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We used to have a family milk cow and I sure do miss her! When we moved from Virginia to Florida, she went back home to Tonya because we just couldn’t bring her with us. That was such a sad day. We have been able to acquire goats since we moved but we would love to have both an (a2/a2) family milk cow along with our goats one day.
Our family milk cow was named Gertie and I just loved her and still do. What she brought to our homestead and offered to my family was just priceless. I see owning a family milk cow on the homestead as such a valuable (maybe even the most valuable) resource for my family and our farm. Here are my top reasons why I owned a family milk cow (and maybe you should consider one too) and why I want to add one again to our homestead.
6 Reasons to Have a Family Milk Cow
1. Milk and Dairy Products
The first and (I think) most obvious reason to own a family milk cow is for milk. Fresh, clean raw milk has so many health benefits. The milk alone is such a wonderful product but we can’t forget all of the things that can be made with milk; cheese, kefir, yogurt, butter, buttermilk, sour cream, ice cream…….. I could go on and on but I know we are all just getting hungry.
Not only can this wonderful milk nourish my family (it tastes pretty amazing too!). It also offers nourishment to the other animals on our homestead.
We can use extra milk (not that there would be any extra milk very often) to feed our chickens and/or pigs. We also used the leftover whey to feed our other animals or fertilize plants. We sometimes soaked animal feed overnight with it. Talk about a gobble fest when they got fed.
AND who doesn’t love homemade ice cream? That is enough in itself to own a cow!
We prefer to keep our milk raw, check out how we handle raw milk to keep it clean and fresh.
Since I’ve already gone and made you hungry I’ll just make it worse (you can thank me later). When you own a family milk cow, you will need to have said cow bred, to continue getting a sufficient amount of milk. The resulting calf can be a great source of home raised, grass-fed beef if it is a bull calf. If it is a heifer calf, she could be sold and the money used to purchase beef or a steer to raise for beef. Or you could keep her and have all the family milk cows!
Typically, a family milk cow will be bred each year. This would provide your family with the ability to raise all of your own beef. You can choose to cross breed with a beef type bull for more meat yield.
Just think of all of the ground beef, steaks, briskets, steaks, ribs, steaks, loin, and did I mention steaks? That is some good eats ya’ll!
3. Pasture Management
You can also use your cow (or cows, whatever the case may be) to manage your pastures. Between keeping the pasture growth level managed, the cow’s manure will fertilize and nourish the ground resulting in beautiful, lush grazing for your cow year after year.
I’ve explained how this works in detail in my ebook- “Pasture Raising Livestock- A Beginners Guide”
Being able to move your cow around to different sections of your pasture with rotational grazing is a great benefit to both the cow and the land.
The milk produces by your family milk cow on rich pasture will be so delicious and full of nutrition. The butter from grass fed milk…. amazing!
Similar to the pasture management, the manure can be placed into a compost pile to break down. This is an amazing additive to your garden soil. You will have some rich dirt with this mixed in and your veggies will love it. This is one of the richest ways to improve your soil.
You can also use the leftover whey from making cheese to fertilize your plants. Bonus, bonus, bonus!
Your garden will definitely rock it out with these additives.
Owning a family milk cow also enables you to generate income for your homestead. There a couple of ways you can do this. One would be selling the beef you get from calves or selling older steers on hoof for meat. If you have more than one steer to raise, selling one of them for beef would definitely help off-set the expense of owning a milk cow. If you have heifer calves, you can sell them as family milk cows. You will be able to get a decent price for your heifer and the satisfaction of helping another family enjoy the benefits of owning a family milk cow.
You may be able to have a business selling milk and milk products depending on your state’s laws. You can find more info on that by checking out the Real Milk website.
Something about sitting down to milk your cow just reaches into the depths of your soul. The warmth of the cow’s body, the sound of them breathing and chewing their cud, the connection with another living being, the connection with creation itself, it’s all an experience that can be lived over and over each day. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
Spending time with Gertie while milking her was one of my favorite things. I often reminisce on the quiet time listening to the melodic sound of milk filling the bucket. Sigh, such a beautiful sound.
There are about a million-billion-kajillion reasons to have a family milk cow but these are just the top of the list. I look forward to the day when we can add a family milk cow back to our homestead.