Thursday, July 9, 2015

I Want A Dairy Animal

  I've come full circle. I'm ready to have a dairy animal again. Granted, there are a few obstacles in the way, like the fact that I live in town, no longer have ANY of my equipment, and have very little in the way of livestock-buying funds right now. But those are all minor obstacles that I have answers to, for the most part.

  No, the biggest issue for me is not where to put the critter/s (have two places available) or some such dilemma, but rather what kind of dairy animal to get! Goat or cow?? I really want a cow; financially, she would be the better option since I could easily sell and trade the extra milk. But... Cows are expensive, and I would need something like a Holstein/Jersey cross, or a Brown Swiss, since those are the two breeds I can generally tolerate milk from (for those into milk and all that, I have to have a cow that's specifically A1/A2. Any other kind is not nice to my stomach.). Jersey cows are abounding on Craigslist right now, and fairly priced. But I can't have a Jersey. *scowl* Oh sure there are some "HoJo's" and Brown Swiss for sale, but with the Swiss' averaging $3k, and the HoJo's around $2k, it really is frustrating to not be able to buy a little Jersey. Harrumph. Actually, I could buy a Jersey. But I'd have to pasteurize ALL the milk just to be able to drink it. Maybe I should go that route? I dunno'... To me that kind of defeats the point in a sense, as I'd really like to have access to raw milk. 

  Ok, so maybe a couple of goats? Go back to the old days? Well, I could. And might. But I wouldn't be able to sell or trade the milk, since people around here prefer cow milk (and trading milk for meat/veggies/fruit is a big reason why I want a dairy animal!). But at least the goats would be affordable. Or would they? If I got goats, then I'd suddenly need special fencing, a killer electric charger, really good shelter so the fussy ladies don't get wet, expensive hay.... But at least I'd know for sure that I could drink the milk. 

  Sigh. It's complicated. I think this post is becoming more of an incoherent rant. Sorry. I've been thinking about this so hard, for so long that I think my brain is just about fried.

 Anyway, feel free to throw in your two cents if you like. In the meantime, I'll keep scouring Craigslist.


Prairie Kari said...

I am happy to hear you are ready to get “back in the saddle” with a dairy animal! Two questions come to mind: 1 goats are notorious for getting out, what if something happens to the fence while you are not there like the power goes out and the goats get out? Would the landowners take care of this or contact you? 2 what happens when you have your baby and are on 24/7 baby duty which can be pretty intense for the first 6 mths at least?

Thinking outside the box – you know that saying why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? I remember reading about a Farm Sitting Coop service that finally allowed dairy farmers to take a wknd off or a holiday – things they don’t normally get because they could not find a person reliable and knowledgeable enough to take over the farm chores. Maybe you can set up a Small Farm or Dairy Farm Sitting service with wkly milk part of the deal or something like that? Or setup an Apprentice program - maybe you find someone with an acreage that wants to get into dairy and will buy the cow, or you find someone that really wants fresh milk too but doesn’t have the land or expertise and they become your apprentice – they provide the cow and you provide the expertise and some of the milking shifts then you will have someone trained up to keep milking when it’s baby time!

Goat Song said...

The plan for when my due date rolls around was/is to put calves on the cow, so that no milking is required of me, and we'd get a jump start on our veal business. If I had goats... Well, I guess they'd just have to be dried up. And yeah, escaping goats do present a problem, which is yet another reason why the idea of getting a cow is in the lead. I thought about getting a pair of Nigerians and keeping them in our backyard, but zoning laws in our neck of the woods don't allow that. :(

I like your idea about the "cow sitting" thing. I'll have to put my ear to the ground and see what I can find. My other idea was to find a friend to pay half for the cow, and we take turns milking + split the milk and feed costs.

Prairie Kari said...

I had forgotten about the veal plan so really a cow would be ideal in moving towards your long-term plans. Do the two farmyards you have access to have enough pasture to keep a cow(s) or would you have to supplement with hay too? That is a good idea to find a friend to share the cow cost! You could also put an ad up in the health food stores to find someone to partner with and likely get some milk customers from the same ad too! Or if you can sell raw milk in your state what about a Milk CSA?

Goat Song said...

I'd still supplement with hay, even though the pastures would probably be enough... One place has 10 acres, but no shelter; I don't know how many acres the second place has exactly, but has three large (like, 50'x100'), empty barns. I've thought about a milk CSA thing, but don't think I'd really need it. My SIL wants almost all the extra milk for her milk customers, and said I could sell my milk through her, and then I've got church members interested, and some farmer's market people too.

Kaia said...

Sooo I'm really curious about the a1/a2 thing. Not all jerseys are a2, but goats ARE! Maybe it's something else in the milk that goes by breed that you can't tolerate?

Goat Song said...

As far as I can figure, it really is the A1/A2 thing. I can have Jersey milk that's A1/A2, but those kinds of cows are getting hard to find these days... :-/ I did know that all goats are A2, but something's still different about their milk that allows me to tolerate it. I dunno'... It's just weird.