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Thread: How many acres per cow?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Southern Illinois
    Posts
    48

    Default How many acres per cow?

    I have purchased a few cows and intend to be milking by this summer.I own 80 acres here where I am at now and rent some farm land that I raise hay , corn and soybeans on. My goal is to be milking 50 cows within the next couple years so my question is how many acres should be required to feed a 50 cow farm. I will try to graze during the summer months when the weather cooperates but will need to set aside some ground for corn silage and winter hay. I only chopped 10 acres of corn this year but I'm sure I will need more acres of corn when start getting up in numbers. Does anyone have any estimated figures on how many acres of corn I will need ect ? Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    SW Missouri
    Posts
    68

    Default

    With 80 acres in southern, Il. you should plan on milking 80+ . I would figure 3-4.5 ton corn silage/cow and about 1-2 ton of hay. Depends alot on how you plan to feed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Southern Illinois
    Posts
    48

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    I was thinking on grazing in spring and early summer on padocks of fescue and clover and maybe for late summer rye grass or sudex and maybe turnips. I would feed dry hay free choice along with grazing and would feed some corn silage and hay through the winter while cows aren't grazing. I don't have very good luck with alfalfa right here where I'm at. I know a guy here that grazes 100 head of brown swiss on 2 acre padocks and moves them to new padocks twice a day.He grazes while feed is short , 8 inches high or so down to about 3-4 inches. I don't know how many acres he grazes or how long before he starts over the second grazing.I guess that all depends on how much rain we get.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Lebanon, PA
    Posts
    713

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    Buying hay can be better than making it when acres are low. For corn silage you could figure about 3-4 cows per acre but you never want to run short. We have 110 cows for 80 acres with another 40 acres in pasture. We graze springing heifers but have the young heifers at a custom grower.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    243

    Default

    Asking how many cow's per acre is kind of like asking how much air goes in a tire! These are some questions you need to get answers for so that you can formulate an informed answer to your question.

    You must assess the way your are feeding, if you are using traditional or management intensive grazing, seasonal, or something in between, what is the pasture composition and condition (or what types are possible), growing season, rainfall patterns, and soil type. Also, what are your facilities and manure handling methods/disposal? What breed are they? Are you purchasing or raising concentrate/hay/silage? Also, are you producing specialty milk or traditional milk? Finally, how close are you to residential areas? This can significantly influence how you structure your operation. Finally, what milking system are you using, and how much time do you have!? Are you raising replacements? What are you management skills?

    Your outcomes from these questions will help you figure out not only how many cows the land will hold (or how much land you need), but also how much you can milk in a reasonable amount of time and how much you can manage.
    .
    I think the by the others are good, but be sure to talk with your extension agent, a consultant, or dairy farmers in the immediate area because they may be able to help you a lot!

    I hope that helps you out!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Southern Illinois
    Posts
    48

    Default

    mmccaallum , I fully agree with you. It is a pretty open and complex question. I guess I should start out with about half the herd I was thinking (30-40 head) and see how it goes a couple years then think about expanding if I can handle it at that time. The problem I have is right now is I have a full time job and I didn't want to quit it and start dairing not knowing what kind of income I was going to for sure have and how many head I was going to be able to accomidate on what I have now. It's going to be pretty tuff working 8 hours a day at a full time job then coming home and taking care of cows at first but I don't want to quit now then be milking 30 or 40 head and not able to make ends meet. Right now I am making about $ 40,000 a year working at a factory job and I'm already making my land payments out of that so you kinda see what I'm looking at here.Thanks for the replies.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    75

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwkrjk2000 View Post
    mmccaallum , I fully agree with you. It is a pretty open and complex question. I guess I should start out with about half the herd I was thinking (30-40 head) and see how it goes a couple years then think about expanding if I can handle it at that time. The problem I have is right now is I have a full time job and I didn't want to quit it and start dairing not knowing what kind of income I was going to for sure have and how many head I was going to be able to accomidate on what I have now. It's going to be pretty tuff working 8 hours a day at a full time job then coming home and taking care of cows at first but I don't want to quit now then be milking 30 or 40 head and not able to make ends meet. Right now I am making about $ 40,000 a year working at a factory job and I'm already making my land payments out of that so you kinda see what I'm looking at here.Thanks for the replies.

    I feel your pain.....when I get started I'm gonna be in the same boat as you having a full time job. As it is I'll be working at a farm soon and have my full time job at night and the farm during the day.

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