Why miniature cows?
Miniature cattle are an excellent choice for the modern farm. At between 600 and 900 pounds these cows are easier and safer to handle. They also require considerably less feed, which means less money spent on hay and grain, and smaller pasture requirements. We keep our cows on pasture all year round, but supplement with hay when premium grazing is not available. Finally, they produce a more reasonable amount of milk for a single family. That's not to say they skimp on production!
How much milk are we talking about?
Our cows produce 1-4 gallons of milk per day depending on where they are in their lactation cycle and how often they are milked. What do we do with all that milk, you ask? We do not separate the calf from the cow, so the calf gets a large portion of the milk. Otherwise, what we don't drink we use to make cottage cheese, yogurt, hard cheese, sour cream, butter and ice cream. The rest goes to the chickens and pigs, or the garden.
We take the psychological and physical health and well being of our animals very seriously. We maintain a closed herd, vaccinate annually (or according to our breeding schedule) and test for major diseases in dairy cattle. While it costs more to keep multiple cows, we always do to ensure their needs for "living in a herd" are met. We strongly encourage potential buyers to consider having a companion for their family milk cow.
The debate over A1/A2 milk is on-going and comes up fairly frequently on raw milk forums. I will say that I have tested my animals for their milk protein because I'm curious, but it's not a strong deciding factor when I'm purchasing an animal. There are other traits and characteristics that hold more weight for me, such as their udder attachment or history of mastitis. Anecdotally, I personally have noticed no difference in digestibility or health outcomes as a result of drinking one protein type or another. That being said, it's something interested persons should research if they want to learn more.
Keeping A Family Cow by Joann Grohmam. This is a delightful read and covers just about everything you need to know.
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