Xena is Fresian/Jersey cross, I like the cross breed for hybrid vigor, the intermediate size and the nice long slim teats,and her temperament is better than either fresian or jersey - though she is still a silly. Over the years we have had several fresian, jersey and their crosses and generally for hand milking I would avoid the straight fresian- far too big and they can be dangerous at close range! Some of the most vicious cows I've known have been spoiled fresian hand raised pets, but the last jersey we bought was also a tiger (I wrote her story here viewtopic.php?f=11&t=855&p=6064&hilit=HONEY#p6064
). Jerseys if you get a nice old one can be a love -some have teats like champagne bottles which can be hard on the hands - (but then so are those itti-bitti-titties on the young jerseys that are a bit hard to master - thumb and one finger jobs).I have never milked a Dexter but I personally find even the some little jersey cows too low down to sit comfortably at, Vicki do you put them on a platform and milk them like a goat?
I wouldn't necessarily be anti getting an ex dairy farm cow - just as long as you know why shes being sold.You don't want high somatic cell counts (Ticking mastitis bomb), or temperament problems, fertility issues etc. But when we used to cull it could be for other reasons. Udder shape not suited to the milking machine, feet couldn't take the long walk in from the back of the farm, calving at wrong time of the year, age and even just slow milkers. All of these still make good house cows, but if she is your first I would go for one that has been hand milked for a while as the dairy cows are often not use to close human contact - at the head end for tying up.The first house cow we got was a old jersey who had been a dairy cow, then been a nurse cow, and house cow. She was a delight - walk up to her in the paddoc with a bucket and milk without even tying her up. Put a new calf in her paddock and her look said "OH LOOK -- FOR ME--- OH THANK YOU !!!
" and she'd adopt it.She loved people and she loved-- well pretty much everything. It was our dealing with that old darling that led us on to buying a dairy farm.
I wouldn't buy an in-calf heifer unless you have trained one into milking before- both learning is not a good combination.They can even be tricky for the learned, as we well know!! Raising your own heifer for the first time is also a trap. A cow that has been too much of a pet as a calf can be difficult if she decides she belongs higher in the 'herd order' than you. They are bigger after all so must be kept submissive for you to safely take control.She needs to trust, respect but possibly even fear you a little.
How much milk a day do you want and what do you want to do with it? The answers to that can have an affect on what breed to look at, but largely the choice is generally down to what's locally available at the time you want her. Destiny perhaps?
Anyway we love them and enjoy them.