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Getting a cow

 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 706
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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A friend of us has land and wanted to put some alpacas on it. So we said how about a cow - we buy the cow you give the land? He said get that cow.
But first we must find out if he really wants that cow. The land is suitable at least 3 acres of grassland with some trees. Fences need some repair.
I have some questions:
Does a cow accept being milked by different people (we think on getting at least another person in)?
Wouldn't the cow be very alone - how much land would you need to give her a second cow (but then there is too much milk)? Does a cow likes a sheep as companion?
Does a cow damages the property it is something quite neat.
What is the smallest milk cow? Neighbours there have steers but they are not very approachable and these steers are black and HUGE, so wouldn't a small cow have problems with an enormous calf?
I often pick up horse manure from a paddock, is this easily done with cow manure (another stupid question)? Does a cow like to walk on a lead in case there is not enough grass and are kids able to handle a cow (the kids are sort of able to handle the sheep, but the sheep likes cabbage and has a brilliant memory).
 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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hi Angelika

i wont be able to answer all your questions, but i will give some input where i can

our cow will allow others to milk her, although she would prefer the "normal" milkers, as cows are very much creatures of routine. if you plan to have others milk her, it would help greatly if those people are around the cow more often then just milking. i have noticed that our cow is much more anxious when new people show up, but after having seen them a few days in a row she doesnt seem to mind as much. this doesnt even get into the learning curve of actually hand milking...
a milk machine would also help here. if you can get the cow ok with a machine, she will generally not care who is attaching.

cows are herd animals, for sure. we havent noticed anything odd about our cow when she is alone. seems as long as she has plenty of forage she is happy. of course we are out there daily, so i have had people tell us at this point she thinks we are part of her herd
i would like more info on cow companions also. i think another ruminant would be good, one preferably that eats differently than a cow. i have heard someone mention having large ruminants, small ruminants and birds as being the best combo for soil building.
our cow hasnt damaged any of our property. although i will say she is rough on things.... we use a black and white poly wire with a good pop, so she respects the fences pretty well (so well i have left the fence off for weeks on end and she doesnt get out)
i am not sure which is the smallest cows. i think jersey seems to be the smallest, and there are even some mini jerseys out there. as for calving, it isnt out of the ordinary for dairy cows to be bred to a beef breed. around here the dairies breed with angus, as the angus have lower birth weights (but grow faster than a dairy cow) which makes it easier for the momma cow to birth.
we also pick up manure from our "sacrifice area", and as long as the cow has a healthy diet, the poop is easily managed. if you cant pick up the pow pies with a stall fork (durafork) then something is wrong (imo).
a cow can be trained to walk on a lead, although im not sure i would allow a kid to lead a full sized cow. alot of this will depend on why you are leading the cow..... for instance. if a kid wanted to walk my cow in from the pasture to the milk barm, all the kid would need to do is call the cow, make some arm motions and the cow would follow. now if you want to walk the cow into the trailer to be taken to the vet, that is a different story. this answer is gonna depend on the cow and the kid.


hope this helps
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 706
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Thanks for the input. The problem here is that the property is away from our house. And the guy who owns the property is not always there. So the cow would be alone.
For the milking I would think of a fixed roster Say three people.
Actually you are right with the kids, our kids handle the sheep which is clearly visible on our very short peas and the missing broccoli....
How much milk does a cow give when you milk her once a day?
 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Angelika Maier wrote:
How much milk does a cow give when you milk her once a day?


i cant say 100%, as i havent gotten there, but from what ive read, production will drop a bit, but not much.
we are currently getting ~3.5g per day with TAD milking. i suspect we will be getting ~3g per day once we go to OAD milking.
im planning on starting OAD milking this weekend, so i should have more info in a few weeks.

hope that helps.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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3 gallons That is a lot of stuff something like 12 liters. I actually don't know how much milk we would use making cheese butter and cream.
How is the rough conversion for one pound of each?
Maybe we should get a "low profile" cow??
 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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3 gallons ( ~13-14 liters) is not that much to me about 2.5 months ago we were getting ~4.5-5g a day!

i am not sure how much 1g of milk converts into cheese or butter, but remember that even when making other products, there are still "waste" products that can be used. if you make butter, the stuff that isnt butter, is buttermilk. when you make cheese, the byproduct of whey is useful.. we feed it to our chickens.

i think you would have to have a pretty large family to be able to use all of the milk from 1 cow.
we drink ~4g of milk a week and also eat a lot of yogurt and we still have PLENTY of milk left over. we have ~14 people we share milk with and we STILL have more than we can use.
i would say that if you want to own a dairy cow, you should be thinking of ways to use the milk now! we have taken to freezing our milk so we have milk in the winter

if you are looking for less milk, maybe a goat or 2 would be a better fit?
fencing needs to be a bit better, but goats eat less, are a bit easier to handle; although they do produce less milk (not a bad thing in your case)

 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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One good (not great, just good) cow can keep a family of 10-12 in milk and butter if you are only drinking it. If you eat a lot of cold cereal or go Paula Dean with butter, then it is going to be cutting it close.

How much cheese and butter you get depends a LOT on the cow and diet. We have had one cow that took twice as much milk to get the same amount of cheese as the others, when on the same diet. Her milk was still well above anything you could get in a store, but was water compared to the others. She gave twice as much so it kind of evened out but goes to show you need to count more than just quantity.

The biggest deal to making life easy is getting a balance between the milk coming in and how you deal with it--being able to take one milking directly to making a batch of cheese is nice (no chilling then rewarming) but to make a decent wheel of cheese to age takes several gallons.
 
Kris Arbanas
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Location: PNW
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If you are looking for something with less milk production and smaller, check out Dexters
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Thanks for all the input! Yes I like cheese, yoghurt, butter and cooking with nice cream, but we're not milk drinkers, buttermilk yes.
I will look for dexters.
 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Kelly Smith wrote:
Angelika Maier wrote:
How much milk does a cow give when you milk her once a day?


i cant say 100%, as i havent gotten there, but from what ive read, production will drop a bit, but not much.
we are currently getting ~3.5g per day with TAD milking. i suspect we will be getting ~3g per day once we go to OAD milking.
im planning on starting OAD milking this weekend, so i should have more info in a few weeks.

hope that helps.


just a quick update.

we went from ~3.5g a day on TAD milking
to
~2.5g a day on OAD milking

and i have my evenings back


she calved ~6months ago.
hope this helps.
 
richard valley
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Location: Sierra Nevada mountain valley CA, & Nevada high desert
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Angelika, Miniature Jerseys can be the way to go. These cows are not large, easy to handle, eat less than larger breeds, and can be very devoted to a family. Your location: cool climate, is that in the US of A?

Our girls raise Miniature Jerseys and Belfair { that's a cross between Miniature Jersey and Dexter}

RE: Location of your cow, away from your home. Would you be visiting your cow daily?

Have a great day?

Richard
 
Jack Edmondson
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Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Kris Arbanas wrote:If you are looking for something with less milk production and smaller, check out Dexters


Angelica,

A smaller cow or cows, since three acres could support a pair of smaller cows (they are herd animals after all) rather than a lone cow.; might be a good solution for your project. The Dexters above are a good choice. They are smaller, more docile, easier to handle and produce a high quality milk. They also do well on straight pasture rather than a grain ration, as most milk cow breeds get in a dairy situation. Since you won't be there to feed and handle daily, I would look for a breed that is hardy and an easy keeper. Dexters fit that bill.

The production numbers you read need to take into account that those numbers come from dairy operations that do feed and intensely manage stock. A homestead variety might be much more realistic and still give you competitive production. A single Jersey (stress) on a straight forage diet (stress) is not going to produce the same 5 gallons of milk it would in an intensely managed dairy operation. Your not going to get that 5 gallons a day they are known to produce. A pair of Dexters producing 1.5 gallons on graze alone, might be a comparable solution with less headache.

Things to add into your decision matrix.
 
C. Hunter
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A question for the experienced dairy folks - I know that a number of my friends who have goats feed the goat's only grain ration (it doesn't make up much of their diet) while the goat is on the milking stand as part of their normal routine. Is that something that is done with dairy cows in a household-milker type situation? Would that small amount of grain that a cow can consume during milking be a significant amount of their diet that you'd want to factor in with a pasture situation like this?
 
Adam Klaus
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C. Hunter wrote:A question for the experienced dairy folks - I know that a number of my friends who have goats feed the goat's only grain ration (it doesn't make up much of their diet) while the goat is on the milking stand as part of their normal routine. Is that something that is done with dairy cows in a household-milker type situation? Would that small amount of grain that a cow can consume during milking be a significant amount of their diet that you'd want to factor in with a pasture situation like this?


Any grain fed to a cow severely disrupts the pH and bacterial composition of the cow's rumen. This results in an acidified body condition, which encourages elevated levels of bacteria in the cow. In turn, the somatic cell count of her milk will rise, resulting in lower quality milk.

This is why the best cattlemen are 100% grass fed. Even 1% grain significantly disrupts the cow's system, and the resulting milk and meat she produces is much less healthy for human consumption.

So bottom line is, for both the health of the cows, and the health of the people consuming their milk and meat, 100% grass fed is the only way to farm.

Good luck!
 
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