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I want a cow. But how to choose the right one? Here's what I got to go on. We have 6 acres. Almost all of which is fenced in. About 1 1/2 acres in the middle is taken up by a pond. There is pasture and woods inside the fence. Currently residing within said fence are 8 Nigerian Dwarf goats, 2 miniature donkeys and 1 miniature horse along with about 120 various fowls. Now I want to add a cow to the mix. But here's what I'm looking for....

*Small.... to fit in with the other miniature critters

*Friendly and affectionate as all our furry animals and some of the feathered ones are petting zoo type friendly

*It needs to be both pet quality and give good milk.

*No horns. Whether they would ever intentionally hurt us doesn't mean accidents can't happen. And we don't want any casualties if they get irritated with other animals.

While we have no intentions of breeding and selling, we'll obviously have to breed to get milk. The calves may end up in the freezer so a good dual purpose would be nice.

Does this cow exist or am I being too picky?

I joined this forum after reading about Dexters here. But I am afraid I may not be able to afford one of them. At least not right now. I have to ask more experienced cattle folks because there may be other options out there. Heck, I'd never heard of a Dexter until yesterday. I was kinda leaning toward a Jersey until I read about the Dexters. I would much rather have the smaller cow.

I really appreciate any input you folks might want to throw my way.

Thanks.
 

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You are going to pay for a small animal, as there aren't a lot of them out there. There are mini galloway, holstein, hereford, zebu... then u have the dexters and jerseys who can be bred to be small as well.

No matter what breed you want to buy, right now is pricey. ALL beef is expensive, even dairy cattle as I can take them to the auction, or direct to processor for $1.75-2.50/lb yet. So that older cow is still worth $1000 and up.
 

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Whether they have have horns or not a large animal can Hurt You. I have been hurt more by the other end of cattle. (broken Leg vs. bruised Knuckles.) If you respect the space around their head Horns are not a problem. Even if they don't have horns respect the area around their head I have seen people thrown and seen cow's pickup 6x6 round bales with their heads and flip other cows. Our Highland bull likes to scratch on the tractor and will pickup the back of it doing so. (43hp MM) Just watch the donkey sometimes they go ape when you bring in other large animals.
 

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I want a cow. ......Now I want to add a cow to the mix.
Cows are herd animals.. You can have one, but they usually aren't very happy alone... With all the other animals you have on your property, it doesn't sound like there's much room left for a pair of cattle..
 
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You have the definitive farm for Dexter cattle. A cow with a calf at her side, giving you about a gallon of milk per day while still feeding a fat beef calf.

Re-breed her 3 months after her calf is born, so she dries up at around the 10th month and freshens at 12 months.

You can harvest the yearling calf or hold it another year to make really good beef. That would mean that you would spend the first year with a cow and calf, the second year and all subsequent years with a cow, a calf, and a yearling beef.

That should just fit your size farm.
 

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You dont have the space IMO. The best cow for a small hobby farm is a GOAT!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I appreciate the responses. Several differing opinions. I am certainly going to have to do my homework before making the decision to get a family cow. I have been around farm animals all my life and am quite comfortable around large animals. I have just never owned the farm and therefore never had to make the decisions on what breeds to keep. Nor have I had the responsibility of their wellbeing. Now that I'm in that position I just want to make the best decisions I can for the welfare of the animals and our needs/wants for the farm. Thanks again.
 

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I second the goat. A good quality milker will give you easy over a gallon a day. You can load her into your car to transport in an emergency. They are easy to care for. They love you. Ext.
 

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I honestly don't believe you have enough space on 4.5 acres. Do you also have a house and a barn on this property? Is the pond fenced off?

You've got goats, equine, and poultry, all of which require separate feed and minerals, and you'll need a qualified large animal vet (or a couple of them) to care for the variety of animals you already have. They will compete with a cow for food and space. The donkeys could be a danger to any calves you have. As others have said, the cow needs similar companionship.

If you're new to all of this, I'd suggest seeing how you're able to manage all the animals you have before expanding.

Of course, according to Mother Earth News, you could have a self-sufficient homestead on one acre; google it.
 

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At least 40 of the birds are going to be gone within the next week.

We do already have an amazing large animal vet, too.


(Hi, I'm GAWannabe's wife)



Very excited about all that we will be able to learn and share here.
 

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it sounds like you are already pushing it for room. unless you are too attached i would get rid of the donkeys and get a cow/calf pair or a pregnant cow. youll get much more return on your investment with cows. i wouldnt let the horns worry you, you or your vet can remove them if you'd like.
 

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I agree on the space issue. You could probably cut the goat herd in half and drop to one equine to make everyone fit.

I'd recommend a Jersey. That's what I have, and she sounds very much like what you described. You can get mini Jerseys, but they cost more. A regular, 800-lb. Jersey cow would work.
 

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Sounds like you don't have enough space. Typical recommendation is 1 acre per cow of good quality grass pasture. Woods and pond don't count. Add the other animals to the mix and your way over capacity
 

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If you scaled back the horse or donkey, and then were able to set up managed grazing in your pasture it could work with a small Dexter and one or two of its calves. I'm sure you're have to supplement a little bit in the months when your pasture is not growing real well.

When I say managed grazing, I'm talking about daily moves or perhaps ever two days, with a back line set up within a few days on the areas that were just grazed to prevent them from going back and walking on or grazing it. Think cutting your lawn a few feet each day. By the time you're back after 40 days of rotation you start over again.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I am really glad I put some thought into this and sought opinions. I have decided against getting a cow. I think it would be fun to have a really tame one that was pet quality but it would also have to "pay rent" in some way. I just don't think we'll be able to keep up with a milking schedule.

I do think we have plenty of grazing room though since I am still having to bushhog the pasture. And I am going to have to put a grazing muzzle on our miniature mare. She doesn't come up for air unless she thinks she's going to get some kind of a handout. She is too tubby and needs to go on a diet. The goats don't affect the pasture much since they focus on higher browse like sweet gum trees, pine saplings, briars and muscadine vines.

I appreciate everyone's input.
 
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