If you do plan on keeping her as part of your milk string, probably should begin handling her, her udder, her tail head (they usually love scritches along their tail head.) And, definitely separate her from mama. Not totally, but within a fence of each other. They can commiserate with each other while both getting your undivided attention. I’ve milked dairy goats for 25+ years (a herd of 50+), I milked my neighbor’s pasture cow when he needed to be in hospital and she calved with a blind calf. I milk my mares when they foal just to be certain they will be able and willing should the need arise. (Mares, once they get the idea of being hand milked, absolutely SWOON with delight!)
    And, if you do decide to sell her at some point in the future, you can command a better price because she’s 1/2 dairy and 1/2 really good beef breed, and she has had the attention of a full fledged dairy cow. Let us know your decision!! martha

  22. 8-29
    5:38
    am

    I would not want to make that decision. I know what ever you decide is what is best for you and the farm.

  23. 8-31
    11:05
    am

    This is why I have only one cat. Once I look them in the eye and they look back, I am doomed to care for them forever…

  24. 9-3
    10:59
    am

    Suzanne, that’s a tough choice. Keep in mind the fact that Morgan will not be around after this year to help with the farm. There are other distractions that deserve your time and attention. There’s the new book and its obligations. Farmers are notoriously tied to their farms because of all the responsibilities there. Please try to find a satisfying balance. No matter what your choice, you know we’ll still be right here with you. :hug:

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