[Podcast] Keeping a Family Milk Cow

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Considering keeping your own milk cow? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind before getting started…

While most homesteaders start with smaller livestock such as chickens and other poultry, or even sheep or goats, eventually, as your homestead grows, you may want to add a milk cow to the lineup. Especially if you have children, having your own source of grass-fed, organic, raw milk can be a very helpful addition to your farm or homestead.

The good news is, while you’ll need to at least have some infrastructure in place, you don’t need a large barn, a big pasture, or a milking machine to have your own milk cow.

In this podcast episode, homesteader Melissa Norris discusses when and how to milk a cow, how to store the milk, and what to do with all that delicious excess milk when your cow is in full production.

Here are a few considerations for keeping a family milk cow:

What breed to choose?

There are many different cattle breeds and while Holstein and Jersey cows are the most commonly recognized dairy breeds, there are also plenty of other good breeds out there for the home dairy, and they each have their pros and cons. You will want to do some research to determine which breed is the best fit for your family.

You’ll also want to think about whether you might want a dual-purpose breed for both meat and milk – especially if you are planning on keeping several cows.

How much time do you plan to devote?

If you want a plentiful and ongoing milk supply, you will need to plan to milk twice a day. However, you can also share the milk with the calf, and allow the calf to drink some of the milk so you don’t have to milk as often.

How much milk do you want?

The amount of milk your cow produces will depend partially on the breed you choose. However, on average, you may receive 1-2 gallons of milk per day if you share with the calf, or 3-4 gallons per day if you milk twice a day yourself.

Keeping your raw milk safe

As Jill says:

The most important thing when it comes to raw milk is cleanliness. Sterilize all materials and don’t use containers where contamination could build up (like in seams of a bucket).

The real danger of raw milk isn’t in the milk itself, it’s in the cleanliness and proper handling. If you think your milk may have been contaminated, throw it out or feed it to the animals.

You can store your raw milk in glass containers in the refrigerator. If you want to separate the cream for other purposes, you can skim it after 24 hours and put it in a separate container. Milk can also be frozen for later use – just make sure you leave plenty of head space so you don’t burst your jars!

How will you use your milk?

Besides drinking your fresh milk, there are numerous uses for raw milk, from yogurt and cheeses, to kefir, buttermilk, puddings, custards, and sauces. If you skim the cream, you can also make homemade butter, sour cream, and ice cream!

For more tips, listen to the full podcast here:


Source: MelissaKNorris.com


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