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Does anyone have a milk cow?

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  • Does anyone have a milk cow?

    Here's my latest wild idea.... Tell me I'm crazy and talk me out of this please!

    Is it possible to get a nurse cow, let her raise a calf or two a year (not hers, a beef bottle calf for example) and also milk her a bit?

    I'd love to have a dairy cow but don't drink enough milk nor do I want to commit to milking a cow daily. So can you let them nurse a calf and also milk them?

    Just curious.
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  • #2
    My understanding...and I'm NOT any kind of authority of dairy but I had friends that ran one...is that modern dairy cows produce too much milk for a calf to drink. They need to be milked. Now there may be some sort of multipurpose breed that approach might work for but forget trying it with a Holstein.

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's what my mom did when we were kids.

      THe bought a Jersey as they are sweet, smaller and easy to handle. THen she bred (AI) to black angus, also a smaller/shorter breed, but a good meat breed.
      Then once she calved, she would milk out as much milk as we would drink each day and let the calf nurse out all the rest of the day. I don't think you can milk for the first week or so because the calf needs the colostrum. But the cow will produce plenty of milk for the calf and for family use.
      Some people say that a cow wont' let you milk her while she is nursing a calf, but Jersey's are sweet and she did just fine. THen when the calf was a year old or so it was turned into dinner.
      If I remember correctly we couldn't milk her a few weeks before calving either. But I'm sure you can Google all of that. There is a great website called www.backyardherds.com that gives great info about back yard farming.
      The cows also lived just fine with our horses.
      Mom also made butter, all you have to do is let the milk sit for several hours in a LARGE container and the cream will rise to the top. Then get a small hose, like you would use for an aquarium filter, and put the milk on the counter, an equally large container on the floor below, or stool (keep the pets away) and then stick the hose in the milk at the bottom of the container and suck for a second on the hose and then put it in the container below. Then gravity will take over and you can drain the milk. When you get to the cream just stop siphoning.
      Then beat the cream with a blender and it will stiffen up, as it stiffens you pour the "butter milk" off of it. You can keep that for baking if you like. Once the butter is quite stiff, remove it from the blender and just take a large spoon and Press the rest of the milk off of it, you can put a little salt in it if you like. You will need to keep it in the fridge overnight as it will go rancid more quickly, but I dont' remember ours ever going rancid, I just remember that it was possible. Anyway that was a long story!
      Oh, and a cow won't start to produce milk until it is bred, so you will HAVE to breed it. And many cows won't accept another's calf, but some will. My mom did buy a young calf a few times to nurse with the calf that Elsie had herself so that we had more beef.
      My mom worked full time and was raised in Toronto, ON, but she just did this stuff so we would have more natural food.
      good luck!

      Comment


      • #4
        Another enabler, here! This is exactly what we plan to do when we get our own farm. (We rent a barn and pasture right now, and are limited to horses only in our lease). I don't know how it would work with calves that she didn't birth, but I do know that lots of people will run the calf with the cow and just milk enough for their own needs. The way I've always heard it works is say you want to milk just once a day in the morning. You milk in the morning, then let the calf run with the cow all day. At night, you separate them, the calf will still need milk replacer at night, so that the cow bags up that you get more than just a couple of cups at a time. I've heard the same thing about don't try this with a Holstein. They've been bred to be milk producing machines! There are tons of "family" breeds out there. Jersey, Scottish Highland, miniature holstein, miniature Jersey, and many others.

        Sheila

        Comment


        • #5
          Milk breeds tend to produce WAY more milk than a single calf can use. This is even if you milk her once a day.

          And let me tell you from experience, that there seem to be VERY FEW bottle calves in beef breeds. They don't take them off their moms because calves gain so MUCH BETTER. We found exactly ONE heifer calf, in hunting HARD for a beef calf over 2 months! We bought her but she was already 2 months old and cost $400. Maybe we didn't have the right connections, but NO ONE we talked to would take a beef calf off the cow, didn't have orphans. Beef practices are totally unlike Dairy farmers.

          You could probably pick up a couple dairy calves easily from a local farmer, to put on a cow to keep her cleaned out. Or breed her for a calf, then add on a second calf in a couple weeks, so she is feeding two.

          You have to be careful that the dairy cow gets ALL THE QUARTERS of her udder milked clean daily. Single calf may or may not do that. I have heard of a calf only liking 1-2 quarters, never nurses from the others which develop severe problems. Little calf just can't drink what dairy cow produces, way too much milk. So any dairy cow is going to need attention more than "now and then" when YOU need a bit of milk. If you don't care for her properly, provide extra calf for instance, you take the chance of ruining her udder, her getting sick.

          Not sure if you would want to raise a beef heifer, then just milk her once a day, to share with her calf. Beefers probably produce as well as old-time milk cows did way back. Beef cow would have a smaller udder, but still could give a gallon or more, with once a day milking. You pen up the cow and calf overnight, separated. Then milk her first thing in the AM when she is full, calf can eat all day. I am suggesting a beef heifer, they are pretty available, naturally have a smaller udder so less worries about mastitus or other issues with a constantly overfull udder.

          The more you milk the cow, calf or calves empty the udder, the more she will produce. When the demand is on her from you and calves, she will give more milk. She will need PLENTY of nice water, good amount of hay or grass to produce this milk. Grain amount will depend on how good the grass and hay are. Grain will get her into the stanchion for milking, keep her friendly.

          If you have not trained a cow to milk, finding one that will stand for hand milking is IMPORTANT. Cull cows from the dairy farm will only be used to equipment, though they can be retrained to hand milking. Sometimes the Amish have cows advertised that will be hand milked. Hand milking is work, with effort to totally strip the udder quarters when you get finished.

          You will want to get her TB tested before purchase, to prevent buying a problem for your family. Most States require that annual testing in dairy herds, before milk can be sold to the Co-Op.

          And lastly, are you prepared to do the work of milk preparation so it is ready to drink? I STRONGLY suggest you DO NOT just drink the milk from the milk bucket. You can look up what steps are needed to prepare milk before it is "family ready". I do suggest you read up on what benefits are gained by pasturizing the milk. Personally? I WOULD ONLY drink pasturized milk or serve it to my family!! Lots of Raw Milk enthusiasts touting the health benefits, but some of the stuff that is in/can get in to raw milk will kill you! A number of news stories on that very problem, buying and using raw milk recently, kids died. Cooking the milk to needed temps for pasturizing, for length of time needed, is going to remove the chance of problems.

          Getting a milk cow of any breed, using her for milk, is not a decision to be taken lightly. You really have to be committed to the whole deal. If you only do what is "convenient" to you, cow will get damaged, your family will probably end up sick. Cows are absolutely run by a clock, want things done in strict routine if possible. So milking at the same time daily, EVERY DAY, feeding at the same times, is IMPORTANT to the cow. She will cooperate if you abide by this. Skip a day or two, she isn't going to be so cooperative. Cows and milking them, processing the milk is a TIME investment thing. Seems like any shortcuts don't work well. Not like having goldfish.

          Comment


          • #6
            Farm families with kids were the ones that kept a milk cow, because they didn't have a convenient store to go buy milk from.

            Those families also had pigs.
            Milk cow was milked twice a day, the family used what it needed, then fed any calf/calves and pigs the rest.

            The latest out there, my computer died again and is in the shop so can't access the link, reiterates to please, not use raw milk from any sources, too risky to anyone's health.
            We grew up milking and had a designated milk boiling pot with an insert with a hole in it.
            When we boiled milk it would raise and not boil over but shoot out of the hole and recycle in the pot as it was boiling for some minutes.
            Then pasteurization came to be and those illnesses became history.
            Lately, Drs are seeing them again.
            Guess that some have to learn the hard way.

            Comment


            • #7
              No, it's not a good idea. Cows have a hissy fit when not milked on schedule- you have to be committed. Dairy cattle produce way too much milk for one calf. DH(who grew up on a dairy) said with a jersey cow, raising 2 calves on poor forage (less feed=less production), you might get by with it. You'll still have to make sure all 4 quarters are being milked daily. And you'll want a milking machine, since milking by hand sucks and the milk isn't "clean". Seriously, it's probably not a good idea.

              ETA: I don't have any problems with raw milk, though any I've drank came right out of the bulk tank where it was cooled quickly, and of course everything on a commercial dairy is properly sanitized. It's the best tasting stuff ever! It's probably not the best idea for kids under 2, elderly, or other immuno-compromised folks to drink it, but for your average healthy person, it's fine.
              Last edited by shakeytails; Mar. 11, 2012, 02:36 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Tell me I'm crazy and talk me out of this please!
                ...
                nor do I want to commit to milking a cow daily.

                Ok. This is easy. You are crazy! Cowz need to be milked daily, preferably 2 or more times per day. Every day. Weekends included. Days you think you are so sick you can't get out of bed. Days when you just don't want to do it. Days when you are on holiday. Days when you are in the hospital. Milking cannot wait. Ever. Unless you like your cow dead, then you can wait a day or two without milking.

                For all that cowz are tough customers, they'll become $ersiously ill at the drop of a hat.

                If you're not interested in dairying (and really, why would you want to buy a 7 day week job?) then get yourself a calf or two to raise without the bother of a cow.

                Need anything further to talk you out of it? I've got lots more of a graphic nature (foot care nightmares, teats getting ripped to shreds, routine surgeries which will make you think the price of grass raised organic beef is WAY cheaper than raising your own, etc.) I can go on, just let me know!
                Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.

                Comment


                • #9
                  You have to commit to at least once a day. Once daily milking can work but you can't just milk when you feel like it. We have a 3/4 mini-Jersey 1/4 Dexter that lost her first calf, so we got a baby Holstein steer from a local dairy for $50. A year later he went in the freezer and we milked the cow once a day. You might want to check out:

                  Lots of info at http://familycow.proboards.com/index.cgi

                  Another option (would still require daily milking but less time and effort) would be a milking goat. They are small, easy to handle, easy to milk, and give less milk than a cow. Although the goats' milk you get in the store is pretty gamey (yuck), fresh goats' milk is very sweet and similar in flavor to cows'. We have Nigerian Dwarves and LaManchas. The Nigerians are tiny and produce a lot of very rich milk for their size but they have tiny teats and can be tough to milk unless you have very small hands. LaManchas are very mellow and easy to milk, and are good producers.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by IntegritySporthorses View Post
                    Here's my latest wild idea.... Tell me I'm crazy and talk me out of this please!

                    Is it possible to get a nurse cow, let her raise a calf or two a year (not hers, a beef bottle calf for example) and also milk her a bit?

                    I'd love to have a dairy cow but don't drink enough milk nor do I want to commit to milking a cow daily. So can you let them nurse a calf and also milk them?

                    Just curious.
                    Like you say there, you don't use enough milk now for the chores a milk cow and some critters to eat the extra milk will bring.

                    A milk cow makes sense in a big family with many others to feed, like farm employees.
                    Someone that is cooking all day from scratch and has the time to make all those products that are made with milk.

                    We quit having a milk cow, then had dairy goats, but we were selling the milk to some in town and had to quit that when new regulations would have required we start processing the milk, no more raw milk sales.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                      A milk cow makes sense in a big family with many others to feed, like farm employees.
                      Someone that is cooking all day from scratch and has the time to make all those products that are made with milk.
                      Well, I don't know that you have to cook all day from scratch to make it worth having a dairy cow...but I do think you have to choose your breed wisely. We have friends that have miniatures Jerseys or something; maybe Dexters? They chose them specifically because the quantity of milk they produced worked for their family. I do think they make some cheese as well, but generally it's just for their family to eat and drink. I'm also quite positive they milk by hand, so a $1600 milker isn't necessary for everyone. And not very useful if you lose power.

                      I think they only need to milk 1x a day but of course they have to milk every day as Tikidoc said above. Other friends have chosen to own two Nubian goats instead because of the milk production and they are easy to keep.

                      OP: It sounds like you might not be ready for a cow if you don't want to milk every day, but you might find another family that is looking for a partner to cover certain milking times in exchange for milk.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We have been researching a family milk cow too. My understanding is the best thing to do is try and find a cow that is considered a "low producer." That way you don't end up with too much milk or having to milk more than once a day.

                        There's an entire forum dedicated to the family milk cow:

                        http://familycow.proboards.com/index.cgi

                        Right now we're paying for raw milk and love it.

                        Eventually would like to have our own cow and make butter, kefir, yogurt, cheese, etc.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm a dairy farmer, and we will occasionaly sell cull cows as family milk cows. They are generally giving less than 45lbs a day. That is still over 5 gallons. You can keep a calf on them, but it is easier not to. Some cows will stay in milk for 300, 400 even 500 days. We generally breed them 2 months after they freshen and always dry them 8 weeks before they are due to calve again. If you can't commit to twice daily milkings to keep her in production, it might not be cost effective to keep a milk cow. Also factor in her feed, hoof care, AI costs for future calves to keep her in milk and a pasteurizer before deciding if buying a milk cow makes financial sense.
                          Originally posted by The Saddle
                          Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Important release from the CDC about raw milk increases in illnesses reported:

                            http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmil...ilk-index.html

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                              Important release from the CDC about raw milk increases in illnesses reported:

                              http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmil...ilk-index.html
                              There is a place near us selling raw milk shares. If the public EVER saw the conditions on that farm, they wouldn' touch the stuff. There were 2 children hospitalized for a long time in Boulder because of raw milk, but some people don't want to admit the danger
                              Originally posted by The Saddle
                              Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Well here is a negative news story about raw milk that is close to home for me.

                                http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/...ed_to_van.html

                                This is a link to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that covers a lot of information on raw milk and the negative sides to using it.

                                http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/0...ever-outbreak/

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  My neighbors have a Jersey whom I absolutely adore. Handmilking a cow sucks (I own dairy goats and enjoy milking, but my forearms tire after the first gallon) so you'd probably end up needing a milking machine. You would have to milk daily, even with the calf.

                                  You can usually get a free or cheap steer calf from a dairy farmer and raise it on your extra milk, but you would be facing a daily chore. Don't get a milk cow if you don't want a committed milking schedule!
                                  My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

                                  Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I would probably never buy raw milk, but might be comfortable drinking raw milk from my own cow (if I had one). I think it's a little bit dramatic to cite fewer than 100 cases of "alleged" milk-borne illnesses and therefore strike fear into the hearts of anyone who would consider drinking raw milk.

                                    Thousands and thousands of people in our country safely drink raw milk every day, and I can't even imagine the number of people world-wide that safely drink raw milk.

                                    Obviously, the risk factor increases based on the number of cows and humans involved in the final product -- a dairy that sells hundreds of gallons of raw milk a day is much more likely to have an accidental contamination than one backyard cow. Everyone should research this carefully before jumping into it, but the "family cow" scenario is less likely to be problematic because you can control the sanitation of your animal, milk buckets, bottles, etc. and make decisions accordingly.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by didgery View Post

                                      You can usually get a free or cheap steer calf from a dairy farmer and raise it on your extra milk, but you would be facing a daily chore. Don't get a milk cow if you don't want a committed milking schedule!
                                      We are getting $170 for day old bull calves with 1 gallon of colostrum in them. It varies place to place. In CA, a guy we know is getting $2.
                                      Originally posted by The Saddle
                                      Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        This is an idea I've also tossed around. I would *love* to get my hands on REAL milk instead of the imitation stuff from the grocery store.

                                        I read a couple of blogs where they keep milk cows, the archives may give you some ideas of what it's like:

                                        http://forpeteysake.blogspot.com/201...-le-creme.html (A half gallon of heavy cream every DAY?!)

                                        Look back in the archives of Suzanne McMinn's blog http://chickensintheroad.com/ for stories about Beulah Petunia (and Glory Bee). She did a whole year of cheese making posts too (I believe that was the motivation for getting a milk cow.)

                                        Personally, I am going to start with dairy goats first, and *maybe* graduate to a cow some time in the future once I have a plan for All That Milk.
                                        --
                                        Wendy
                                        ... and Patrick

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