Cost of keeping a family cow

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by cokedale_clan, Jul 14, 2004.

  1. cokedale_clan

    cokedale_clan New Member

    Jun 21, 2004
    We are going to be adding a family cow to our homestead, Lord willing. Can someone give me an idea of the regular costs involved? We hope to find a good, healthy cow that is reasonably priced. What items are "must haves" for home-milking? What are the usual veterinary costs? One huge blessing for us is that we have a nice, fenced pasture of about 8 acres, and also we receive an annual gift from my father of 2 tons of alfalfa hay. Our cow will be sharing the pasture and hay with one very spoiled and loved welsh mountain pony. We have already figured that a cow should save us about $1000 annually in dairy products purchased at the store, now we are trying to estimate what usual annual costs are of keeping a milk cow. Thanks for your help!
  2. bbmae

    bbmae Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    It depends on the breed of course, but as a general rule you can figure a cow will eat their body weight in hay per month. That's how I figure it when computing how much hay I need to winter over our cows.
    The "must haves" can run the gamut of how much work you are willing to do or not do.
    The only thing you must have is a milk bucket and refrigeration capable of getting the milk cold within an hour. Rags to clean the udder with and a strainer or lint free cloth to strain the milk through.
    I use regular household bleach to clean all my utensils and have had very good success with using that. Have heard of people using other products. Make sure it doesn't have additives like fragrances and whatnot.
    If you don't have a milking stanchion you will need a halter so you can tie her to a tree or post.
    Vet costs vary a lot depending on what needs to be done. We have a wonderful vet and he often times only charges us half a trip fee. I budget 200 dollars a year and I don't always use that much. Some years all you will need is a TB test and nothing else. This is assuming yuou will be doing her vaccinations yourself. If you end up with a mastitis problem or a complicated birth it can use up every penny of that. Hard to really pin down a vet cost.
    Hope this has been somewhat helpful. Good luck!!

  3. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    Western NY
    It is really hard to put an estimate on it with so many variables. I see you are in Montana, how many days can you use your pasture? Work that out and that will leave you the remainder to feed hay, then you can basically work out the amount of hay you will use, based on what breed of cow you get. For instance I have a Dexter, in winter if I feed her half of a small bale of grass hay per day she's getting too much!! I pay $1.00 for a bale of timothy hay so my hay cost is 50 cents a day(very cheap). But, if you were feeding a Jersey in Montana in the winter at hay prices there (I know you have free hay for now) then the price is gonna be up there. So, as you see the variables are up there. I"ve used a vet once in four years, but my breed is very hardy also. Bedding in a long winter can be expensive, but you have a pony already, you may be able to work that cost out. If you get a Jersey, you will also probably need to be giving her several pounds of grain a day for her milk production. A good milk bucket or 2 would be worth it, I use one of those very very fine re usable coffee filters or sometimes lint free cloths. You can spend a fortune or you can be economical, leaving the milk to seperate from the cream is cheaper than buying a cream seperator.Narrowing down a breed with a little research will be your first job, then learning all you can on that breed and you'll be having fun before you know it!!

    Let us know what breed you decide on, and good luck

    Carol K
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Keeping your cow will cost you less if you give all the free hay to her and charge the pony for the boughten hay. Let that pony go out in the pasture all winter. It will save on the hay bill. If the snow isn't real deep the cow would dig out grass also. 8 acres should have spare grass going into winter. Does it grow lush grass or is it kinda sparce like much of the state.
  5. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 18, 2002
    SE Washington
    When I was growing up in Montana (Billings area) we fed 25 pounds of orchard/white clover hay per day and nothing else. These were black baldy cows (800 - 1000 pound cows) and they always weaned 600 pound calves. If you are in a warmer climate you can get by with less. How much you have to feed a cow depends on its size and breed.