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one cow milk system?

 
Barry leonode
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I am a budding new homesteader and was wondering if it is possible to get milk from a cow that had never been pregnant? I've heard that as a result of breeding that dairy cows produce milk without needing to give birth, but I would like to complicate the matter by having a beef cow.

I would be very grateful to hear your opinions on this matter as a cow is fundamental to my aspirations of having a biodynamic homestead but do not yet have the capacity for more than one cow.
 
Kelly Smith
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Barry leonode wrote:I am a budding new homesteader and was wondering if it is possible to get milk from a cow that had never been pregnant? I've heard that as a result of breeding that dairy cows produce milk without needing to give birth, but I would like to complicate the matter by having a beef cow.

I would be very grateful to hear your opinions on this matter as a cow is fundamental to my aspirations of having a biodynamic homestead but do not yet have the capacity for more than one cow.


a cow, any cow, must have a baby to start producing milk

milking a beef cow could work, but i havent heard of anyone doing it. those cows are generally a lot more stand offish than dairy cows.

you could get a dairy cow, get her pregnant by an angus bull and plan to eat the offspring though.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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When I was growing up, we always milked beef cows. Even a single beef cow produced more milk than a family of 15 could use. We got them from the range, so they were more skittish than cows that have always been in close proximity to humans, but easy enough to work with. A bribe of grain, and relief of udder pressure work wonders for taming a cow. Calves are easy to sell.
 
Raye Beasley
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As previously stated, cows must be bred to produce milk. You probably heard about cows not being bred after the first calf and still milking. You can drag milking on for way past the usual time if you only need a few cups to maybe a quart. Eventually though, it gets so it really isn't worth the trouble. It doesn't make sense to forgo the meat from the calf and all the butter and cheese you could be making with a yearly bred cow or get some chickens/pig and feed the extra unwanted milk to them.

Also, when I was growing up, we had a Holstein milk cow. It was open range and what ever bull she could find was the daddy; it was either Angus or Herford in those days. We ate the boys and milked the girls.

Two weeks ago, I had an Angus cow lose her calf during birth. Since none of my four Jerseys are currently milking, I got that old girl in the chute. It took a few hours of kick the can, but she got milked and I have lived to tell about it. My beef cows are not pets like the dairy cows. Today, she comes running like a pro with the Jerseys for a bit of a treat and milking. Her milk is very white and not much cream so the milk isn't much good for butter, but she gives around 3 gallons a day. My Jerseys are good for 3 gallons plus feeding a calf. This is a grass fed girl with only around 2 cups of grain so I don't have to go fetch her for milking.
 
Andy Moffatt
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There are dual purpose cattle breeds, highlands spring to mind. The calf will rely on mums milk to start with and you can wean them quite quickly and sell the calf
 
Angie O'Connor
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You can definitely milk a beef cow. In many ways I would recommend it more than a dairy cow for a first time milker. Much less metabolic issues, generally less milk, easier keepers and all around hardier animals and you can make a better profit off calves if you sell, or get good beef if you butcher them. And while many beef girls can be a bit more standoffish than dairy, that doesn't mean they're mean. Usually it's just a result of less handling than dairy girls and they will quickly quiet down and get in the routine. BUT beef girls are not known for prolonged lactations like dairy cows. While dairy cattle can easily go 10 months in a lactation, and some go years, most beef girls will start dropping production at 7 - 8 months and are masters at drying themselves up, especially after you wean their calf. It would be doubtful you'd get an extended lactation from even a dual purpose breed so you'd be required to breed every year. With a dairy you could push off breeding to every year and a half - two years and probably still have decent milk production.

All of this would depend upon how much milk you do need as well, and your planned management for the cow. Separating cow and calf at night, for instance, should still gain you a gallon or two from a good producing beef lady in the morning.
 
Wes Hunter
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I read somewhere (Newman Turner maybe?) a while back about a process known as "steaming up" in which a cow, through feeding of high-protein feeds, could be milked for perhaps a week or so before calving. As might be expected, this is no good for the cow's health. Regardless, a bred cow is the first step.

A dual-purpose cow would be great, but of course you can still eat the meat from a dairy calf.

As to a single beef cow producing more milk than a 15-person family can consume, I wouldn't count on it. But maybe we just go through a lot more milk than most.
 
Andy Moffatt
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Ever consider goats instead?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Our cow produced about 4 gallons of milk per day. Relentlessly. Day after day after day. We fed milk to the cats, dogs, and pigs. We gave it away. We made whipped cream, butter, curds, ice-cream, and cheese. We could have made more cheese. It's hard to raise a big family and make cheese routinely. Ice cream was a good way to use up the extra eggs, and gave the kids a task to keep them out from underfoot for an hour or so.

 
wayne fajkus
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We had a sheep that had a false pregnancy. We didn't have a ram. Her udder was full and after 2 visits to the vet she died. It's medically possible, but not desirable
 
Travis Johnson
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I think your thoughts are kind of backwards. Instead of trying to have both a dairy cow and a beef cow, just choose the dairy cow.

In national taste tests, Jersey has won 7 years in a row with Holstein coming in second. Milking breeds produce really good, well marbeled meat that tastes really well, its just that they have heavy bone structure, and so in a feedlot situation, or out on range, the beef breeds do better on conversion of grain/grass to red meat. In many areas where dairy farms flourish, many beef operations rely on getting Holstein Bull Calves and raising them to full size for slaughter. They make money because a bull calf is so inexpensive to purchase. The ones on our dairy farm sometimes fetch as little as $10 and we have sold hundreds to homesteaders over the years who raise the little bull calves as food for themselves; myself included.

Nationally speaking, about 12% of the hamburg or steak you buy in the store is Holstein because that is where dairy cows ultimately end up at the end of their life.

One reason dairy cow beef has a bad reputation is because they tend to be killed when they are declining in health. That was the beef I grew up on...yuck! The tastiest beef is beef where the animal is healthy not stressed because it is about to die. So a healthy jersey bull raised to full weight and slaughtered would taste delicious! I say Jersey for only one reason; with our Holstein's pumping out 140 pounds a day or so, what on earth would a homesteader do with 17 gallons of milk a day? A jersey only gives a few gallons per day and the butterfat content is higher to boot.

One more good point about using a dairy cow breed; most vets or even neighbors can artificially inseminate them for you so that you won't have the issue of obtaining a bull to do the dirty work.

One more piece of advice; castrate the bull calf if you get a Jersey Bull, they are exceptionally mean when they get older.

Black Angus is NOT the best tasting beef out there; they just have such a great marketing strategy that they have convinced most of America they are.
 
Wes Hunter
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If you don't want to castrate a bull calf, butcher him as the cow dries off for some delicious veal. No calf to overwinter is a bonus.
 
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