To help you decide if a milk cow is a good idea for you, find someone who has a milk cow and can show you what’s involved, and perhaps let you help with milking. If you like the work, ask yourself these ten questions. Your answers will tell you if a milk cow makes sense for you.
1.) How much milk does your family drink a day or use in the form of yogurt, butter and cheese? Unless you have livestock to consume the excess, it may make better sense to buy raw milk, join a herd share or get a dairy goat.
2.) Are you willing to milk once or twice a day, every day, for about 10 months during the year? If not, do you have people who can do the job for you?
3.) Is your schedule such that you can milk at the same time every day and not skip a day?
4.) Do you have a barn or shed with a stall to protect a cow and calf from the elements and a place to milk her?
5.) Are you set up to take care of the milk once it’s out of Elsie’s udder?
6.) Can you handle mucking out her stall every day?
7.) Do you have at least an acre of good pasture that the cow can graze rotationally?
8.) Do you have a local source of good-quality hay and grain and a way to transport it?
9.) If you haven’t been around livestock, are you willing to learn more about the care and feeding of the family cow?
10.) Are you squeamish about using needles to give shots or perform simple vet procedures?
This article originally published in THE NEW PIONEER® Winter 2015 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to THE NEW PIONEER magazine are available here.
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