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January 03, 2013

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BR

Hopefully you get a reminder when someone comments, otherwise, you might not see this:

My grandfather used to buy day-old calves then raise them on goat milk. Not exactly sure why he used goats, maybe easier to handle than cows, he was in his 80s at the time. He also hand-milked them and we finished off any left-over milk. I thought that might be a consideration if you raise any more day-old calves.

+1 for the comments about dairy bulls. Lots of our neighbors had holstein herd bulls, folks got gored periodically.

susan macdonald

We have a team of working steers.They are also jerseys. We have had a great time logging with them and they also plow.We had them first yoked at two weeks old. Best of luck with yours. Never turn your back on them.


Bill Hubert

Great article is there any chance I can take it and copy it onto my own blog

Tara

How timely this post is! I just got back from a friend's farm where I got to give 'driving' her oxen a go. She has two six year old, purebred Jerseys. You may be interested to know that her Jerseys weigh in at 2300lbs each. They don't have horns either and there are no issues with the yoke. They are beautiful and lovely in every way and working with them only confirms our decision to use oxen power on our farm.

I'm heading to Tillers this year for an oxen course. It's our intention to use oxen in our wood lot when harvesting our firewood and for any other task where brute strength is required. I'm really looking forward to reading about your experiences. We raise Highland cattle so these guys are a whole new ball game for us. I think they're absolutely adorable. Congratulations on taking the first step with your new boys.

Rebecca Thistlethwaite

Iain- you can get bull calves just about anywhere- at auctions, from dairies, from cattle ranches. Dairy bull calves are cheaper- we picked ours up for $10 each. Any cattle breed can be made into oxen with training, however some are better than others. Milking shorthorn is a good breed, but hard to find. Holsteins are fine and easy to find around the country.

Iain

That is a great perspective.

One of my friends used Clydesdales to do logging and it was very interesting to hear what he had to say.

I never thought that oxen could be used in the same way. I really like the idea of using them instead tractor for some of the smaller tasks that you might have around your farm.

Where you find oxen these days? Can you still purchase them at auction?

Rebecca Thistlethwaite

Jsl32- I am not really sure, but probably between $2,000-3,000 for a team? I don't see them advertised very often on the West Coast, but you will probably see them in New England for sale.

Jsl32

What does a well-trained draft team fetch?

Rebecca Thistlethwaite

Bruce- we plan to castrate them at 6 months, so hopefully that will prevent them from being total turds. Our oxen manual shows Jerseys as being a little flighty, but overall a decent oxen breed. But if they don't have the right dispositions, we will eat them (part of the beauty of oxen over other draft animals). They will be big, healthy steers and Jersey meat is reputed to be the tastiest. Thanks for the concern.

Bruce King

Dairy bulls have a reputation for getting mean; one of the grassfed dairies I visited used bulls (vs. AI) for their herd, and found that they had to sell them at 2 years of age pretty consistently.

d.a.

They're adorable!

If you don't already know/subscribe, Small Farmer's Journal always carries articles on using draft animals... it's a great quarterly mag.

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