Pets & Animals | 21 November 2016Why Keep a Cow? Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Cows are amazing creatures, and offer us so much. If you are ever planning to live off the land on your own, you should get a cow. Don’t know how to raise a cow? That’s fine, get all the tips and tricks in The Family Cow Handbook. Here is an excerpt about getting started! Photographer: Daniel Johnson Farming is about creation, whether it’s milking cows and raising calves, sowing seeds and growing crops, or being a steward of the land. Many people aspire to a self-sufficient rural lifestyle where they grow their own food and live in a less-pressured setting than urban life offers. Th is may be your dream too. Whether you own a small acreage or are planning a move to the countryside, there are advantages to including a family cow in your dream. Cooking with your own cow’s milk makes the meals you offer your family more nutritious and delicious. You can also create a home economy with foods made from her milk. The skills you learn by working with your cow can be personally satisfying and enriching for the entire family. By owning one cow or several, you live alongside and interact with other living beings in nature. It is a power that few people have the privilege to learn and understand, let alone experience. It doesn’t take the largest acreage or the most expensive land to raise a family cow. If you have a small acreage, she will do well so long as there is good soil that produces an abundant crop and has shelter available; or if you have a larger piece of land, she will be able to thrive on rough, rock-strewn soils if there are suffi cient grasses. Keep in mind that with only a small acreage available, you will need to buy extra hay to meet her needs during much of the remaining year when grasses are dormant. One acre won’t produce enough grass for her to graze and from which to make winter feed. Also, your cow needs daily exercise so a minimum of one to two acres is recommended. Your couple of acres of grassland can be processed through your cow and converted to food for your family. You can have a hand in making a vast array of products from her milk. And your family will witness the miracle of nature’s cycle as you progress through each year with your cow and her annual calf. Photographer: Daniel Johnson Before bringing a cow home, make sure you live in an area that allows livestock to be raised there. Most, if not all, towns, villages, and cities have ordinances that restrict animal agriculture within their boundaries. Therefore, a country residence is generally the first step in cow ownership, followed by being willing to commit your time and effort to provide your cow with all the comforts she’ll require. There are some practical dos and don’ts of bovine ownership. Equipping yourself with information and having a well-thought-out plan saves you from some headaches and disappointments later. Start your plan with a simple exercise. List all the reasons you have for owning a cow. (Sustainable lifestyle? Good for the kids? Money saver?) Next, put down your goals. (Constant supply of fresh milk? Make cheese? 4-H projects for kids?) Don’t worry if you don’t know a thing about a dairy cow or what you would do with her. Th is book will help you learn about cow care and provide knowledge of the steps to take to be better prepared. Do plan to devote time each day to care of your cow. Th is care includes milking her; providing feed, water, and a clean place to live; and observing for signs of discomfort or illness. You cannot justify the expense of owning a cow if you are simply trying to save money on food. There has to be something more compelling that drives your desire to invest in the capital costs involved and the time commitment required. There will be a partnership between your family and your cow. In return for the food, water, and shelter you give her, she will give you milk for drinking or processing, manure for composting, and a calf every year that can be raised or sold. If you expect your cow to provide a source of income, look beyond selling fluid milk (which may not even be permissible in your area). Consider value added products, such as cheese, butter, or yogurt, that can be processed for sale at farmers’ markets. Many people are already doing this, and you can too. The satisfaction value of owning and caring for a cow can exceed the costs of maintaining her. Starting and ending your day with her can be the pleasant and rewarding experience to compensate you for your investment and hard work. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Milking your family cow and experiencing the simple joys that comes with it are explained in this guidebook by veteran dairy farmer and cheesemaker Phil Hasheider. This book leads you through all the steps needed to make your dream a reality and the processes involved to make your own dairy products. You will learn the practical do’s and don’ts of buying a cow, milking, feeding, and assisting her when she gives birth to a calf. You may not have the experience yet, but time will take care of that as you learn. Your adventure starts here and this book will guide you along your journey with your family cow. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.