I'm wanting to get me a new milk cow! I heard Holsteins or jerseys are good with sweet milk! I'm looking to use her for milk mostly to drink but I'd also love to make some butter and buttermilk! Any advice on breeds would be greatly appreciated and if anyone has a good recipe for butter please share I'm new at this I'm trying to be as self sufficient as possible and I really don't enjoy the watered down store bought milk!!thanks all
Post by mdtreehugger on Jun 23, 2017 7:30:35 GMT -5
I am going to start this off with the statement that I have not, do not, and probably will not own a diary cow. That being said I will offer up some advice and ask some questions of you.
What live stock experience do you have? Cow's are a lot of work and a big commitment. Jumping right into having a cow sounds like a recipe for disaster for most beginning homesteaders. Starting out with easier critters to get your feet wet would be well advised. Poultry are easy and generally problem free, sounds like you already have some chickens. Pigs are relatively easy, especially raising them as feeders. Although when a pig gets sick, they get sick fast. Same with sheep. I have never raised goats, but I hear they will test your patience and your fence daily.
Do you have the time commitment for a cow? Cows must be feed and watered like all other livestock. But the real commitment is milking. This is typically a twice a day chore of first sanitizing your equipment, for a single cow this is likely just a stainless steel bucket. Then you will spend time actually milking the cow. After that is complete the milk must then be put up for later use. I am not sure how long this will take, but an hour each milking doesn't sound unrealistic if doing it by hand. I have heard of people that only milk in the morning, then let the calf spend the day with the cow. The calf takes care of the afternoon milking for you, but you must be there to then separate the calf and cow again after 12 hours so you will have milk the next morning.
What would you do with the calf? And do you have space to raise the calf as well? Bull calfs eventually make great eating, especially if you steer them, but the grow out time on a calf is much longer than other livestock, especially a diary breed.
If you really want to get a cow I would suggest starting out with a feeder meat type just to get a handle on managing a cow without a huge commitment. Although I myself have never owned a cow I have spent plenty of time around them. I find the meat breeds to also be better tempered than diary breeds. I assure you there is nothing meaner in this world than a Holestien bull. And if you really want a diary cow now, check out the mini cattle. Breeds like milking Devons and Dexters, are both smaller and dual purpose. I hear they tend to have better temperament, they take less space, and eat less feed, while still providing plenty of milk.
Again I am no expert on cows, but I really think you should put this one on the back burner for a while. Starting a slow and building up is the key to successful homesteading.
I'll jump in with my two cents... or maybe only a single cents worth.
Grew up on a large dairy farm in the pre-pipeline / bulk tank era. Vacuum milkers and milk cans. Truck would fill one full load of cans at our farm. We milked registered Holsteins. Lower in butterfat, but high in poundage. Very gentle cows, but they were handled daily from the time they were born. Our Holsteins, back in the day, produced on average 8+ gallons of milk a day, which is darn close to 3000 gallons a year - a lot of milk to use up. Grandpa always had a few Jerseys to increase the butterfat test on the herd. Both breeds were gentle, and like people, some were stupid, some more temperamental, and some thought they were your best friend.
I think any milk cow can be gentle enough to be a family milker depending on how it has been raised. Alot of cull cows from large dairy operations today won't have alot of regular human interaction - they are industrial animals, not a family pet. Cheap to purchase, but be aware of what you are getting.
mdtreehugger is correct that they take alot of regular care, everyday, twice a day. Yes, it can be a great experience, but please be aware of the labor and commitment a dairy cow will take. I know we raised Holsteins for our livelihood, but I also remember the cows needs and schedule came before everything else.
Good luck, and let us know if you become a dairyman.
I've never owned , or so much as milked a cow, but my uncles on my mothers side were all dairy farmers, and one thing I can tell you about them is that they were married to those cows.
I often talk to the farmer that rents my land, and the happiest day of his farming life was when he sold his dairy cows. While other dad's were taking their kids in vacation they were stuck home milking the cows...twice a day...every single day. Cows don't take holidays or sick days. If you aren't able to milk them you had better know somebody who can fill in for you at the last minute.
I don't want to talk you out of anything, and I applaud your homesteading ambition, but I can't imagine a bigger commitment on the homestead as far as an animal goes.
Well all thanks for the advice like I said I'm putting the idea out there it's not something I'm going to jump into I just wanted fresher milk and a way to save some more money around home here I go through a lil over a gallon a day I might just get me a goat to start out with I hear they have good milk just need to research the breed I need I have raised beef cattle all my young life and just thought I'd see how the milk cows were and I'm gonna do some more studies to see the best option thanks again and if I have any more info it's always greatly appreciated