The Family Cow: Homesteader's Guide

A Family Dairy Cow -

The Family Cow

When it comes to traditional farming, hobby farming, or simple homesteading, one of the decisions you may have to make is whether to keep a dairy cow on your property. The family cow is as much a part of farming as the crops you grow. Having homemade dairy products is an essential part of the farming experience. However, there are some important considerations to make before you choose to keep a dairy cow.

You will need enough room on your property to have a cow and shelter to protect it from the elements. The good news is that a dairy cow is very mild-mannered and well-behaved, so it is well-suited for being around children. So, you have a barn and enough room for the cow to walk around comfortably. In that case, you can start making the basic considerations of having such an animal on your property.

The Cost of a Cow

You can purchase most good dairy cows for about $1,000 to $3,000, although it will depend on what part of the country that you reside in. Remember that you can get cows for different prices at auctions or from farmers who are looking to sell cows from their property at potentially lower prices if you are not all that picky.

How Much Property Do I Need for a Single Cow?

There is no exact figure, but for a single cow, it helps to have about two to five acres which are typical of most homestead or hobby farms. You will need an additional two acres for every additional cow that you want to add. Good pastureland will help feed a cow during the spring, summer, and fall, but you will need to provide hay for the winter months. However, if you plan on feeding your cow hay year-round, then you can have less land to keep them.

There is no exact answer to this question because it depends on a number of factors which include the following;

– The amount of pasture available.

– The type of hay you are using for feed.

– The cost of the hay.

– The type of family cow you own.

Generally speaking, a typical cow eats about 35 pounds of hay per day and you can expect to pay up to $200 per 2000 pounds. This means that you can expect to pay about $200 every two months or $1200 to feed your cow for a single year. However, if you have good pastureland, then you will only need the hay for the winter months which will cut the cost considerably.

Should You Feed Cows Hay All of the Time?

It will depend on the amount of land that you have available, but generally speaking, cows that feed on the grass during the spring, summer, and early fall months benefit from the experience. You might feed cows grain to help boost their production of milk, but unless you are selling it the cost of the grain may not be worth it.

Does the Cow have to be Bred First Before Producing Milk?

Yes, the cow must have a calf first in order to start the lactation cycle. However, once it starts you can keep the cow producing milk for years to come as long as you do not stop. Some farmers will breed their cows every year to get a fresh lactation cycle going, but you don’t have to do that as once you get the process going, it will keep ongoing for several years to come.

How Much Milk Does a Typical Cow Produce?

There is no exact amount, but a typical cow will generally produce three to four gallons per day if you milk them twice during that time. You might get more if you feed your cow grain, but for most families three to four gallons is plenty.

The Milking Process

The milking process can be performed by hand or you can use a mini milker courtesy of Slavic Beauty. The machine itself is easy to use and makes it very simple to milk your dairy cow even for those who have difficulty in using their hands. The machine is portable so that you can move it around and store it when necessary.

Of course, the milk that you get from your family cow can then be processed using a cream separator or perhaps a butter churn. You can enjoy a wealth of delicious dishes thanks to the addition of natural cream or butter that you get from your own cow.

Overall, the experience of hobby farming or homesteading is made far more enjoyable by having your own dairy cow that provides you with valuable, fresh milk and homemade dairy products.


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