The addition of animals to our off-grid home is what made our beautiful piece of land feel like a real homestead. Even before we moved onto our land, we raised 10 chicks, and we had a chicken coop set up before we had a house to live in! We keep a variety of animals for the joy and companionship they bring to our lives, but more importantly for the food security they provide. We raise chickens and ducks for their eggs, lambs and pigs for their meat, and a homestead dairy cow for her milk.
Many people wonder whether a goat or a cow is more ideally suited to a small homestead, and having raised both animals, I think that is a very complicated question that is as much about your personality and affinity for a certain animal as it is for your homestead infrastructure.
I have to admit that I have a soft spot for goats, particularly Alpine goats, as we raised them for many years, and even took them out backpacking in the Oregon wilderness. But our wide open hilly pasture is really well suited for a cow, and we were excited to use portable electric fencing and rotational grazing, rather than create the bomb-proof fencing that a goat herd requires. Add these factors to the infinite versatility of a family milk cow (cream! butter! cheese! ice cream!), and we decided that a Jersey milk cow would be perfect for our family’s needs.
Adding a cow to your homestead is a big decision. You will want to make sure you have the infrastructure, education, and finances to take care of your beloved bovine. Today, I’ve assembled some of my favorite resources for cow selection, care, calving, and milking. Enjoy!
Preparing for your Homestead Milk Cow
When Will my Cow Calve?
Milk, Butter, and Cheese
Raw Milk Recipes and Resources
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