You can never be too prepared to raise a cow for their milk. You have to be prepared for the animal not being receptive or defensive when you reach for their teat, and you also have to know when is the right time to milk them. Speaking of milking them, you would also need the proper milking equipment to contain the milk, and strain it too. Having discipline and good time management is key, especially when it comes to creating milking schedules and routines.
One aspect that is constantly overlooked is the fact that you have to handle transport and acclimatizing the animals to your homestead too. Most of the time, cows raised for their milk hate being moved around a lot, so you’ll have to be prepared if they respond out of stress. It’s a lot of hard work and effort, but many experienced homesteaders assure us that it is the most fulfilling work in their lifetime.
Up until this part, raising dairy animals may sound like a huge responsibility. This is why we’ve gone ahead to compile helpful tips to assist you in navigating such a task. Taking care and raising a cow can be hard, so it’s worth it to put in the time to research whether it’s a task worth committing to. Without further ado, let’s get started.
How Much Can I Expect to Invest in Raising A Cow for Dairy?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because of the different factors depending on where you are located and what land you’re raising your cow on. So in this section, we’ll detail necessities you’ll have to consider when preparing to raise a cow.
The Star of The Show: The Cow
It all comes down to the cow’s age, whether she’s pregnant or lactating, and her breed. The older the cow, the cheaper, but then again you would have to consider if she’s in shape to withstand what you need her for. If you choose to invest in a premium-bred cow, you can always get your money back by breeding her with a premium-bred bull and then selling off her calves.
Speaking of breeding, you could also opt for artificial insemination, or opt for the natural route if you already have a bull on the homestead. This all requires costs and depends on your own budget, so do take into consideration how you wish to go about that. Experts recommend frequently testing your cow for pregnancy as it is very hard for the human eye to detect whether a cow is or not until it’s too late. It’s important to know whether she’s bred or not so you don’t waste resources for a long period of time and not seeing the fruition of your hard work due to a mistake. When you go about pregnancy testing, you can consider these three ways to do so. You can consult a veterinarian, do milk testing, or do blood testing. Seeing a vet may be hard, as you don’t want to cause a potentially pregnant cow any distress by moving her out of her comfort zone.
You can keep a lookout for signs of heat – which include irritability, mounting or being mounted by other cows, mucus discharge, bloody discharge, or a huge drop in milk production. Again, it may be hard to tell especially with a dairy cow, so don’t ever hesitate to contact a professional to aid you in that.
Other than that, you would have to consider grooming costs like trimming hooves and washing them clean.
Made of high hardness and wear resistance SK5 carbon steel, this multi-purpose trimmer is perfect for hooves and plants. It features a half wave blade and half smooth blade; as well as an ergonomic handle.
Premium unlined grain deerskin gloves are comfortable and ideal when you are working at your farm and have to do all sorts of chores like cleaning your cattle as well as feeding them.
Ideal for cleanup and agricultural uses, this heavy duty pail was made to last both dry and wet materials. It has a wire reinforced top rim and deep swedging that adds strength. It is rust-proof too.
Space For Shelter
Pastures are great, but without a proper shelter, it can risk the cow’s vulnerability to illness and/or death. A good barn will help shelter your cow during storms or colder weather, so investing in a good one will do you good.
Feed, Grain, or Mineral Bucket
In case you didn’t get a cow that is 100% grass-fed, it’s good to feed yours with grain to ensure it gets the nutrients it needs. A good tip from experienced farmers is to conduct ‘grain bucket training’ where you train your cow to familiarize herself with the fact that the bucket has her food. This helps you lure her to places you need her to, like from pasture to the barn or such. It’s a better alternative than hustling with an animal and wasting time!
While most farmers opt to milk their cows by hand, you can also choose to invest in a milking pump. However, just take note that you’ll be faced with the extra task of cleaning it after every use, and also in regular servicing to maintain its function. If you prefer a quicker process, milking your cow by hand is faster, plus you don’t have anything extra to wash up after.
A pulsation vacuum pump milker, it is automatic and portable. The pulsating pump works to stimulate the strength and frequency of milking by hand and everything is made from high-standard materials.
Mainly designed for disinfecting teats before milking, it is easy to operate and is made with a premium plastic material that is non-toxic, odorless, and safe. Plus, it is convenient for cleaning.
Milking Supplies You Need
Some basic supplies you would need include a teat cleaner, a teat dip, paper towels, or shop towels, two stainless steel buckets per cow, funnels, filters, and mason jars.
What to Do If My Cow Gives Birth
If your cow gives birth to a calf, we highly recommend you leave it alone and let Mother Cow do her thing. Naturally, she’ll clean her calf herself, but if you notice her ignoring it, you can prompt her by placing the calf in front of her. Don’t worry if this still doesn’t spark any sort of reaction from Mother Cow even after some time — you can gently dry off the calf with a towel. This may pique her curiosity and encourage her to start bonding with her calf.
Keep the mother and calf in close observation and ensure the calf begins nursing after a maximum of three hours. It’s key that they get the nutrients from their mother within this time period to get the antibodies and nutrients they need as their gut will begin to close if it goes on for too long. It’s absolutely fine to intervene and guide the calf towards the teat if you deem fit.
To wrap things up, we hope this article has helped provide you valuable insight into taking care of a cow and raising it for dairy. It’s a huge commitment, but no doubt a rewarding experience for any homesteader.
|1||RONAON Hoof Trimming Shears|
Made of high hardness and wear resistance SK5 carbon steel, this multi-purpose trimmer is perfect for hooves and plants.
|2||Deerskin Gloves |
Premium unlined grain deerskin gloves are comfortable and ideal when you are working at your farm and have to do all sorts of chores.
Ideal for cleanup and agricultural uses, this heavy duty pail was made to last both dry and wet materials. It has a wire reinforced top rim.
|4||Cow Goat Milking Machine|
A pulsation vacuum pump milker, it is automatic and portable. The pulsating pump works to stimulate the strength of milking by hand.
|5||Premium Detachable Teat Dip Cup|
Mainly designed for disinfecting teats before milking, it is easy to operate and is made with a premium, non-toxic plastic material.