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Posts: 14
Location: Stokesdale, NC
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Can a single dexter milking cow be "pastured" on 0.18 acres of healthy grassland? How much Hay supplementation will be needed and other nutrients?
 
pollinator
Posts: 2279
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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That depends on the details. But as the average minimum in a temperate climate for even the miniature cattle, of which I think certain strains of dexter are, is on the order of a half-acre, and you're talking about less than half that, I would say that the supplementation would be heavy, even on the most amazingly permaculturally-enhanced polycultural super pasture. You would lack the space to properly paddock your pasturage, meaning that you'd have no control over letting areas regenerate after a grazing.

What are the dimensions of the space? I mean, it's not tiny. If one side is 100ft, that would put another at around what, 78 feet, maybe a little more, assuming something vaguely squarish? So lets say you had 10 paddocks, 10 feet by 78 feet. How long a paddock is grazed depends on how lush the pasture is. Would it take one day? Two? Three? I would think as soon as you see the cow eating more supplemental feed than grazing, it would be time to move. But let's say two days. So each paddock would get an 18-day regenerative break. How many grasses grow, if not to maturity, then to nutritionally relevant grazeability in 18 days, including germination?

Also, cows are herd animals. You can keep them singly, but it is cruel. So either you're talking about keeping two cows on 0.18 acres, or you're talking about a socially deprived animal.

I don't know your exact situation, and some details would be nice to be able to tailor advice, but on that scale, the largest animal I would look to keep would be two goats, and that, because they're browsers and not grazers, would be tricky for other reasons.

So could it be done? Sure. Should it, and would it be worth the cost? I don't think so.

-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Chris Kott wrote:

Also, cows are herd animals. You can keep them singly, but it is cruel. So either you're talking about keeping two cows on 0.18 acres, or you're talking about a socially deprived animal.

-CK



Exactly.
 
Alex Hofacker
Posts: 14
Location: Stokesdale, NC
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yeah the socialization issue was something I was worried about. I definitely dont want a deprived animal socially. I typically always follow by the buddy system when it comes to animals, but I had heard a few stories of people keeping single cows for extended periods of time, so I thought I would ask. But thats why tgis forum is a great tool, you can ask people with more experience. Thanks guys.
 
Posts: 26
Location: Douglas County, WI zone 4a 105 acres
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Newbie question about cow and calf pair.  I've seen some for sale on craigslist at what seem like reasonable prices.  But, we have TOO much land and basically no reliable fencing yet.  We've got nearly 60 acres of pasture that hasn't been grazed for 12-15 years.   We want to have a "milker" but not planning on raising beef other than for ourselves.  We do want to rotationally graze pigs on a smallish scale and figure the start-up cost for that fencing is gonna be all we can afford for a while.  My son only bought the place last June; got stuck on re-habbing the old house (always more to do than you plan); and now the house has burned to the ground last month - nobody or animals were hurt, but he lost all the new solar batteries, electronics, and expensive appliances!   Sooo, we're gonna be pushed back even longer and starting up in a more "higgledy-piggledy" way than we hoped.
I was wondering if it was possible to "stake-out" a cow and move her periodically.  Would the calf stay with her - would we have to bring them to shelter from summer rains in N. Wisconsin, etc, etc.  ANY and all advice/suggestions will be highly appreciated!
 
Chris Kott
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Staking out of cattle is possible, as long as it's monitored. It also needs to be done in such a way that there's no possibility of the cow winding its tether around something, like the sun shelter you will probably have to provide if it's out in the open, and becoming stuck.

As to the calf, it will probably remain with the mother, but again, it's not a thing you want to leave to chance. You want to be able to monitor their activity. In staking them out, and in having a lone cow out with her lone calf, you will have both eliminated the safest part of her safety blanket, that being the safety-in-numbers part of a herd, and her ability to run away from or trample threats.

Tethering will only work well if you monitor the animals' activities constantly. Leaving them untended, where you couldn't hear sounds of distress, or couldn't get to them in time, is a bad idea right off, and depending on the specifics of your situation, might not be a good idea at all.

Yes, it has been done forever, and continues to be done all over the world, but I don't believe it reflects permacultural, or even humane, best practices.

-CK
 
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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It sounds like you have room for a couple miniature goats. Maybe chickens instead.
 
Mary Beth Alexander
Posts: 26
Location: Douglas County, WI zone 4a 105 acres
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Wasn't planning on putting them at back of 60 acres and knew I'd have to make a swivvel and check 2X day, but am so crazed by this latest setback, that I didn't even consider NIGHT, CK! We do have bears. Was only planning on very temporary - glad I asked - thinking now about how to add in a "safe" shelter.
 
pollinator
Posts: 249
Location: Denmark 57N
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Temporary electric fencing and a solar charger would work for your cow and calf, it is not expensive and so long as you are prepared to move it every couple of days it doens't need to be round a very large area.

As to the OP No that small an area will turn to mud or dust depending on your climate. You can of course turn it into concrete and feed rations. In my climate (mild oceanic) I wouldn't consider a cow/calf pair on less than an acre, even then they would need supplements and all bought hay in winter.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Something like this can be a good temporary measure, when the goal is to build soil on a small area. My brother kept several horses on a small plot of mostly rock. After about 5 years of bringing in purchased hay and grain, he had enough soil to grow a garden and to provide the horses with some of their own grazing. If one horse was just allowed to roam his 2 acres of half trees and half grass, I think they could survive the spring summer and fall. He would still need to provide winter feed.

I have witnessed various versions of this overstocking, for a long time. In a few cases, something positive came out of it. Most of them, simply allowed their animals to eat the landscape down to the dirt.
 
Alex Hofacker
Posts: 14
Location: Stokesdale, NC
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I know I definitely wouldny have let it get that bad. Animal welfare is definitely something thats important to me. I just wanted to see if it was even feasible.
 
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