When we wanted to learn more about the benefits of owning dairy cows we contacted Kim Scileppi, who was featured in issue #146 of TNP with her husband John, daughter Sarah and son Ben. Milking two cows and goats is a daily routine at their ranch. 

When asked if a dairy cow makes sense for anyone with a few acres and the desire to drink fresh milk, she answered, “A milk cow is not for everyone. First, you have to like cows and their smells. If you do, and your family enjoys fresh milk, yogurt, cheese and butter, a cow can become the centerpiece of your farm, provided you have other livestock. I feed what we don’t use to our chickens, pigs, lambs, bottle feeders (calves fed by a bottle),  even our baby goats. The calves are really what make a milk cow pencil out financially.”

The three breeds of dairy cows most used for milk in this country are Jerseys, Guernseys and Holsteins. They are also the most popular in commercial dairies. Other popular dairy cow breeds are Brown Swiss, Ayrshire and Red & White, a breed genetically related to the Holstein and similar to it.

The Best Dairy Cows:

  • Holsteins and Red & Whites can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and their milk is low in butterfat and protein.
  • Ayrshires weigh about 1,200 pounds, have strong feet and legs, and are able to withstand difficult conditions. Their milk has a moderate butterfat content.
  • Brown Swiss are an ancient breed with a calm disposition but are large in size, often reaching a weight of 1,500 pounds.
  • Guernseys weigh 1,000 to 1,200 pounds. Because of the yellow tinge of their milk, the breed has become less popular, but their milk is high in fat and protein.
  • Jerseys have the highest butterfat and protein content of all dairy breeds. Known as “the cheese breed,” the Jersey is highly adaptable to weather and geographic conditions. Its small size (950 pounds) and high milk yield make it the most efficient milk producer.

This article originally published in THE NEW PIONEER®. Print and Digital Subscriptions to THE NEW PIONEER magazine are available here.

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