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single-cow economics

 
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Has anyone posted a breakdown of cow economics for a one-cow homestead?  How much milk does the family use?  How much butter can be made and sold?  How many raw milk customers can be supported?  How frequently does fresh milk need to be delivered?  Cheese-making options?  Feed costs balanced against potential income.  We're working towards our first dairy cow next year, so trying to put together some options.  Almost finished with Joann Grohman's book about Keeping the Family Cow.
 
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Good questions. I wonder also if there's anything special to look for to find out how a cow would go on her own? Would she be ok with just people and other animals for company, or is a cow always happier with other cows for company? Does it depend on the temperament of the individual cow?

Butter is a big priority for my family. I wonder if this means we would be better off getting a higher butterfat breed, or choosing a breed based on which ones are more resilient here and just feeding the excess skim milk to pigs and chickens.
 
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Cows generally produce about 8 gallons of milk a day, depending on the breed.  That's about 70 lbs. of milk.  However some cows can produce as much as 15 or more gallons.  I read of a cow in Wisconsin that produced 23 gallons of milk a day.  Astounding.

A gallon of raw milk will have 1 to 1.5 pints of cream.  So an average cow would produce about 10 pints of cream a day, or 1.25 gallons of cream.  A quart of cream makes a pound of butter, so an average cow would produce about 5 pounds of butter a day.

A gallon of milk produces a pound of hard cheese, or two pounds of soft cheese.  Lets go with 1.5 pounds of cheese.  Thus, after you've separated the cream, you'd have a little under 7 gallons of milk to make cheese.  That would turn into a little over 10 lbs of cheese a day.

Final total from one cow:  5 lbs. of butter and 10 lbs. of cheese every day.

If you had a larger, more productive cow, or you drank a half gallon of that milk a day, you'd need to adjust those figures, but lets use them as our rough estimate.

365 days a year = 3650 lbs. of cheese and about 1500 lbs. of butter.  If you sold that cheese at $4 a lb., that would yield $14,600.  1500 lbs. of butter @ $5 a lb. = $7500.

Is it realistic that you'd make 22K a year by selling all that butter and cheese from one cow?  Butter is pretty simple to make, but cheese is a lot trickier.  But if you know what you are doing, you could make a lot more than $4 a lb.


Those are my rough calculations.  It doesn't factor in your time, the expense associated with making butter and cheese, storing it, transporting it and selling it, vet bills, buying feed, and a 1000 other unanticipated expenses.  But lets imagine that you cranked up the economies of scale and had 10 cows.  Could you make 10K on each cow, 100K a year?  A person could live very comfortably on that.
 
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This is my opinion, and I hope to not offend anyone, and is not meant to be a “this is the truth” post.

Frank Spezzano wrote:Has anyone posted a breakdown of cow economics for a one-cow homestead?  How much milk does the family use?  How much butter can be made and sold?  How many raw milk customers can be supported?  How frequently does fresh milk need to be delivered?  Cheese-making options?  Feed costs balanced against potential income.  We're working towards our first dairy cow next year, so trying to put together some options.  Almost finished with Joann Grohman's book about Keeping the Family Cow.



If you read her book, you know what she says, lovingly, about a dairy cow being THE most prized and useful animal a homestead can possibly have.

She will give you enough manure to grow a beautiful 1/2 acre vegetable garden every year, a calf to raise for your freezer every year, and enough milk to keep your family fed with butter, cream, cheese, milk, and other products like that. Depending on how big your family is, you might be able to use some of that milk to feed other creatures like chickens or pigs, and that just adds to the usefulness of it.

Not last on my list of benefits is their loving and calm demeanor, like having a big 1000 lbs dog walking around, just a many more times cuter and more useful. No offense to my dogs, love them very much for the work they do.

In terms of selling some of the milk, it depends a lot on your state law. If you live in Rhode Island, it seems raw milk sales are illegal, so not sure how you would go about that.

I could go on and on about how good it is to have a milk cow on your homestead, but the conclusion of my rambling would be you just can’t go wrong with having one, if you’re willing to put in the work it takes.

I have three myself, and they are the pride and joy of my life☺️.

 
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I like Marco's details. In my area there is one farm selling raw milk. They get $8 a gallon($10 per quart of cream). Based on the stated 8 gallons a day, thats ruffly $23,000 a year (milk) without the hassle of making cheese and butter. Maybe the price is high, i can't speak for that. They have no competition for raw milk.

The local has built up clientel and has a fridge outside using the honor system. It's not on the roadside, more like inside their ranch. They added eggs and then added cheese. They don't make the cheese, they buy/consign from a local artisan cheese maker. That cheesemaker most likely buys their milk.

I think they participate in the local farmers market but i have never been there. Its 2 towns away. Work brings me there every 2 weeks which is when i buy it.

I am bringing this up because this seems like an excellent method to get the product to the customer. It seems rather brilliant. Yes, they spend weekends at the farmers market, but that can loosen up as the honor stand starts getting used. If you calculate your time on the sales aspect, some small losses in theft may be cheaper overall. The slower approach to keeping the stand off the public road probably eliminates all of that though. I thought it impressive all around. You see the cows when you buy the milk.
 
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wayne fajkus wrote:I like Marco's details. In my area there is one farm selling raw milk. They get $8 a gallon($10 per quart of cream). Based on the stated 8 gallons a day, thats ruffly $23,000 a year (milk) without the hassle of making cheese and butter. Maybe the price is high, i can't speak for that. They have no competition for raw milk.

The local has built up clientel and has a fridge outside using the honor system. It's not on the roadside, more like inside their ranch. They added eggs and then added cheese. They don't make the cheese, they buy/consign from a local artisan cheese maker. That cheesemaker most likely buys their milk.

I think they participate in the local farmers market but i have never been there. Its 2 towns away. Work brings me there every 2 weeks which is when i buy it.

I am bringing this up because this seems like an excellent method to get the product to the customer. It seems rather brilliant. Yes, they spend weekends at the farmers market, but that can loosen up as the honor stand starts getting used. If you calculate your time on the sales aspect, some small losses in theft may be cheaper overall. The slower approach to keeping the stand off the public road probably eliminates all of that though. I thought it impressive all around. You see the cows when you buy the milk.



That sounds awesome. I wish there was someone operating like this around here.

Not only is raw milk still illegal in Canada, dairy is a managed industry. Quota for the right to produce dairy products is not available, and when it is, it is at least a 7 digit expense..
 
Frank Spezzano
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Kate Downham wrote:Good questions. I wonder also if there's anything special to look for to find out how a cow would go on her own? Would she be ok with just people and other animals for company, or is a cow always happier with other cows for company? Does it depend on the temperament of the individual cow?

Butter is a big priority for my family. I wonder if this means we would be better off getting a higher butterfat breed, or choosing a breed based on which ones are more resilient here and just feeding the excess skim milk to pigs and chickens.



Kate, I suspect it depends on the cow, but you can probably pull it off with most cows. We kept our first steer for beef this year and had him on pasture with our pigs.  It took a couple weeks, but they ended up adopting each other.  Three pigs and a steer.  

We're planning on going with a Jersey, partly because she'll produce high butterfat milk.  If that's important to you, there are probably several breed options that produce well in that department and are also well-suited to your climate.  Then you can still feed the excess skim to the pigs and chickens.
 
Frank Spezzano
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Marco Banks wrote:Cows generally produce about 8 gallons of milk a day, depending on the breed.  That's about 70 lbs. of milk.  However some cows can produce as much as 15 or more gallons.  I read of a cow in Wisconsin that produced 23 gallons of milk a day.  Astounding.

A gallon of raw milk will have 1 to 1.5 pints of cream.  So an average cow would produce about 10 pints of cream a day, or 1.25 gallons of cream.  A quart of cream makes a pound of butter, so an average cow would produce about 5 pounds of butter a day.

A gallon of milk produces a pound of hard cheese, or two pounds of soft cheese.  Lets go with 1.5 pounds of cheese.  Thus, after you've separated the cream, you'd have a little under 7 gallons of milk to make cheese.  That would turn into a little over 10 lbs of cheese a day.

Final total from one cow:  5 lbs. of butter and 10 lbs. of cheese every day.

If you had a larger, more productive cow, or you drank a half gallon of that milk a day, you'd need to adjust those figures, but lets use them as our rough estimate.

365 days a year = 3650 lbs. of cheese and about 1500 lbs. of butter.  If you sold that cheese at $4 a lb., that would yield $14,600.  1500 lbs. of butter @ $5 a lb. = $7500.

Is it realistic that you'd make 22K a year by selling all that butter and cheese from one cow?  Butter is pretty simple to make, but cheese is a lot trickier.  But if you know what you are doing, you could make a lot more than $4 a lb.


Those are my rough calculations.  It doesn't factor in your time, the expense associated with making butter and cheese, storing it, transporting it and selling it, vet bills, buying feed, and a 1000 other unanticipated expenses.  But lets imagine that you cranked up the economies of scale and had 10 cows.  Could you make 10K on each cow, 100K a year?  A person could live very comfortably on that.



Thanks, Marco.  Helpful.  But go easy on the economies of scale.  I'm planning on milking by hand.  We'll start with one and maybe work up to two.

 
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Liv Smith wrote:This is my opinion, and I hope to not offend anyone, and is not meant to be a “this is the truth” post.

If you read her book, you know what she says, lovingly, about a dairy cow being THE most prized and useful animal a homestead can possibly have.

She will give you enough manure to grow a beautiful 1/2 acre vegetable garden every year, a calf to raise for your freezer every year, and enough milk to keep your family fed with butter, cream, cheese, milk, and other products like that. Depending on how big your family is, you might be able to use some of that milk to feed other creatures like chickens or pigs, and that just adds to the usefulness of it.

Not last on my list of benefits is their loving and calm demeanor, like having a big 1000 lbs dog walking around, just a many more times cuter and more useful. No offense to my dogs, love them very much for the work they do.

In terms of selling some of the milk, it depends a lot on your state law. If you live in Rhode Island, it seems raw milk sales are illegal, so not sure how you would go about that.

I could go on and on about how good it is to have a milk cow on your homestead, but the conclusion of my rambling would be you just can’t go wrong with having one, if you’re willing to put in the work it takes.

I have three myself, and they are the pride and joy of my life☺️.



Liz, Absolutely true.  And one of the best selling points of having a cow is that there are so many great selling points.  We keep pigs from spring through winter, have chickens and goats, and a dog and feral cat.  All of whom will gladly take part in milk consumption.  Just trying to give myself a better idea of parameters and possibilities for how to put the cream/milk to best use.  

You are correct in that you can't sell raw milk in Rhode Island.  I'm looking at possibly selling shares of the cow to interested families.
 
Frank Spezzano
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wayne fajkus wrote:I like Marco's details. In my area there is one farm selling raw milk. They get $8 a gallon($10 per quart of cream). Based on the stated 8 gallons a day, thats ruffly $23,000 a year (milk) without the hassle of making cheese and butter. Maybe the price is high, i can't speak for that. They have no competition for raw milk.

The local has built up clientel and has a fridge outside using the honor system. It's not on the roadside, more like inside their ranch. They added eggs and then added cheese. They don't make the cheese, they buy/consign from a local artisan cheese maker. That cheesemaker most likely buys their milk.



Thanks, Wayne.  We know of one family who goes to a neighboring state to purchase raw milk, and they pay $11 per gallon.  Even without charging so much, selling some of the milk would more than pay for feed and general expenses.  An added calculation is that the cow won't produce every day, all year.  She'll eventually need to be dried off in preparation for her new calf, and then not give milk for a while once she's calved.  Which is where the possibility of having a second dairy cow enters the picture.
 
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D Nikolls wrote:

That sounds awesome. I wish there was someone operating like this around here.

Not only is raw milk still illegal in Canada, dairy is a managed industry. Quota for the right to produce dairy products is not available, and when it is, it is at least a 7 digit expense..



Am I understanding you correctly, D?  It's illegal for you to have a family dairy cow?
 
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Frank Spezzano wrote:

D Nikolls wrote:

That sounds awesome. I wish there was someone operating like this around here.

Not only is raw milk still illegal in Canada, dairy is a managed industry. Quota for the right to produce dairy products is not available, and when it is, it is at least a 7 digit expense..



Am I understanding you correctly, D?  It's illegal for you to have a family dairy cow?



No, it's legal to have s milk cow, but you can't sell ANY dairy products.  The quota system means you have to buy quota for any milk you want to sell.  It's about $27,000 per cow with a 10 cow minimum in most or sll provinces.  You have to sell the milk to the dairy board unless you get set up and licensed to sell milk and/or milk products.  A farmer in Ontario tried the cow share angle several years ago.  

https://modernfarmer.com/2017/05/raw-story-canadian-farmer-fights-raw-milk/

I think that Canada has some of the most restricted farming in the world.  There are quotas or mandatory selling in dairy, eggs, chicken and grains.  
 
Liv Smith
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Frank Spezzano wrote:

You are correct in that you can't sell raw milk in Rhode Island.  I'm looking at possibly selling shares of the cow to interested families.



Yes, that’s what I’m doing at the moment, herdshares, until next year when I’ll start selling off the farm.

I am a member of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.  Highly recommend looking into that. They drafted my legal contracts for herdshares, and would be able to answer and even help with any legal issues/questions one might have. Very much worth the membership.

More of my opinion☺️, in terms of butterfat. No issue going with Jersey, the advantage being is a popular breed, you could probably find good stock easier, and the gene pool is larger. I find that, while  different qualities of different breeds are generally true, a lot differs from cow to cow in the same breed.

You could get a Jersey that only has 3.5% butterfat, or you could get one that is closer to 5%.

Much more important to me would be the age, demeanor, and health of the cow if I am to purchase one. How she was raised and how her life is like where she’s coming from. Disease tested, etc etc.

If I’d find one that scores high on all the things are important to me, breed would not be a concern. And sometimes crosses are regarded to be more resilient and healthy all around.

I have Guernseys myself, and they are hard to find, but I just love the way they look.

Ps: I sell my milk for $18/gallon.  Not selling any other dairy products.

 
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Timothy Markus wrote:

No, it's legal to have s milk cow, but you can't sell ANY dairy products.  



I have an idea, and it's gleaned from other clever people I read about. If it's illegal for a homesteader or small farmer to sell milk directly to a consumer, give it away for free, and have the consumer buy a $15 tomato for example. Maybe a tomato is a bad example for a northern climate like Canada, especially giving away milk in the winter time, but any other produce would work. Legally, they purchased the vegetable, and no money was exchanged for the milk.

I don't want to derail this conversation about cows, but I want to share where this idea comes from. Years ago, california passed a law making it illegal to sell foil gras. So, restaurants then gave it away for free with the purchase of a certain high priced entrees.
 
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James Freyr wrote:

Timothy Markus wrote:

No, it's legal to have s milk cow, but you can't sell ANY dairy products.  



I have an idea, and it's gleaned from other clever people I read about. If it's illegal for a homesteader or small farmer to sell milk directly to a consumer, give it away for free, and have the consumer buy a $15 tomato for example. Maybe a tomato is a bad example for a northern climate like Canada, especially giving away milk in the winter time, but any other produce would work. Legally, they purchased the vegetable, and no money was exchanged for the milk.

I don't want to derail this conversation about cows, but I want to share where this idea comes from. Years ago, california passed a law making it illegal to sell foil gras. So, restaurants then gave it away for free with the purchase of a certain high priced entrees.



Unfortunately, Canadian lawmakers are smart. It's illegal to GIVE raw milk to anyone off farm too. Same as non-inspected meat.

My grandparents were still farming when the quota system first came out for dairy - the promise was stablization of the market and guaranteed prices and a guaranteed market, but anyone could join, and there would be no cost to get quota. Now? You need a multimillion dollar investment just to get started in the dairy industry, chicken industry, or egg industry. It makes small scale farming an impossible proposition Thankfully they've removed quotas on wheat, I hope chicken and eggs are next (you can have and sell up to, I believe 100 meat chickens/year without quota, and up to 100 egg-chickens at a time?- OMG. Just checked and they raised the limit on meat birds in Ontario to 3000. There IS a hope for the industry). Sorry to derail this discussion !

edit: Back to the topic on hand, at least in Canada, the only economical use of a family dairy cow (unless you have a large family) I have seen is as a nurse cow to raise calves, taking enough milk for your family and using the remainder to raise a calf or calves for sale or slaughter.
 
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James Freyr wrote:
I have an idea, and it's gleaned from other clever people I read about. If it's illegal for a homesteader or small farmer to sell milk directly to a consumer, give it away for free, and have the consumer buy a $15 tomato for example. Maybe a tomato is a bad example for a northern climate like Canada, especially giving away milk in the winter time, but any other produce would work. Legally, they purchased the vegetable, and no money was exchanged for the milk.



In Ontario it's illegal to give it away, too.  Micheal Schmidt, the farmer in the article, set up a cow share that should have been legal and the Health Minister said raw milk should be legal, but Canada's multi-billion dollar quota system is at stake, so you're not going to win.  I think it may take a complete economic or social collapse to do away with the quota system.
 
James Freyr
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Catie George wrote:
Unfortunately, Canadian lawmakers are smart. It's illegal to GIVE raw milk to anyone off farm too. Same as non-inspected meat.



Dang, that sucks. Is it legal for an individual, or family, to own a cow and consume raw dairy for themselves?
 
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Let me ask another question coming from a different angle. What's the penalty if one gets caught?
 
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James Freyr wrote:

Dang, that sucks. Is it legal for an individual, or family, to own a cow and consume raw dairy for themselves?



Yep and yep.
 
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James Freyr wrote:Let me ask another question coming from a different angle. What's the penalty if one gets caught?



Possibly jail time.

https://business.financialpost.com/opinion/you-can-now-go-to-prison-in-canada-for-providing-raw-milk-seriously
 
James Freyr
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Timothy Markus wrote:

James Freyr wrote:

Dang, that sucks. Is it legal for an individual, or family, to own a cow and consume raw dairy for themselves?



Yep and yep.



I find this to be sad
 
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Liv Smith wrote:

Yes, that’s what I’m doing at the moment, herdshares, until next year when I’ll start selling off the farm.

I am a member of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.  Highly recommend looking into that. They drafted my legal contracts for herdshares, and would be able to answer and even help with any legal issues/questions one might have. Very much worth the membership.

More of my opinion☺️, in terms of butterfat. No issue going with Jersey, the advantage being is a popular breed, you could probably find good stock easier, and the gene pool is larger. I find that, while  different qualities of different breeds are generally true, a lot differs from cow to cow in the same breed.

You could get a Jersey that only has 3.5% butterfat, or you could get one that is closer to 5%.

Much more important to me would be the age, demeanor, and health of the cow if I am to purchase one. How she was raised and how her life is like where she’s coming from. Disease tested, etc etc.

If I’d find one that scores high on all the things are important to me, breed would not be a concern. And sometimes crosses are regarded to be more resilient and healthy all around.

I have Guernseys myself, and they are hard to find, but I just love the way they look.

Ps: I sell my milk for $18/gallon.  Not selling any other dairy products.



All good advice, Liv.  Thanks.  Would you test the milk of a prospective cow before purchase?  To estimate butterfat/quality?  I admit to being surprised at $18/gallon, but I'm a free market advocate, and freedom is a good thing.
 
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Frank Spezzano wrote:

D Nikolls wrote:

That sounds awesome. I wish there was someone operating like this around here.

Not only is raw milk still illegal in Canada, dairy is a managed industry. Quota for the right to produce dairy products is not available, and when it is, it is at least a 7 digit expense..



Am I understanding you correctly, D?  It's illegal for you to have a family dairy cow?



In practice, as long as you don't sell any dairy product you should be alright. Punches a bit of a hole in the economics of the thing though.

In theory quota is worth about 42,000 per cow in BC, but last I heard the waitlist has been closed since 2005.
 
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Frank Spezzano wrote:

All good advice, Liv.  Thanks.  Would you test the milk of a prospective cow before purchase?  To estimate butterfat/quality?  I admit to being surprised at $18/gallon, but I'm a free market advocate, and freedom is a good thing.



To me personally, how high the butterfat in her milk is, or how much protein (cheese yield related), would not be important. At one cow, or even three cow level, it won't make much difference. However, it is easy to test for milk components, and if you buy her from a dairy, they will alreay have that info (from DHIA records).

More important to me would be to know if she ever had mastitis, milk fever, and so on. I have a list of questions to ask a seller, I can post it if you need it. And what the answers mean, then you can make a good decision based on your preferences.

The $18/gallon doesn't paint the whole picture. Obviously there are costs associated with the producing of the milk. More important than the price per gallon is the question if the endeavor is profitable, or is just a sink hole. Where I am also, this price per gallon is a median, there are farms that sell it for more than this.
 
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I'd greatly appreciate it if you could post your list of cow questions, Liv.
 
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Good of you to offer, Liv.  Your list of questions would be appreciated.
 
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I remember in Idaho raw milk sales were illegal, but ads were posted regularly by family farms for "animal consumption".  So the ads were to the effect of "raw filtered milk, milked fresh every day, $6/gallon, great for bottle babies, etc."  Some people sold only frozen fresh milk, others fresh, and this method of advertising allowed people to find customers legally.  As long as you're not "selling for human consumption" you're not liable if they drink it.  
 
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Hi Frank;
I don't have much to add, but I wanted to mention a growing trend that you might want to investigate.
Jersey , brown swiss and Guernsey are the high fat milk producer's. They are also most likely to test positive for A-2 A-2
Do you know about A-2 A-2 milk versus A-1 milk ?   It is a huge market for people who know. People who are allergic to dairy can happily consume A-2 A-2 dairy products with no problems.
Here is a link to a post all about it. https://permies.com/t/55943  
If I was buying a cow. I would locate and purchase a certified A-2 cow , making sure there was an A-2 A-2 bull available to breed her. You won't be sorry. There is a growing market right now that you might be able to capitalize on.



 
Jen Fan
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thomas rubino wrote:Hi Frank;
I don't have much to add, but I wanted to mention a growing trend that you might want to investigate.
Jersey , brown swiss and Guernsey are the high fat milk producer's. They are also most likely to test positive for A-2 A-2
Do you know about A-2 A-2 milk versus A-1 milk ?   It is a huge market for people who know. People who are allergic to dairy can happily consume A-2 A-2 dairy products with no problems.
Here is a link to a post all about it. https://permies.com/t/55943  
If I was buying a cow. I would locate and purchase a certified A-2 cow , making sure there was an A-2 A-2 bull available to breed her. You won't be sorry. There is a growing market right now that you might be able to capitalize on.





Great points & info!  While there's still a LOT of fear culture around "raw milk" consumption, there's possibly an equally strong movement of people desiring raw, wholesome milk from a local supplier.  The people I've known who've had raw milk on hand (goat or cow) have had no trouble finding enthusiastic buyers; often families with multiple members allergic to certain forms of dairy.  When I had a milk goat I had no shortage of people enthusiastic about raw goat milk.

If we're discussing allergies, I would point out my observation about my own body; through much test and trial from multiple goats on multiple farms, I've learned that I can only tolerate milk from goats that were NOT fed commercial grains.  Goats that were fed "payback" or "sweetfeed" and things like that?  I'd react badly to the milk.  If they received no grain or only whole, unprocessed grains, or sprouted grains, I could drink milk and eat their cheese in any quantity with no ill effect.  I've tested this very thoroughly and found it true for my body.  I've never had a chance to test it on cow's milk though, only goat.  

But it's something to consider; do you want to be able to advertise the diet of your milking animal as something that may be even more beneficial or digestible?   Might be worth considering what you're going to feed.
 
thomas rubino
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Wow Jen; Very interesting about the feed making a difference! I've not heard that before.  
I do know that All goats and Sheep are A-2 A-2 positive!
Meyenberg goat butter and cheddar cheese are a staple at our home.  
We lost our local source of raw A-2 milk at home ($2.00 gal ! ) now we can buy 1/2 gal.of raw A-2  in Idaho for $5.00 or we can buy A-2 corporation homogenized / pasteurized milk at several grocery chains for $5.00 gal.
We buy both. The raw milk is for butter / cheese and icy cold drinking.   The A-2 corp. milk lasts a long while and we use it for cooking.
 
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Here is a list, not exhaustive by any means, but maybe it will inspire new questions of your own.

Maybe for those questions that you guys need more clarification, we can discuss them one by one.

Some questions could be a deal breaker, like the diseases, but most are not, just good to know. And of course, most of these don't apply to a heifer.



Registered? Name
What is her temperament? Is she friendly, timid?
Any known problems?
Ever had mastitis?
Milk fever?
Ketosis?
How many calves before?
Halterbroke?
Any suplements, minerals, vitamins, medicines she is on?
Has she been tested for any diseases? Johne's, BDV, BLV, TB, Brucellosis, Q Fever
Has her milk been tested for protein beta casein A? what kind is she
Has her milk ever been tested
Horns?
Did she come from a dairy as a cow or calf?  Did you raise her?
How long have you owned her?
Does she have to be milked in a stanchion?  Can she be tied
Hand milk or machine? Teat length etc?
Does she keep condition?
What does she eat?  What kind of hay, grain etc and how much grain is she getting?
Have her hooves ever been trimmed?
Has she ever nursed her calves?
Is she fresh? How long?
Is she bred now?  
How much milk is she giving?
Any problems birthing?  Ever?
 
Frank Spezzano
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Jen Fan wrote:I remember in Idaho raw milk sales were illegal, but ads were posted regularly by family farms for "animal consumption".  So the ads were to the effect of "raw filtered milk, milked fresh every day, $6/gallon, great for bottle babies, etc."  Some people sold only frozen fresh milk, others fresh, and this method of advertising allowed people to find customers legally.  As long as you're not "selling for human consumption" you're not liable if they drink it.  



Sounds like a good way to do it.  There was a link in the Modern Farmer story that Timothy posted, that had a raw milk chart of the States at farmtoconsumer.org .  Looks like herdshare is not illegal in RI.  Nor is raw milk for pets.  Seems tragically comic that in a time when we put so much emphasis on science, that decisions like this seem to be made on emotion.
 
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thomas rubino wrote:
Jersey , brown swiss and Guernsey are the high fat milk producer's. They are also most likely to test positive for A-2 A-2



I've read a bit about it, Thomas.  Thanks for mentioning it.  I'll definitely be looking for an A2/A2 cow.
 
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Jen Fan wrote:

But it's something to consider; do you want to be able to advertise the diet of your milking animal as something that may be even more beneficial or digestible?   Might be worth considering what you're going to feed.



Excellent point, Jen.
 
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Liv Smith wrote:Here is a list, not exhaustive by any means, but maybe it will inspire new questions of your own.



Extremely helpful, Liv.  The voice of experience.  Thanks.
 
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I have heard you can "give away" A2/A2 raw cows milk as "animal feed" or "compost".
 
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I think milk and butter should be the main focus, since cheese would need at least three things at minimum: time, space and labor. Most cheeses are aged at least a short period of time which is where space comes in. they also often need certain humidity and temperature ranges -- nothing extravagant, but not exactly unheated/climate controlled space. In my mind, ideally this would be a root cellar like fixture. if you used earth walls it would even be nearly free, except for labor. Time would be the aging time, anywhere from a few weeks to over a year for the sharpest of cheddar. Labor, because the cheese makes more effort than just milking (would apply to butter as well.)

I looked into having a dairy at one time. I will say it is worth reading the requirements on a grade A dairy, if only to see the reasoning behind what they do. My grandparents remember a time when catching tuberculosis form milk was a reality, so I would be willing to err on the side of caution as much as possible for animal/area cleanliness. On pasteurization, I won't say should or shouldn't, but if you need to do so to sell it, they do make 'better' alternatives, like low heat (https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food-safety/article/low-temperature-pasteurized-milk). I saw a 7 gallon pasteurizer that was about $1,700. pricey, but if its a needed expense... I would say to let your fingers do some of the walking and check out places that are already doing it. this website might be useful: https://www.microdairydesigns.com/. Looking at their cheese area, it is a little bare. I was looking at 'tilting kettles' for small but not micro dairying. for micro, normal pots could probably suffice but you would still need presses and forms for the cheese.

It also might be worth it to check out nearby farmers markets to gauge interest or see if anyone is selling milk. even if it isn't a 1:1 comparison, it'd be a starting point.

Feed costs for dairy cattle are higher than normal cattle, since they need concentrate and alfalfa. delivery time period can vary, especially if you need to empty the bulk tank on a certain schedule. To that extent, having a small fridge and milk containers so you can drain it would be useful. They still sell glass bottles, which would be nostalgic for many, and could be easily sterilized in a pressure cooker (autoclaves are just pressure cookers with extra gauges) if normal washing isn't 'enough'.

you could also sell milk for soap-making -- very popular for goat milk I know. Excess milk that isn't made into cheese can also be frozen to be used in soap later.

Having a cow is pretty much endless possibilities. I would recommend getting a dual-purpose cow, however, especially if it's an endangered breed. https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage
 
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Liv Smith wrote:

Yes, that’s what I’m doing at the moment, herdshares, until next year when I’ll start selling off the farm.

I am a member of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.  Highly recommend looking into that. They drafted my legal contracts for herdshares, and would be able to answer and even help with any legal issues/questions one might have. Very much worth the membership.





Great reference, Liv.  Much appreciated.  I looked at their website and the FCLDF looks like an invaluable resource.  Planning to join as a "Farmer".  
 
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Morgwino Stur wrote: this website might be useful: https://www.microdairydesigns.com/.
Having a cow is pretty much endless possibilities. I would recommend getting a dual-purpose cow, however, especially if it's an endangered breed. https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage



Thanks, Morgwino.  Micro Dairy looks like a good resource.  Who knew?  I agree with you on prioritizing milk and butter, but the temptation is definitely there to try yogurts and cheeses.  All in good time, hopefully.
 
thomas rubino
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Hi john;  I've dabbled  in making cheese. It's great fun but can be very frustrating as well. It can mold , it can be sour . I've thrown out more homemade cheese than we have eaten. But I have had success as well.
To start it takes time, if you want a cheddar it takes a lot of time.  Cooking temps must be followed exactly.
Storage while aging is the hardest part.A refrigerator will work but it is to cool . Also you quickly run out of room (with a wife this happens VERY fast). A root cellar is much better, not many have this option but a cave is the very best place.

I do have a cheese storage area.  3 55 gallon barrels welded together (no tops or bottoms) buried thru the floor of my shop.
This arrangement was not placed as a root cellar but as a place to put a shop floor lift!  Needless to say I did not put in the floor lift and have this really good root cellar. Always above freezing and higher humidity! Perfect to age cheeses.

Once you have your cow, and you start having excess milk then give cheese a go!  Nothing like serving cheese YOU made to your dinner guests!

One note , if you start having milk spoil on you. Locate piggys... they LOVE spoiled  clotted milk!  And they grow fat quickly !  Raise 2 or 3 yourself or just find someone else raising them. It is much better to feed it to piggys than dumping it out. Maybe the pig farmer might even give you some chops for your spoiled milk!
 
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