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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're currently buying about 3 gallons of milk per week.

I'm guessing that trading for that milk rather than having a dairy cow is probably the smartest route to take, but if that route isn't available what would you suggest as a path to getting that amount of milk? Extra milk could be used for cheese making I suppose, and for some butter and ice-cream and more is probably needed if we have to bake goods instead of buying in the store, but still there should be lots of milk left over, am I right?

What do farmers do with surplus milk that they can't sell? Feed it to the hogs and chickens?
How much milk can a small breed like a Dexter produce?

If I can't trade for it, my ideal solution would be to find a human use for the milk and find a breed that doesn't produce a lot (thereby also not eating a lot) - it seems wasteful to send surplus milks to the livestock feed process.

Any words of wisdom for me?
 

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Meoww
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From what I understand Dexters only produce for a short time. I would get a small Jersey cow. In fact I really want one. The average milk produced is 1 to 4 gallons a day for a small Jersey. What I mean by small is 46 inch to 48 inch in height.
 

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performing monkey
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I know many are averse to it, but have you considered goats?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I know many are averse to it, but have you considered goats?
As I grappled with the fact that a cow will likely produce too much milk for my family I did think about goat and sheep milk. I bought some goat milk from a local goat diary and it didn't go over too well with the family.

This brought me back full circle - no cow+trade for milk or small cow and find some uses for the milk we can't drink ourselves. What do people do with surplus milk?

I still have to track down sheep milk and give that a try. Maybe that is the solution.
 

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Remember a homestead cow will be different than a "dairy cow". A dairy cow is pushed to the limit where a homestead cow is not.

We would get 3 or 4 gallons per day from two Jersey cows ... With that we made butter, cheese and ice cream ... just for starters. ;) So thinking about it, we never had a surplus of milk. (always something to make. :D) Then we had 4 kids, that loved milk.

As for the goats milk ... try before you buy. :D (Then again the same thing goes for a cow.) A lot goes into the taste of the milk ... feed, weeds and the way it was handled.

Just a few things to think about.
 

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Just walking at the edge of my grave
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We used to have some Jersey's on our farm. I think they would be a good choice. Have you ever had raw milk? Milk from a Jersey is very rich. It's a little scary for some people when they pour some milk and get a big lump of cream! Would be easy for you to make your own butter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Remember a homestead cow will be different than a "dairy cow". A dairy cow is pushed to the limit where a homestead cow is not.
Good point.

We would get 3 or 4 gallons per day from two Jersey cows ... With that we made butter, cheese and ice cream ... just for starters. ;) So thinking about it, we never had a surplus of milk. (always something to make. :D) Then we had 4 kids, that loved milk.
So about 25 gallons per week for 2 cows, 12.5 gallons per cow. Our current consumption of milk for drinking is 3 gallons per week. I guess I can make a lot of different types of cheese with a surplus of 9 gallons per week.

What's the beef from a Jersey taste like? Tougher, fatter, ????

If I go with one cow though I'll have to contend with a period of no lactation every year, right? How short can I make that period?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We used to have some Jersey's on our farm. I think they would be a good choice. Have you ever had raw milk? Milk from a Jersey is very rich. It's a little scary for some people when they pour some milk and get a big lump of cream! Would be easy for you to make your own butter.
I had raw milk when I was a lad, which might as well count as a no in that I haven't had it recently as an adult. The cream can be separated for other uses, right? I haven't really sat down and figured out our consumption of butter, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, various cheeses, yogurt, etc but I seriously doubt that it amounts to 3x-4x our present milk consumption. Or are they so volume intensive in terms of milk input versus cheese weight output that it would surprise me?
 

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Good point.
So about 25 gallons per week for 2 cows, 12.5 gallons per cow. Our current consumption of milk for drinking is 3 gallons per week. I guess I can make a lot of different types of cheese with a surplus of 9 gallons per week.

What's the beef from a Jersey taste like? Tougher, fatter, ????

If I go with one cow though I'll have to contend with a period of no lactation every year, right? How short can I make that period?
You could breed one for fall freshing and one for spring, which is what we did with our goats. You always have milk ...

Jersey beef is grand ... (my husband said, longhorn was better lol)

lactation ~ is up to you ... I always gave my girls a break, some folks do not.

Now a few questions for you ...

1) Have you ever milked a cow or a goat?

2) Have you ever had to handle either?

3) Do you know how to make butter, cheese or even how to handle the milk?

Not asking to be rude ... just better how to answer you post. :)
 

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I had dexters and I like the fact they were very small, dual purpose - beef and dairy and were very placid. We were able to milk out in the paddock with just a few handfuls of grain in the bottom of a bucket to keep them still. No head bail was required.
We got enough milk to meet our needs and any surplus was fed to pigs who drank up any milk we gave them.
The dexter steers gave a carcass that was small enough to fit into a chest sized freezer once it was broken down and the beef was very tasty and tender.
The added bonus was that the Dexter bulls had nice temperaments.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Now a few questions for you ...

1) Have you ever milked a cow or a goat?

2) Have you ever had to handle either?

3) Do you know how to make butter, cheese or even how to handle the milk?

Not asking to be rude ... just better how to answer you post. :)
1.) For about a week when I was 10 and under adult supervision. Treat that as a no.
2.) See above.
3.) Helped a friend make some gouda cheese and saw him place it in his small home-built cheese cave (hobbyist) but no, it's not something that I've done regularly. Never made butter or sour cream, but have made ice-cream.

Here's where I'm coming from - I'm aiming to design a homestead system which can provide for a small family but, at times, would only be manned by one person (a retired parent living permanently in the home that is designed to accommodate my family) so I'm looking for rapid scalability if the need suddenly arises. I don't want to be hunting around for livestock as the world is in flames, I want to have everything in place or know where to get it in short order. The stored food on site will carry us for a year and then the land has to provide. What I garner from hunting and fishing will be nothing more than a bonus. My second goal is to decrease required inputs as much as I can, meaning I don't want to rely on commercial feed and such, so I want the land to support the cow(s), calf, a pig or two (enough to feed us), the chickens, a few turkeys, maybe some sheep and goats and rabbits, so I don't want to overtax the carrying capacity of the land, I want to have excess carrying capacity as a buffer.
 

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First ...thanks for being honest as where you are and where you want to go...

Second pick up a copy of Carla Emery's book ... The Encyclopedia of Country Living ... http://www.carlaemery.com/ (it is the best... imo)

It is easy to say you want to homestead and a lot different to do it ...

First ~ you need a second person (or a backup person) for the homestead chores ...It is no fun to have to milk if you have the flu, bad cold or what ever)... I telling you ... lol (I'm lucky to have my hubby or son as a backup person) ~

Second ~ If you are looking to start milking ... buy a tennis ball now, to get your hands ready. With that tennis ball you will "milk" for 30 minutes twice a day, get your hands ready now. (this is not a joke)

Third ~ research ... research and more research.... (no joke)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
First ...thanks for being honest as where you are and where you want to go...

Second pick up a copy of Carla Emery's book ... The Encyclopedia of Country Living ... http://www.carlaemery.com/ (it is the best... imo)

It is easy to say you want to homestead and a lot different to do it ...
Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll be getting it, or one like it, to add to my library.

Saying and doing, yeah, I get it. Raising livestock is my weak link, gardening is not, engineering is not, construction is not, etc. so I'm not a complete city slicker - I've been gardening and pressure canning for years. Added greenhouse gardening to the repertoire a while back and will be seriously expanding that capacity on the homestead site. While I realize that there is a learning curve involved, I hope that it won't be a huge one because I'm not intending to do this to earn a living, so the amount of livestock and the time I have to devote to their care shouldn't (I hope) be taking up all of my time.

First ~ you need a second person (or a backup person) for the homestead chores ...It is no fun to have to milk if you have the flu, bad cold or what ever)... I telling you ... lol (I'm lucky to have my hubby or son as a backup person) ~
I'm transitioning towards a telecommuting status for my work but that's not happening immediately. The situation is as it is - one person permanently living on site and he'll have to work things out with the neighbors in order to develop a local support system when I and my family are not there.

Second ~ If you are looking to start milking ... buy a tennis ball now, to get your hands ready. With that tennis ball you will "milk" for 30 minutes twice a day, get your hands ready now. (this is not a joke)
So your opinion on portable milking machines is, what? Not worth the bother for so little milk?

Third ~ research ... research and more research.... (no joke)
That's why I'm here, pick the brains of people who know more than me.
 

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We used to have some Jersey's on our farm. I think they would be a good choice. Have you ever had raw milk? Milk from a Jersey is very rich. It's a little scary for some people when they pour some milk and get a big lump of cream! Would be easy for you to make your own butter.
Yes, we skim off the top of our Amish milk.
 

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performing monkey
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I haven't really sat down and figured out our consumption of butter, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, various cheeses, yogurt, etc but I seriously doubt that it amounts to 3x-4x our present milk consumption. Or are they so volume intensive in terms of milk input versus cheese weight output that it would surprise me?
In my humble experience, it takes 2-3 gallons of milk to yield the cream to make only 1 pound of butter. It takes 1.5 gallons of milk to make cheese

FYI - 1 pound of butter is only 2 cups

I saw you mention sheep's milk earlier, so... consider another difference among the three milk types: you'll only see that rich, thick layer of fat-filled cream rise to the top of cow milk. This signifies that the milk is unhomogenized. Goat and sheep milk, on the other hand, is naturally homogenized, meaning that the fat globules in these milks are smaller and don't separate from the less-dense, water-based components in the milk. Most cow milk goes through a process of homogenization before it's sold, which fuses the cream with the milk for a totally emulsified liquid. The fact that cow milk is naturally unhomogenized explains why you can find cheeses made with part-skim cow milk. It's not so easy to skim the fat from goat or sheep milk.

FYI (part deux) - average fat content of whole milks per (8oz)cup

goat: 7g
cow: 8g
sheep: 10g
human: 10g (cuz it was there... and I found that FUNNY)
water buffalo: 15g :dunno: :rolleyes:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ad/Milkproducts.svg
 

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I would recommend sheep, i was milking a dorper ewe, and she gave me 3/4 of a quart daily, I made yogurt, drank milk and froze some for future soap making projects. It is thick and creamy, contains more vitamins and minerals, and freezes well.

Sheep's milk is naturally "homogenized" so it isn't good for making butter, I did notice a little separation, but not enough to functionally separate it.

Some wool breeds will carry the taste of lanolin through their milk and it won't have a very clear taste.

A cow was gifted with larger teats for easier hand milking, but it's not difficult to find an equally gifted ewe. A cows teats are much harder then sheep tears and leave a persons hands sore at times. With experience milking 180 Holsteins (that are milked 3xdaily) a cow that's extremely used to milking can still be kicky and dangerous...a sheep can also be, but a sheep can easily be manipulated whereas a cow might not be.

Sheep are much cheaper to keep, we keep 50 sheep and use 1/4-1/3 of the amount of feed our 15 cows take. Lambs are ready to slaughter between 2 and 6 months, calves take a year. Sheep will happily browse on weeds cattle wouldn't consider including young burdock and thistles.
 

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performing monkey
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Sheep will happily browse on weeds cattle wouldn't consider including young burdock and thistles.
:scratch I must've had mutant cows... :lolsmash:

... they had NO problems eating thistles, not young thistles, mind you, FIVE FOOT TALL purple bloomers, with what I swear were hypodermic needles growing out of them! :eek: :gaah: ;)
 

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Have you considered partnering up with a neighbor? Our biggest obstacle is finding someone who is knowledgeable and dependable. You can share the cost of the cow, milking duties, feed and the milk produced. A dairy cow should keep three families supplied with milk. Get a breed that gives lots of cream. Remember, you'll be married to whichever animal type you choose. We milked twice daily, every day. No vacations or days off.

As has already been said, be sure to try goat and sheep milk before you commit yourself. They do taste different. I like goat milk if I mix some Nestle Quick with it.
 

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So your opinion on portable milking machines is, what? Not worth the bother for so little milk?
I never have used a portable milking machine, so I'm no help there.
 

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A couple of things for new farmers- cows break stuff. They seem to go out of their way to break stuff to make your life harder. Cows will try different things to eat. They are not very picky eaters. Down here (beef)cows eat prickly pear cactus all the time. I was a happy camper when we decided to stop having cows on our farm. Bobbb, I don't know where you live but you might want to investigate the prices for hay and feed in your area. Down here hay is $15 to $25 per regular square bale.
 
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