Pros/Cons Dairy Cow

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Unregistered-1427815803, May 2, 2004.

  1. We have a small farm and currently only have chickens for eggs, a few pigs and cows we use for beef. Due to our rural area, gas prices, dairy prices etc... I am weighing the pros & cons of buying a dairy cow. I have never milked one before and don't know what to expect. How much do they cost for upkeep and feed and is it worth it? How much extra time each day would I have to plan for her upkeep? I want to make my own cheese & butter and would love to have fresh milk for my family. My husband is concerned about the safety of the raw milk.

    I would appreciate recommendations from those of you who have a dairy cow. What brand should I look for and what qualities. I have elementary school age children that help me with my farm chores so I need a gentle breed that would be easy to milk. I would be doing the milking but I don't want one that would charge at them as one of my beef cows did once.

    MountainMama (It won't let me sign in)
     
  2. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    MM,
    about how much milk do you use now? If you are a small family a Jersey or Holstein may drown you in milk, but you did say you had pigs, and you could feed excess to the pigs. I think a Jersey can give anywhere from 5+ gallons a day, and although I've never owned one, from what I've read they seem very high maintenance to me, I'm sure others will say not though!! Could you maybe AI one of your beefers with some Jersey semen and hope for a heifer? How about milking one of your beefers? What beef breed do you have? Not sure if I'm helping any here lol, but I gave you a few things to think over.

    Carol K
     

  3. MountainMama

    MountainMama Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Carol.

    Our family drinks about 4+ gallons a week but we would be sharing with our other family members that live around us (DH has a LARGE family) and I also want to make cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream from it. The pigs and cats would love the extra. I don't think we would need 5 gallons a day though.

    Are there any smaller breeds that produce less milk and would eat less?

    MountainMama
     
  4. Tracy in Idaho

    Tracy in Idaho Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Have you thought at all about dairy goats? I have more than one doe that milks in the 2 gallon a day range. Even an average goat should give you at least a gallon a day.

    I have heard of folks milking the Dexter cows, but one already trained to milk and/or in milk may be difficult to find.

    Raw milk has great health benefits -- do a web search on raw milk benefits. As long as your stock is healthy and your milk handling is good, no problems.

    Tracy
     
  5. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm, Tracy has an idea about the goats, have you thought about goats? Mind you, I think with goats you need a cream seperator for things like butter, but, what you save on feeding a cow, you'd be able to afford one!! There are mini jerseys out there, do a search on Belmont Cattle and then also on Mini Jersey. You can visit the Dexter site I have at the bottom of my posts, they have a section on Dexter Milking.

    Carol
     
  6. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    I've been thrilled with our Jersey.

    I only take about a gallon and a half of milk off her a day, calf gets the rest.

    Not sure how much it costs to feed her, as feed is shared among many animals here.

    She is an older cow and very gentle. I like her personality far better than the Holsteins I milk at work.

    Remember you will have to be home at the same time each day to milk, so make sure your schedule will allow it.

    I bought a pasteurizer via eBay for less than $20.
     
  7. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member

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    Michigan
    Everyone has such great ideas. We have 5 jersey's of different ages, all thanks to starting with the one. Bought our first cow when she was 3, she is gonna be 13 next month. Best thing we ever did. We have had several wonderful calves, we breed her AI. Registered bring more money, and Jerseys seem to have alot more heifers then bulls. I am currently milking her 4 year old daughter Rosie, the older cow Dulcie is due in the fall. We feed milk to everything, chickens relish it, pigs prefer it over any grain.
    We use to buy all our hay. But now we can make our own. If you can put up your hay when the prices are down during haying season its not a problem. Could get expensive if you have to buy it in the late winter, early spring. We have a mixed grain ration made that is dual purpose with all our livestock{except horses!}. We do not give much grain, then I add a handful of powdered kelp and flaxseed on top.
    I have really gotten into making hard cheeses this year and its fun. Any mess ups the chickens or pigs love. We do sell extra milk, and of course family gets some. Type in "raw milk" to your search companion and have fun reading all the benefits of raw milk. We easily can drink or use a gallon a day for our own consumtion in the house. Dirk Van Loon's "Family Milk Cow" is a good place to start before you buy. The best to ya :)
     
  8. We recently bought a Jersey milk cow. They are hard to find because the dairies don't seem to want to get rid of them. Ours is a 5 year old with only 3 teets and her milk production was low for the dairy to want to keep.
    She is very gentle. She had not been hand milked before (only machine milked) but she learned very fast. We were getting about 3 gallons a day off her but now she is slowing down.
    We picked up 2 bull calves that were a couple of days old from the same dairy and have been giving them the excess milk. Our family drinks about a gallon a day.
    Here are some questions you should ask:
    1. When did she last calve? Milk production follows a cycle. Higher shortly after calving and then tapering off for the next nine months.
    2. Is she bred? Has she been tested and confirmed pregnant? We were told that our cow had been AI'd. However, apparently it did not take because she came in heat shortly. We have a red angus bull that we hope has taken care of the situation.
    3. How much milk is she currently giving? The dairy should have records.

    Don't worry about the excess milk. Give it to animals, make butter, cook with it, etc. I worry more about the lack of milk!

    Stan
    East Texas
     
  9. MountainMama

    MountainMama Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much. I have been looking around to find the "right" one for our family.

    THANKS FOR ALL YOUR INPUT!

    MountainMama
     
  10. Mullers Lane Farm

    Mullers Lane Farm Well-Known Member

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    NW IL
    Getting a Family Cow
    MM,
    My husband wrote the above article about getting our Jersey.

    He thinks Jerseys would be your best choice (or Guernseys) because of their smaller size & gentle nature. Milk production would be far less than a Holstein so too much milk would not be a problem. Jerseys have a very high butterfat content and you would have plenty for making butter - no cream separator required. I love the cheeses made from Jersey milk. (there are a few cheese recipes on our website - go to "lessons in homesteading")

    Paul's philosophy is if you think you want to get a cow, just do it! You already have other livestock, the extra care for a milk cow (aside from milking) would be minimal. Paul can milk our Dolly in about 10 minutes - it takes me about 20-25 minutes. I never milked before 2 year ago and seldom milk now. It took me almost 40 minutes when I started!!! Dolly was always patient with me.

    Dolly hasn't freshened in two years (she is currently due this fall). Her production was about 4 gallons a day about 4 months into freshining. She only gives about 2 gallons now.

    We bought 5 weaner pigs last January and gave 2 to the neighbors. Ours receive extra milk and at butcher time are easily 50# heavier than theirs.

    What type of beef breed do you have?? Do you AI or keep a bull? If you have a low birth weight Angus bull (and don't care about registered calves), you can easily breed a Jersey cow to an Angus bull (as long as he throws low birth weight calves).

    GO JERSEY!!
     
  11. JanH

    JanH Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    IL
    There's MUCH more to pick from with cattle than Jerseys and Holsteins. And actually more suited to a family. But a few questions...do you have room to pasture/graze her? Will you be hand milking or getting a portable milker? What do you have accessible to breed to (she'll need to be bred annually)?

    A few things to look for....temperment, temperment, temperment. Overlook show, and to some degree overlook milk production. A flunkie dairy cow will produce enough for most families even if she's not "commercially" viable.

    Consider some other breeds. The Brown Swiss is a larger breed, quiet, excellent family cow that can raise a beef calf for the freezer as well as producing enough milk for a family. They are excellent grazers...meaning you'll have to buy less grain and hay (*less*, not necessarily none). You're more likely to find a grass based program - and the cow selected for grazing not major confinement situations. Other alternatives...shorthorns aren't quite as big as Swiss; Ayrshires have a reputation for being nervous but those I've been around have been nice quiet cows. All of these breeds excell at grazing for their forage. All will produce enough cream for other projects (ice cream etc) as well as clean milk.

    When milking be sure and wash and dry the udder and keep all utensils CLEAN. If you're hand milking be sure and get one with teats that fit your hands easily...and *tell* the seller you want to hand milk. Most dairymen will find a cow of the temperment and suitability as many have a favorite old cow who just doesn't keep up in the parlor. All of the above breeds have individuals that are safe around children...that's what they were developed for (family cows)..and all will raise a decent beef calf as well as milk.

    Hope this helps. :haha:
     
  12. MountainMama

    MountainMama Well-Known Member

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    We have a small pasture fenced approx. 1/3 acre that would be her area. It has a stall and gated area as well. I am open to any breed but really need something gentle. I baby all my animals too much and everyone tells me not to get attached to them but they are an important part of our lives and I want to get the right cow.

    It is hard to let go of the beef cows but I know their purpose and appreciate the good meat they provide for our family. The dairy cow would have to be hand milked at first unless I found a good deal on the other equipment.

    THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ADVICE!!!

    MountainMama
     
  13. K. Sanderson

    K. Sanderson Active Member

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    Oregon (Klamath Falls)
    Have you measured your small pasture? If it is really only 1/3 acre, that wouldn't be enough for a cow unless you fed quite a bit of hay most of the year. You might want to reconsider and go with a couple of dairy goats if that is all the pasture you have, as it would be enough for them. Need *very* good fencing for goats, though.

    Kathleen
     
  14. jim/se kansas

    jim/se kansas Well-Known Member

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    Check out Dexter's. I am milking one now and have had Jersey's. Dexter's use less pasture and feed than most cows.
    Hope this helps. Jim
     
  15. MountainMama

    MountainMama Well-Known Member

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    That fenced pasture portion for the cows is over 2 acres but I have the smaller area that I was planning to put her in so she wouldn't have to interact with the other animals until she gets comfortable with her surroundings. I usually feed them in addition to their grazing.

    Some of my beef cows are not very nice at times and I didn't know if that would effect her milk supply if she were harrassed by them. If they get along then she would be fine to graze with them.

    THANKS!

    MountainMama