We are thinking of purchasing a dairy cow. An acquaintance of my wife has a Dexter cow and we are considering buying her for our own dairy consumption (milk, cream, cheese). We already have horses, donkeys, dogs and cats and are also on the verge of building a chicken coop.
Anyone here have any thoughts or suggestions re: a cow?
Dairy cows must, I repeat, MUST, be milked twice a day, EVERY DAY. Even a fellow with strong hands can get some terrible pain in his hands from milking a cow twice a day, every day. Of course you could purchase milking machine and get into the twice daily cleaning and sterilization of the equipment. They need to be bred yearly to keep them lactating. Which means you will need access to a bull or learn artificial insemination techniques.
I might suggest some reading on the subject before making the big mooove. :) Including a book called Growing a Farmer, by Kurt Timmermeister.
I really considered getting a dairy cow and was warned against it by many in my part of the country (NE WA State).
First, cows are herd animals. You really need two of them to have a happy cow. If you have just one they often will go on walk-abouts looking for another cow. There is nothing more sad than a lonley dairy all by herself in a field.
Second, if you live in a cold climate, where will you keep it during the winter? I can't imagine having a lone cow out in a blizzard by herself, coyotes circling...
Around here, nearly everyone has dairy goats who want milk. They especially seem to be a "girl thing" as they are easy to handle and can make wonderful pets. I can push and pull my goats and bribe them easily with grain.
Folks all have their favorites. I love my Nubians for the high butter fat and sweet, sweet AWESOME milk. I presently have way too many (11)! Others like Saanans or Alpines whose milk isn't as sweet but there is more of it. A new breed catching on here is Snubian (1/2 Nubian, 1/2 Saanan.) People like the Snubians because they give more volume than a Nubian, yet the claim is that they retain the sweet taste of the Nubian's milk. Bottom line, two female Snubians should be enough for a family.
So much depends on where you live and your climate. During winter months I only milk once a day as the goats cut back on their volume. Milking stops the last two months of their pregnancy. And there are plenty of bucks around to choose from.
I suggest you do more research before jumping in. Since it is Fall, you will need to get alfalfa if you are going to purchase soon. In the Fall people unload their least favorite goats, so checking bloodlines, disposition, ease in milking, etc. is really a must.
I know nothing about cows, but lots about goats. I have made many mistakes and would certainly like to help you avoid repeating my errors.
a jersey cow was recommended to us so I found a nice one at the sale barn, had her bred and she was the nicest cow and got along with the other cattle, no problem right?
well, after she calved, she went nuts, tore down fences, lead the others on unsanctioned trips off the farm , kicked a couple holes in the barn and was accurate enough to kick me in both knees at once. Bella(of course the kids named her) just wouldn't calm down so she went on a trip
I'm sure they all aren't like that but , all things considered, a gallon of milk *if there would have been one, she was too ornery to milk,
shouldn't have cost more than $500 per gallon , not including crutches
goats are like dogs with udders, they like to see you and don't
eat as much
milk is over rated anyway