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I wrote this post several years ago before we got our milk cow. Life has changed a lot since then but the prep list still holds true for preparing for a family milk cow. Since then, we’ve moved over 700 miles away and gotten goats.
We no longer have Gertie as we weren’t able to bring her with us when we moved. We greatly miss having a milk cow and we plan to add an A2/A2 Jersey back to our homestead in the (hopefully very near) future.
How to Prepare For a Family Milk Cow
(on a tight budget)
When I say it like that it sounds like I know what I’m doing. Ok, all joking aside. All of this is fairly new to me but I have good “cow” friends and have done a lot of research. Gertie will probably be coming home in the next few weeks.
This is sort of a run down of our to-do list before Gertie arrives on the homestead. We will be working hard together to get it all done. We will also be working with a tight budget so we have to get creative with our planning.
As of right now, the field is still not fenced in. Farmer Derek is quick (and really good at) building fences but we have yet to get started. We need to measure, collect our materials, and get to work! We will use high tensile electric fence and hook it up to the pony field fencing. The fencing supplies shouldn’t be very expensive and won’t put too big of a dent in the budget.
Build a barn
No biggie, we just have to construct a barn over a couple of weekends (oh, along with building fence and Farmer Derek working his paying 40 hour a week job). This also entails sawing out the lumber with Farmer Derek’s handy dandy Alaskan Chainsaw Mill (like this one) to build the barn with. By cutting our own lumber, we will save a lot of money. We will still need to purchase the hardware but the lumber is by far the most expensive element of the project.
We need to sit down and draw out a plan for it first. We have an idea in our heads and have discussed it in great detail but it is always a good idea to have a sketch with such a big project. It won’t be a very large barn, some might even refer to it as more of a shed than a barn but it’ll be perfect for Gertie.
Build a milking stanchion
We have settled on building a raised stanchion that is about 12″-18″ off the ground. Gertie has a low hanging udder so it will be a good idea to elevate her for milking. It’ll make the whole process easier on everyone. We were given some re-claimed decking boards by a friend who re-built his deck. This lumber should work perfectly for part of the stanchion. We are hoping to not have to purchase much to finish it up.
Purchase hay, feed, and minerals
I have been reading about what and how to feed a family milk cow. I would like to be able to grass feed only and add minerals but may need to supplement with some non-gmo, soy-free dairy feed. I need to get all of this stocked up and ready to go for Gertie when she gets here. We will be buying all of this from the local feed mill that we already work with. We are also looking into getting Chaffehaye (alfalfa forage in a bag). It sounds really promising.
How can one milk a cow with no milking supplies? I’d like to have a small bucket to milk into and a large pail to transfer the milk to while milking. I also need supplies to filter the milk into the jars. I did just purchase cheese and yogurt making supplies so I’m ready for the milk, just not the cow. That’s putting the cart before the horse or maybe just the milk before the cow. Either way, I need more stuff!
While we have enjoyed drinking raw milk for a while now, we need to make sure that we have a good process for handling it from barn to fridge. This will ensure that we have the cleanest and healthiest milk possible for our family.
This is just a basic rundown of what we need and what we have to do. Needless to say, we will be very busy around the homestead for the next several weeks (as if we aren’t busy already). We are beyond excited and looking forward to getting Gertie home.
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