Friday, December 12, 2008

$5 calf followup-locating a calf

I got this question in email today

hi bruce i read your blog and want to get 5$ calfs im just haveing trouble finding farms to buy from if you could send me some numbers that would be a great help im trying to stay cloose to seattle but understand that im going to have to drive to pick upthanks for taking the time to read and hopefully respond mike

Mike --I'm going to describe how to find these calves in a general way, so that people in other areas of the country can also find calves.

The first thing you do is figure out if you've seen any dairy farms. Generally speaking they're impossible to miss. They have huge barns, usually involve quite a few acres, and since they're dealing with sometimes thousands of animals, usually a manure lagoon. I've located dairies by their smell.

Likely spots are in the flood plains of local rivers, or any area that has big pastures. Google maps is a quick way to scan down a river valley looking for pastures. Depending on the resolution you can even see the cows.

Around seattle, there are dairies up and down the snoqualmie and snohomish rivers. Check around duvall and stanwood, for instance. The duvall-fall city highway has 6 or 8 dairies along it.

This is a google map link to a dairy farm located near stanwood, washington. I found this by scrolling up the river bottom and looking for farm building clusters.

Actually, I don't really know if it is a dairy farm, but I believe that it is. Find the longest barn there, and then look below it. You'll see a triple row of calf shelters. They look like little white dots. That's a dead giveaway for a dairy operation, but some guys use a long barn for their calves, so not having calf domes doesn't mean it's not a dairy operation.,+wa&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=37.325633,66.09375&ie=UTF8&ll=48.212778,-122.262737&spn=0.003839,0.008068&t=h&z=17

Buying one of these calves is an in-person activity. You want to go talk to the farmer, get a feel for how he treats his animals. You're buyng the farmer, not just a calf. You want the fellow to know you're seriously interested, and want the calf to get some colostrum -- the more the better, but at least 4 hours of it.

If your geographic work doesn't pan out, hit the phone book. This search, for seattle, yields quite a few possible dairies.

Dairy farming is very hard, continuous work. Be aware that the fellow you get on the phone is plenty busy, and be respectful of his schedule. If you call and say you'll be there at 10am, make sure you are there right on time, or even a little early. He'll appreciate it, and it makes the bargain for the animal easier, too. Everyone loves respect.

I really do reccomend the calf domes to make this whole thing easier. make sure that whatever your idea is,that you're all set for a calf before you ask for one. On the day you call there may be one or two. Have everything ready -- bag of milk starter, bale of good hay, bag of calf starter.

Ok. Now you've got a dairy contact -- you need at least 2 cows. 3 or 4 is better. I purchased 3, and then another 2, for a total of 5. A few months later I purchased another 2, so now I have 7.
Cows are herd animals and do better when there are other animals around. I arrange my calf domes so each little cow can see at least one other little cow, or 2 or 3 if I have them. I always buy at least a pair of each age, so everyone has a little friend to grow up with.

Let me know how you do. Current market price for a day old holsteen bull calf is between $10 and $20.

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