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single-cow economics

 
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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.  



It is legal to operate a raw milk dairy in Idaho under the small producer rules. You can milk up to 3 cows or 5 sheep/goats and even sell through commercial outlets. You must be licensed by the state and samples of your milk are collected and examined for bacterial count. Herd shares (leasing a part of a cow for a lactation) are also licensed. All dairy animals used under commercial license must be tested annually for TB and Brucellosis - the whole herd must be tested, not just the ones you are milking under license.

Milk here sells for $10 per gallon. Colostrum sells for $25 per gallon to beef farmers who keep a frozen stock in case they lose a cow, or she rejects the calf.

If you like keeping cows, a raw milk dairy is a modest profit maker.  By my calculations, raising cow/calf pairs is break even at best.

My farm insurance will not cover the liability of selling raw milk. If anyone finds an insurance company that will accept the risk, please let me know.
 
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Cows need to be bred and calf yearly to stay in milk. Milking stops 60 days before calving to rebuild the cows resources. Cows are a herd animal and do better with company, even another specie. Milking has to be done daily, usually 12 hours apart. Missed milkings, poor food, injury reduces milk. Hand milking is tough on the hands and leads to swollen, arthritic hands. Think about a home milking machine, it's at least twice as fast.
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I have some doubts about using a milking machine on a small scale:

Firstly there is the cleaning involved - it probably takes less time to milk one or two cows by hand than it does to clean a milking machine.

Secondly there is the risk of udder problems if it's used incorrectly or left on for too long.
 
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Kate Downham wrote:I have some doubts about using a milking machine on a small scale:

Firstly there is the cleaning involved - it probably takes less time to milk one or two cows by hand than it does to clean a milking machine.

Secondly there is the risk of udder problems if it's used incorrectly or left on for too long.



I was thinking the same thing.  For one or two cows, there's probably not much time saved, if any.  Which make it an unnecessary investment.  Plus, I'm looking forward to small-scale hand milking.

Now if we're talking about several more cows than this that need twice daily milking by one person, then I can see the allure of the machine.
 
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