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goats and cows - which is the more efficient milk maker?

 
                                  
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I'm not going to pretend to be a dairy cow expert cause I'm faaaaar from it.  But I'd like to share the numbers I've come up with regarding what our particular cow eats and expends in a day.  It'd be cool if someone could calculate similar numbers with their goat/s.  I'm just curious.  Nothing to prove. 

Our cow eats 8 pounds of rolled oats and 8 pounds of rolled barley a day, topped with a cup of molasses (this all is divided between two feedings).  According to what I could find online, this means she eats about 15,000 calories a day in grain and molasses. 

We make our own grain mixture so that she gets organic molasses and no corn, which would be GMO and which cows can't seem to digest very well anyway (according to what we saw in her manure).  She also eats a great big pile of hay or grass.  I'm assuming that if our grass had more sugar in it we'd need to feed her less grain.  I'm assuming that if she had different genetics she'd need to eat less grain.  But....that's for a different thread probably. 

Our cow (in her fifth month of lactation - she peaked at 9 gallons) is making 7 gallons of milk a day, and as far as I could figure this is 17,000 calories a day. 

Since she's Jersey, her milk has a much higher fat content than the regular commercial breed of cow (like double or more), and I would assume this means a gallon of her milk actually has MORE caloric density than the numbers I could come up with, but, whatever.  Close enough for the sake of this exercise. 

I was wondering how many goats a person would have to keep to get 7 gallons a day, and how much grain those goats would eat in order to do that.  When I stayed at farms with goats, the ladies always got a scoop of grain or two during milkings.  And from what I could tell, a good goat will make about a gallon a day? 

Anyway, if someone with lots more experience with goats would like to do the math, I'd love to compare. 

I got to thinking about how much a dairy animal eats and how much she produces - who she feeds.  There's a lot of griping about the grain consumption of dairy animals, so I began analyzing how much human food she gobbles up, and how much human food she creates.  I see her ability to get a lot of energy from things we can't digest as the miracle that dairy animals perform for us - they are grass/forage fermentation vats with legs and personalities. 

Our cow provides milk twice a week for about 10-15 households in our community, plus keeping her calf, her human slaves, the chickens, pigs, and dogs very well fed at our place.  We have much love for Dolly! 
 
Brice Moss
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
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I n the other hand could find no use for gallons of milk a day

but my lil nigerian dwarf doe gives me a pound of milk for a pound of grain every day and is feeding her own babies.

in a couple months I'll have two milking at once and enough milk to do an occasional batch cheese without having more than I can use up

nine goats are grazing on an acre and I still have to mow  a little in sumer time,

but I'd spend less time and effort keeping the fence tight for cows

 
Anna Carter
Posts: 66
Location: Lacey, Wa
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Good full-sized goat should produce a gallon, if not more. I've got Nigerian dwarfs myself. Still stuck in the suburbs, so they are fed straight alfalfa hay and weeds from the garden, but I've stopped giving grain. My girl gives a quart a day, and she probably eats about a leaf of hay a day.
 
                                  
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A single cow, I've learned, is a small scale dairy.  That's why we share her abundance with others in our immediate area.  The boarding fees people pay us to keep the community cow alive mean that we personally don't pay for any of her feed, and that makes keeping a dairy animal a lot more financially sustainable for us.  

We could have a goat and have only enough milk for us.  But we'd have to buy a lot more feed for the rest of the animals we keep, and we'd have to pay for what the goat ate as well.  Looked at in that light, having an extreme over-abundance of milk is a really good thing.  

A pound of milk is two fluid ounces.  So, to use Brice Mosses feed conversion ratio -- if we were getting a pound of milk per pound of grain from our cow, we'd be getting 4 gallons of milk a day.  Right?  Do you know how much the kids are eating?  Or do they have free udder access and you milk dry twice, with the pound of grain for a pound of milk being your take?  

We bottle feed our calf, so we always know exactly how much she's producing.  Her calf alone takes care of two of those seven gallons. 

And with no grain, clarkai's goat makes a quart a day.  Do you worry about ketosis?  Our cow immediately goes into ketosis if we feed even a pound less grain.  We've had a very hard learning curve about cow nutrition the last five months.  sigh. 
 
Anna Carter
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Location: Lacey, Wa
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We haven't had any problem at all with ketosis- and I in fact got the idea from reading another goat keeper's site, where they said they didn't feed grain at all.

If you don't mind me asking, what all are you feeding the cow, out of curiosity?  I also milked a dexter cow when I was a kid, and I don't think she got grain either. Perhaps dual purpose breeds are not producing the prodigious amounts that a dairy breed would and thus have an easier time getting the calories they need from forage and hay? My little dexter gave a gallon a day, and she was about 32 inches tall, if I remember.
 
                                  
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She gets about a bale and a half of hay twice a day.  Oat or barley hay, grass alfalfa mix, and straight alfalfa.  All horse quality, green, sweet smelling really nice stuff.  What she doesn't eat we give to her calf and the heifer.  We've been getting nice yellow butter all winter.

We didn't know anything about this cow (and very little about dairy cows in general) when we bought her, she's a retired dairy animal.  Several people told us that we wouldn't need to feed her very much grain, and we were keen on that because it's expensive, unsustainable, makes for less nutritious milk, etc.  But we were also warned she is a heavy producer.  I'd read about ketosis, but didn't realize we were setting our cow up for a downward spiral into it. Apparently Jerseys are more difficult/impossible to keep on a grain free diet if you aren't working with genetics specifically geared toward that. 

We are about to embark on AI adventures and found ONE advertisement for semen from grass-based Jersey cows - yay!  That's the direction we want to breed, but that is not the cow we are keeping now.  She's the result of years of breeding Jerseys for high-grain and high production.  And the amount of food she makes in a day is remarkable. 

This is how I've come to understand ketosis.  Dairy animals need carbs in their diet so they can produce lactose for their milk.  My understanding is that some dairy animals, you feed them less sugar, they just make less milk.  Some dairy animals (heavy producers tend to fall in this catagory), you feed them less sugar, they begin eating their body to put enough lactose in the milk.  Production falls but only by a little.  Your animal can't walk very well, then stops eating very well, then can't get up, loses several hundred pounds in twelve hours, then loses her appetite entirely, and most of the time once they're that far into ketosis they don't come out of it. 

If you can grow reallly really amazing grass with super high brix/sugar content, you probably will be able to feed less or no grain much more easily, cause lots of the sugar can come from the grass rather than grain.  But amazing grass doesn't happen over night, it takes a few years of really good pasture management.  We're dealing with first year pasture that's probably close to no-brix. 

I'd rather have a live cow who eats lots of grain than a dead cow that doesn't eat anything.  We came very close to having a dead cow because of our ethical desires to feed less grain, and it was incredibly stressful and scary.  I've had to let go of certain desires til we can find or breed a cow that suits our needs. 

Anyone curious if their dairy animal is in ketosis should purchase Keto-strips for diabetics.  Test their pee for ketones, it's a simple and fool-proof diagnosis. 

At this point it's very easy to know when our cow slips into the first stage of ketosis - she gets really really grouchy.  Like, wants to stomp on me when I try to milk her.    We've tried to reduce her grain a couple of times (lactating during the winter doesn't help anything....she arrived pregnant, that's not a decision we made) and she just gets really angry until we give her more sugar. 

The whole point of all of this ---



is that yes, our cow eats a big pile of grain every day.  BUT in her milk output she adds to the caloric worth of the grain to the tune of two thousand calories - as much as most humans need to eat in a day.  That for me makes the grain "worth it".  I also believe that the food value in the milk is much greater than the food value in the grain she eats - in other words, it's better for our health to be drinking the milk she makes from the grain than to eat the grain ourselves.



I know Jersey cows exist who make two or three gallons a day with no grain at all, and that is totally the most sustainable form of milk in my opinion.  I'd love to have a cow like that.  But again, that's not the cow we have.  Maybe goats are different.  I don't know anything at all about goats.  Which is why the input from those that do is really interesting!

I have this sneaking suspicion that cows are more efficient milk makers, grain or no.  It obviously varies a lot, but it's a fact that one cow produces more milk than one goat.  You need several goats to make the same amount of milk that one cow makes.  That's several more bodies to keep warm, smaller bodies without as much thermal mass as the one large body, thus more energy is used to keep the animals alive, even though each small goat body needs a lot less to stay alive than the large cow body.  It's just my theory, I'm curious to see if there's any truth to it. 
 
Anna Carter
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Location: Lacey, Wa
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I, too, am curious about the relative efficacies of food intake versus milk production. I suspect the answer is variable, depending on climate, forage available, bloodlines, etc. For example, perhaps in warmer climes goat's small body size is a benefit, as it lets them disperse heat more quickly and effectively.

Nigerians have an interesting history- they weren't really used as a dairy breed in the west until quite recently- until then, they were kept in zoos. Now, in west Africa, where they came from, I can only guess at what conditions they were kept under. What I do know is that they are extraordinarily adaptable, hardy, have a high incidence of multiples, and make the richest milk of any goat breed (at least according to adga), but then, they also give on average about 1/3~ of what an average full sized goat gives. So, my guess is they simply haven't undergone the long term, intensive breeding other goats have for milk production with the aid of grain, and, that, if I were to take, say a Saanen (kind of the Holstein of the goat world), and try to milk her with out any grain, I would get far different results.

I've wondered for a long time on the various efficiencies of hay into milk, though I'm more interested in caloric value than volume. Do Nigerians eat a 1/3 of what a full sized goat does? If you were to compare the caloric value of Nigerian milk with a full sized goat milk, and then compare how much calories they had consumed, what would the ratios look like? I have no idea, as I haven't had full sized goats since I was a kid. If I had more land I would love to have both Nigerians and Nubians and compare food intake and butterfat and protein production.

Dexters, the cows I had experience with, have always been a small farm/family cow, and they were developed on poor pastures, forage, and cold climate, as well as being dual purpose, so I feel like it would be comparing apples to oranges to compare them to Jerseys. For most of their history, milk demand was a single calf, or a family. So they aren't producing the prodigious amounts of milk any dairy breed does. But the milk they do produce....yum.
 
Brice Moss
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dellartemis wrote:


A pound of milk is two fluid ounces.  So, to use Brice Mosses feed conversion ratio -- if we were getting a pound of milk per pound of grain from our cow, we'd be getting 4 gallons of milk a day.  Right?  Do you know how much the kids are eating?  Or do they have free udder access and you milk dry twice, with the pound of grain for a pound of milk being your take?  


a pound is roughly a pint. pretty close to eight pounds to the gallon

I have no idea how much the babies are eating, they get mommy about 14 hours a day and tucked into a stall at night, I milk once in the morning. the up side of this is when I need to be elsewhere for a day leaving the babies with mom keeps here from getting uncomfortable.

last year when I was milking twice a day and bottle feeding I got close to three pints a day for the first three months tapering down to about 2 pints a day at 8 months, the doe I'm milking this year is younger though and not at full udder capacity I did get nearly a pint and a half this morning.

The milk is so rich that in most recipies I substitute half water for the called upon milk and use it straight in a lot of places where I would have to use cream (Alfredo sauce and the like)

careful when thinking about the feed conversions though cause the gal I'm milking right now got a pound o day of grain for most of her pregnancy too.

there are also digestibility considerations I can't eat cows milk on my ceral more than three times a week without getting gassy

But my nigerians have lil tiny nipples and milk them is more work than I would like to be doing (I use one of these to make things easier http://udderlyez.com/goat_milkers.php) in terms of human effort A cow or one of the dairy breed goats would certianly be more efficient
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Ok, then you have people like me having to come up with solutions. No attitude here, just resigned to that's how it is right now.

      Have been pulling bunch grass for my milking goats who are bred to milk on forage. Sprouted oats and sunflower leaves to supplement for now. Will be using some Natural Farming recipes to enhance the local Choka weed and native grass feed values. In the mean time will be using barley for hydroponic forage until can get some other things have growing. In process of planting sunflowers in mass quantities and hooking them upto gravity fed irrigation. Am planting in the next two weeks an area 70 x 80' with just sunflowers. Just ordering the seed this coming week.

    Have beds built out of goat tuft.That is what's the winds blows outside their yard. Have plenty of onions and greens growing in some now and am very pleased with the rate of growth. The leaves from the swiss chard, beets and carrots will be feedstuffs for them.

Hay here is either unavailable or so high in price(quality is poor also) its definitely not sustainable to purchase. The good thing is in won't be long before have this figured out for the goats.
   
The bad thing is milk production is in the dumps right now, but the ladies aren't the kind to develop ketosis. As things get better their production will increase, something else they have been bred to do.

Two things on my to do list-greenhouse for greens and sunflower forage and a warm shed for hydroponic forage.
 
Len Ovens
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Is this really the right question?
"which is the more efficient milk maker?"
Unless there is a rider that goes with it that asks for "good" milk. Like "which animal produces the most nutrients for the feed." ... but then there is the question of even if there are less nutrients per feed are there some nutrients that come with lower production that aren't there with the higher producing animal? High production? The factory farms have that down, but they use up the cow with one seasons milk, the cow is too sick to do a second calf and the milk (much like hot house strawberrys) is mostly water. Add allergies to that... different animals have different casein for example. For that matter some people like one kind of milk over another.

I'm confused  Good thing I am not yet ready to do milk.  I really envy those of you who actually have some land.... that they are allowed to grow animals on (other than dogs and cats).
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Hi Len,
      Grass fed milk has been found to have higher elements of nutrition. Will let someone else get into that dialogue.

      You are one hundred percent right about milk cows being used up by farm factories in a year. The genetics needed can be developed if need be, but now there is more people coming out and talking about what they have already been doing for years and they sometimes have that kind of genetics available that do well milking on grass. Maybe not as good of production as the farm factories, but most certainly good enough to feed a family or do cow shares with.

      You learn by doing or finding someone that can teach you. When you can do that, when bumps do come down the road, you're better with dealing with them successfully.
 
Anna Carter
Posts: 66
Location: Lacey, Wa
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Hi Len, for me, it's an interesting side question, as it relates to how many animals you can sustain on a give amount of land (ideally) and how much food those animals can provide from digesting a form of food that we humans can't really utilize (grass, shrub leaves and stems, etc).

The main question for me is how do I provide the healthiest conditions for the land, the surrounding environment, the animals, and those people who are supported by them. Part of that is knowing how much food each one needs, the best types of feed, etc.

As for the 'good' milk, that's why I look at butterfat and protein percentage- basic measures of milk that look at the contents it aside from the water. Because, yes, if you're breeding for merely increasing volume, you do get water-y milk. Also, the quality and health of the milk depends on what the animals are eating, as well as their genetics. Thus, I chose goats that are known for their rich, creamy milk, and try to feed them best for their optimal health which I think helps them produce healthier milk for me.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Really, comparing the amounts of milk given by goats and cows is an apples and oranges comparison.  Each has a place, they just usually aren't the same place.  Here are some examples of what I mean:

Places where a cow might be best:

Several acres of good grass/forbes pasture
Plenty of water
Large family drinks lots of milk
Prejudice against goats (which is quite common)
Poor fencing that won't hold goats
Neighbor with a good bull to breed the cow to
Need lots of butter

Places where a couple of goats might be best:

Very small property (keep goats penned and bring their feed to them)
Dry land (goats were originally native to mountainous deserts)
Scrub land with lots of brush and browse for them to eat
Small family
Elderly lady who doesn't want to have to handle a thousand-pound animal
Neighbor with good bucks to breed to
Family member can't drink cow milk
Especially like goat cheese

Do you see that they each have their place in the scheme of things?  If they are each used where they are best suited, then they are optimized.  If they are used where they aren't suited, then problems ensue.

A Jersey who gives seven to nine gallons of milk a day is the high-bred equivalent of the high-bred goats who average three gallons a day (and they do exist).  Both are equally fragile, requiring extremely careful management to keep them alive.  But comparing an average goat, giving a gallon a day, to the high-bred Jersey giving seven to nine gallons, is another apples and oranges comparison.  I don't know how big your bales of hay are (it sounds like your cow is eating more than two bales of hay a day, so your bales can't be as big as the ones I buy here, which weigh 110-125 lbs. each), but the high-bred goat giving an average (over her ten month lactation) of three gallons a day is going to be eating at least seven pounds per day of high-quality alfalfa, plus around ten to twelve pounds of concentrate if they can get her to eat that much.  It's difficult to get a goat to eat anywhere near that much grain, in my experience, but that's what she'd be needing for that much milk production, or, like your high-bred cow, she'll be in ketosis. 

I have a doe who can peak at close to two gallons of milk per day, but her average over a ten-month lactation is closer to a gallon a day, and that's the kind of goat I prefer.  She almost entirely refuses to eat any grain at all, though I offer it to her at each milking (the chickens usually end up with most of it).  So, I guess she's good breeding stock for a grass-based goat dairy!

Kathleen

 
James Stark
Posts: 79
Location: Manitoba Canada
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Hey Kathleen,

I noticed you mention butter from cows, but not goats. Does goats milk make crummy butter? I've been considering a goat (and found this thread really interesting) and it just occured to me that I never hear of goat butter.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Goat butter tastes just fine (although it's always white).  The problem is that goat milk is pretty much naturally homogenized, which means that the cream doesn't rise -- at least, not like the cream on cow milk.  If you want butter from goat milk, you should choose breeds with high fat milk such as Nubians, Kinders, or Nigerian Dwarfs if you can find some that are not too difficult to milk (tiny teats).  Then let the jars of milk sit in the frig for several days to get the cream -- if you can naturally sour the milk, maybe by innoculating it with some store-bought sour cream, it will help hold the good flavor.  Or, buy a cream separator designed for goat milk.

The natural homogenization is caused by smaller fat molecules, which is an advantage in some ways as they are easier to digest for a lot of people.  But it does make it harder to get cream for making butter!

Kathleen
 
Melba Corbett
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Location: North Carolina
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From research I did years ago, (don't remember the source, unfortunately), it said goats have a higher metabolism so require more feed to maintain flesh, but are much more efficient milk producers on less forage per pound of milk than cows. 

Our goats are all pretty heavy producers and most of them give considerably more than a gallon a day by their second freshening.  I'd like to get away from grain feeding and am working to that end; however, they need more legumes in the diet as a protein source if they are not getting much grain, and as mentioned by previous posters, more sugars in the forage.  They actually have a hard time digesting grain, but the high producers have to have plenty of protein and sugars or yes, they will go into ketosis. 

Goats can easily digest lespedeza, and cows not so well, so they can maintain on a more fibrous forage than cows.  They also have a digestive enzyme in their saliva which deactivates tannic acid, like that found in some crops or in oak leaves, that a cow cannot. 

Goat milk, being easier to digest, is a benefit to some people.  It sells for much more than cow's milk too.  However, I think it just boils down to which animal you prefer and how much land you have and what kind.  Goats prefer scrub land and browse with plenty of weeds, cows prefer a more grassy pasture and will eat some weeds.

Goats are hell on fences though, and we spend a lot of time just tightening and mending fences.  We're in the North Carolina mountains and a cow would probably break a leg on some of the areas our goats feed on. 
 
Anna Carter
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Red Cloud 31 wrote:
From research I did years ago, (don't remember the source, unfortunately), it said goats have a higher metabolism so require more feed to maintain flesh, but are much more efficient milk producers on less forage per pound of milk than cows. 

Our goats are all pretty heavy producers and most of them give considerably more than a gallon a day by their second freshening.  I'd like to get away from grain feeding and am working to that end; however, they need more legumes in the diet as a protein source if they are not getting much grain, and as mentioned by previous posters, more sugars in the forage.  They actually have a hard time digesting grain, but the high producers have to have plenty of protein and sugars or yes, they will go into ketosis. 

Goats can easily digest lespedeza, and cows not so well, so they can maintain on a more fibrous forage than cows.  They also have a digestive enzyme in their saliva which deactivates tannic acid, like that found in some crops or in oak leaves, that a cow cannot. 

Goat milk, being easier to digest, is a benefit to some people.  It sells for much more than cow's milk too.  However, I think it just boils down to which animal you prefer and how much land you have and what kind.  Goats prefer scrub land and browse with plenty of weeds, cows prefer a more grassy pasture and will eat some weeds.

Goats are hell on fences though, and we spend a lot of time just tightening and mending fences.  We're in the North Carolina mountains and a cow would probably break a leg on some of the areas our goats feed on. 


Thank you for that fantastic information- I hadn't heard about the tannins- I just knew they loved eating fallen leaves and such.
 
Ui Afualo
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I have 2 nigerian dwarf goats. Like said in an earlier post, I give them a scoop of grain when milking on the stand, and a smaller leaf of alfafa hay 2x a day (I kept one of their babies who shares their grain and hay, I don't measure her intake she is just along for the ride and we don't mind, she is kind of like a dog and just follows all of us around and comes and goes as she pleases. Their milk is sweet and creamy! Almost too creamy for me. It's great on cereal and in our daily smoothies. My kids think the smoothies taste like ice cream smoothies. It's hard for me to drink straight because its soo creamy. I get around 1 quart combined at at each milking.

I also have a snubian (cross between a nubian and saanen, both of these breeds are full size dairy goats). She shares a pen with a yearling who is saanen. Our snubian eats a little less than twice as much grain as the nigerian's at the milking stand. I also give them 2 medium flakes a day. She doesn't always eat all her grain either, she scrapes her front hoof if she doesn't want her grain or if her bowl is empty. Someties I just put the real leafy part of the hay in the stand if she doesn't want the grain and that satisifies her to allow me to milk her out. I milk her last so whatever she doesn't eat in her bowl goes to the baby nigerian who is wandering anyways or to the chickens who help themselves when we are done. So nothing goes to waste. My snubian will eat anything we give her including banana peels, orange peels, onion pieces, just things that my nigerians wouldn't eat, she just eats it all. She gives me a full 2 quarts per milking which equals a gallon a day. Her milk is not as sweet and creamy as the nigerians. Its almost flavorless although still good (I could just be used to the Nigerian milk). I prefer to mix the 2 breeds of milk. It gives me a perfect sweetness and I don't mind drinking it from a cup but still a little too much on the creamy side for me.

Last but not least, I also have a full saanen who is nursing her two kids. I milk her out sometimes if her bag happens to look full when I'm milking the others.

I love milking my snubian, her teats are so much bigger and easier to handle than the nigerian. Put it this way the nigerians milk like this [pst pst pst pst] but the snubian milks like this [pssssssssssssst, pssssssssssssst, psssssssssssssst]. It takes me about the same amt of time to milk the nigerian as it does to milk the snubian only the snubian gives me twice as much milk with less effort. My nigerians definitely have a more impatient personality and baa at me until its their turn on the stand, they let me know when their done on the stand as well. On the other hand, the snubian is so quite and patient and is just a sweet heart.

I planted a pasture this year 35 ft. x 100 ft. I plan on the letting the goats graze on half the pasture after their morning milking then putting them back in their pen after their evening milking. Not sure how this will affect their milking/eating habits. We shall see. The hope is I can cut back on either the grain and/or alfalfa.

I almost bought a mini milking cow but the cost of feed, size of poop, heaviness of the hooves, and impact they would have on the sprinklers, eating the whole pasture plant and root and all swayed me to the dairy goat. And there's my 2 cents . Very interesting posts by the way.
 
R Scott
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Ui Afualo wrote: I love milking my snubian, her teats are so much bigger and easier to handle than the nigerian. Put it this way the nigerians milk like this [pst pst pst pst] but the snubian milks like this [pssssssssssssst, pssssssssssssst, psssssssssssssst]. It takes me about the same amt of time to milk the nigerian as it does to milk the snubian only the snubian gives me twice as much milk with less effort. My nigerians definitely have a more impatient personality and baa at me until its their turn on the stand, they let me know when their done on the stand as well. On the other hand, the snubian is so quite and patient and is just a sweet heart.


This is a HUGE factor to think about if you are milking twice a day every day. We have had Nigerians, Saanens, Nubians, Lamanchas, and a Jersey cow--all hand milked. The Jersey was by far the fastest and the Nigereans the slowest just for the milking--when you add in the whole process of cleaning them and transfering from pasture or pen to milking barn and back, the difference was even more.

We can't keep up with the use when the cow is in peak production, and I have two teenage boys. We always save the cream and make butter, we make cheese if we have time and share with friends--but if we can't the milk gets fed to the animals.

One big problem with having A milk cow is you are completely out of production for 2 months a year, or if anything happens to her. You can put back cheese and butter, but you will be out of milk for a while.




 
Stacy Zoozwick
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I have 2 Saanen goats, and I get 2 gall a day from them. I disagree about the cow, I grew up working on dairy farms and goat just don’t eat as much! That mean they are cheaper to feed.
I have has a good friend come over that is a dairy farm because he did not believe how much milk I said I was getting. He took one look at their udders and put his foot in his mouth lol.
Also goat milk is so much more healthy.
Now my goats are spisifacley bread with good dairy genetics. So keep that in mind if you decide to look for goats. Also just like a cow each breed has a lil different flavor.
Good luck!!
 
Andrew Ash
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Location: Chuluota, Florida
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An interesting discussion of crossbreed cows, don't know how relevant it is to this, but it seems like a good place to mention this thread:
http://alanbishop.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=home&action=display&thread=5782
 
Deb Stephens
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books dog food preservation forest garden goat trees
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I apologise that this is somewhat off topic, but I figure if anyone will know the answer to my questions it will be all of you on this thread, and it is a rather pressing problem.

A slight acquaintance of my husband's was given a male beef-calf because the mother died or was killed (I don't know the details and this particular acquaintance didn't seem to care enough to remember them if he ever knew). The calf has a hernia so he thinks he may just let it die and eat it, or not -- he hasn't decided!!! Either way, he has no intention of taking it to a vet or treating the poor little thing because its "just a cow". If it gets better fine, if not, that's fine too.

I'm telling you this because my husband and I want to get the calf so we can take care of it (if the jerk will let us), but we have never had a cow, and have no idea what we are up against as far as the feeding and nutritional needs are concerned. (We only have goats.) I saw and read this thread with great interest because I really want to know what a calf will need in the way of milk and number of feedings per/day. The original poster said the calf they had drank 2 gallons of milk each day, and -- if I read correctly -- is 5 months old? I am not sure how old this calf is, but apparently he is very young since my husband says he is about as big as a Great Dane. Anyway... given his age, sex and breed (a meat breed -- unspecified), how much will he need? Is there a good milk replacer for him? (We don't have a cow or access to fresh cow's milk, unfortunately.) When will he be starting to eat grass and hay? We do have plenty of lush grass and good quality hay available since our goat pasture is about 5 acres for only 6 goats, and they also get to go out to browse in the glades and woods for a couple of hours each day.

I am also wondering whether it might be possible to get a cow with a calf or one who recently had her calf removed but is still giving milk and whether she would accept a new baby to nurse. Any experience with that or recommendations? We are not going to be able to spend much, and I couldn't care less about the cow's pedigree, so I really wouldn't mind a "mutt" or one someone just wanted to cull from the herd. I only want this calf to have a "mother" and proper milk -- then a companion, later. Which brings up one more question (sorry!)... can a calf be kept with goats? Ours are all horned. Is that going to be a big problem?

Sorry for all the questions, but it is really important. I can't stand thinking of the poor little guy suffering without treatment, and want to help him as soon as possible. Thanks for any ideas you may have!
 
R Scott
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I understand you not wanting him to suffer. But I understand the "jerk" too. He is right--he will heal on his own or not. A vet can't do much short of surgery $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

2 gallons a day is about right for that age--but it is at an age it can be weaned off onto solid food. Calves can have goat milk (but not the other way around). Most milk replacer is soy based and not really good nutrition so supplement with a good solid food ration ASAP.

Yes, SOME cows will take an adopted calf. Sometimes you will need to milk the cow into a bottle and feed the calf.

Goats and calves can get along fine, it really depends on their personalities and histories. If they don't, the horns can be a problem.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 374
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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books dog food preservation forest garden goat trees
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R wannabe wrote:I understand you not wanting him to suffer. But I understand the "jerk" too. He is right--he will heal on his own or not. A vet can't do much short of surgery $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

2 gallons a day is about right for that age--but it is at an age it can be weaned off onto solid food. Calves can have goat milk (but not the other way around). Most milk replacer is soy based and not really good nutrition so supplement with a good solid food ration ASAP.

Yes, SOME cows will take an adopted calf. Sometimes you will need to milk the cow into a bottle and feed the calf.

Goats and calves can get along fine, it really depends on their personalities and histories. If they don't, the horns can be a problem.


Thanks for the info. I sort of gathered that replacer was not a good idea -- just hoping there might be an exception because it is going to be difficult to get the real thing. None of our goats are milkers. They are really only pets (originally rescues) and most are quite old. So... anybody know a good source for milk or a very cheap cow in SW Missouri?
 
Dave Bennett
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dellartemis McCoy wrote:A single cow, I've learned, is a small scale dairy.  "A pound of milk is two fluid ounces. "

One gallon of milk (128 fluid ounces) weighs approximately 9 lbs. One pound of milk would be 1/9th of a gallon or 14 fluid ounces.
 
Alice Kaspar
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Back to the OP's question: "which is the more efficient milk maker?"

For most of us goat people, it doesn't matter. Maybe we don't like sloppy cow poo. Maybe we don't need that much milk at a time.

I've had cattle. I have dairy goats now. MUCH prefer the dairy goats.

Better personalities, too.

Plus, goats can feed themselves in the forest.

And you can cuddle kids.

And they don't whack you in the head with a poopy tail while you are milking.

 
Melba Corbett
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Location: North Carolina
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You can put a pressure bandage on a hernia for a calf or goat. You have to make a small pad just to fit over the protusion of the hernia and wrap an Ace bandage over that and over the back. You want it to apply good pressure but not so tight as to cut off circulation where the Ace bandage wraps their body. You may have to go over the back and around the belly a couple of times, and then secure it with a safety pin or something to hold it in place. Works sometimes, and sometimes they just grow out of it. This is a little late for the above poster, but perhaps this information will help someone else.
 
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