5 Myths Keeping You From Living The Milk Cow Life
In this series, I’m talking you through, step-by-step-by-step, the 5 most common myths about keeping a family milk cow so you can crush those negative thoughts and set yourself up for success.
By the end of this series, you’ll see that getting a milk cow is not only totally possible, but that it is absolutely within your reach.
In the previous posts of this series, we’ve tackled the following:
- Milk Cow Myth #1: I Have To Get Up At Dawn
- Milk Cow Myth #2: I Can’t Leave the Farm or Go On Vacation
- Milk Cow Myth #3: I Don’t Have The Right Set-Up For A Milk Cow
Those are all legitimate concerns, but totally manageable, I promise.
If you haven’t had a chance to review those myth-busting posts yet, well then, go on and have a look and then come meet me back here. I’ll wait for ‘ya (chuckle).
Myth #4: A Milk Cow Is Expensive
Before we get too far into the nitty gritty details of the cost/benefit analysis of milk cow ownership, the most important thing you need to know about an investment in a milk cow is this:
Don’t look for a deal.
You will be under that cow twice a day, every. single. day. You want to enjoy that time with her, not dread it. You want to find peace and contentment in the time you spend with your cow, look forward to it even.
Wanna know something? Milking is, hands-down, my favorite chore. And it’s pretty close to my favorite time of day (bedtime is pretty high up there too). It’s quiet. Just me and my cow. The routine is set and easy to follow. No one’s touching me or talking to me. It’s a glorious 1/2 hour that my soul relishes.
A proven family milk cow who is healthy, calm, gentle, patient, and generous is worth every penny. Every single one.
So don’t shop around for the lowest price. Don’t go to the sale barn and pick up someone’s cull cow for a steal. Don’t think a cheap cow means a good cow. As is true in nearly every other endeavor, you get what you pay for and when it comes to a milk cow, a good one is worth every bit of the investment.
What Does A Milk Cow Save?
This is the exciting part. A milk cow feeds everyone. But let’s talk first just about you and your family.
Think about all the dairy products you consume on a weekly basis. Milk (of course!), cream in your coffee (and yep, I mean creamer too), whipping cream, yogurt, butter, sour cream, ice cream, and oodles of cheese of all kinds of varieties.
Do a quick calculation – how much of your grocery budget goes to dairy?
- Milk (4-5 gallons) $25
- Yogourt (4 qts) $20
- Cheese (4-8lbs) $35
- Butter (3-4lbs) $20
- Sour Cream (2 pints) $8
- Cream (1 quart) $10
For most, the weekly dairy budget is somewhere in the ballpark of $75-120/week.
Now, if you’ve got teenage boys and can’t seem to keep milk in the house (not to mention ice cream #amiright) it’s likely on the high side there.
A milk cow’s average lactation lasts 10 months (we talked about her 60 day dry period in this post here). So to figure out how much having a milk cow will save on your grocery budget, multiply your weekly dairy budget by 42 weeks, like this:
$120/week x 42 weeks = $5040
Five thousand dollars.
Or if you’re a little more conservative in your dairy consumption it might look like this:
$75/week x 42 weeks = $3150
That’s three thousand buckaroos.
But Wait, There’s More
Having a milk cow will absolutely save you money on your dairy budget. But the savings don’t stop there.
Because you’ve got all that milk in the house, you’ll be motivated to make even more dairy-centric meals and snacks that will further reduce your grocery bill. Things like:
- Yogourt & granola
- String cheese
- Alfredo Sauce
- Ice Cream
- Chocolate Milk
Annnnnnd – she’ll be raising a calf, maybe even two. In another year and a half, you’ll have a freezer full of beef thanks to your sweet milk cow.
But that’s still not all.
A milk cow feeds the whole farm
I said earlier that a milk cow feeds everyone. I wasn’t kidding.
You can supplement feed for chickens and pigs with clabbered milk, skim milk, whey, and buttermilk. That will put a significant dent in your feed bill and reduce your off-farm inputs (and cost!).
Did you know that 1 gallon of skimmed milk (you get to keep the cream for butter – or ice cream, of course) contains all the protein a pig needs for the day? Same is true for whey. You can easily raise a couple hogs to fill the freezer with all the excess your milk cow will produce.
Skimmed milk makes excellent chicken feed. Soaking their grains in milk overnight reduces waste, increases nutrient absorption, and makes the most beautifully delicious eggs you’ve ever eaten. Or leave it on the counter for a couple days to clabber to improve digestibility and your chickens will be over the moon.
Lest you think it’s only animals who benefit from a milk cow’s presence, your garden will explode once you start adding aged and composted milk cow manure. Trust me, there will be a lot of it. The richest, blackest compost you’ve ever seen. And its nutritional value for the fertility of your garden at no additional cost to you can’t be matched.
What Does A Milk Cow Cost?
Alright. Let’s talk dollars and cents.
Expect to pay between $2000-$3000 for a good milk cow. Maybe a little more if you’re looking for a specific breed, particular characteristics, or targeted genetic traits (like an exclusively grass-fed cow).
By “good” I mean proven. She’s proven her worth and dependability. That means she’s had at least one lactation and is well-trained to milk. She stands quietly, is easy to handle, is in excellent health, has a lovely conformation, produces reliably, calves with ease, and keeps condition.
You’ll need to budget for feed & supplements (hay over the winter, salt & minerals to keep her healthy, and a grain ration if applicable). You’ll also need to account for initial equipment investments like a halter & rope, feed bins, milking pail, strainer, and jars.
And don’t forget vet costs. You’ll need to, at the very least, have her bred again within the year. You’ll need a few basic veterinary supplies (like dewormer, dynamint, and bag balm), and you’ll need to be prepared in case she faces a serious health crisis.
So what do the costs look like all added up?
- Initial Investment: $2K-$3K
- Feed & Supplements: $600
- Equipment: $150-$300
- Vet Supplies: $50-$250
Remember how she’ll save you over $5040 on your grocery bill alone? That’s a net savings of $890 in her first lactation. Every lactation after that, you’ll save between $2500-$3750.
Truth: a milk cow will pay for herself in one lactation.
Less than a year, folks. And that’s only counting the dollars in your grocery budget. Not the additional savings of supplementing chickens and pigs or garden fertility or beef in the freezer.
And – you’ll be consuming all that nutrient dense raw milk & dairy, the health benefits of which just can’t be calculated in dollars and cents (other than decreased doctor visits and money spent on medications).
A Milk Cow Is Food Security
All those supply chain problems and empty grocery shelves? Rising prices due to decreased supply and increased inflation? Those won’t phase you one bit.
There’s no question that sun + grass + milk cow = food. And lots of it.
All you have to do is turn her loose in the pasture, make sure she’s got clean fresh water, and show up to milk her.
She asks for so little and gives oh so very much in return.
Keep Learning in Milk Cow 101
You’re getting excited aren’t you? If you find yourself nodding along and thinking “Yes! We could totally do this,” I’m here to tell you you’re right. Keeping a cow is totally possible and absolutely within your reach.
If you’re catching the vision and eager to jump in and learn what you need to be not just one but a hundred steps closer to a pail full of liquid sunshine, join the waitlist for Milk Cow 101 today.
Bonus: that milk cow will give a whole heck of a lot more than she takes.
When you join the waitlist, you’ll be the first to know when enrollment opens and you’ll be ready to learn everything you need to feel confident and prepared to bring home your very own family milk cow.
I was soo thrilled to find your site and blog. I’ve wanted to add a dairy cow to our small homestead for a very long time. I’ve read about keeping a milk cow and of course watched every YouTube video I could find etc etc. but your posts and information really drill down to the stuff I think people want to know most. I can’t wait for Milk Cow 101 to launch !!!!
Raelene Bradley says
Thanks so much Rebekah! A milk cow is the queen of the homestead and feeds the WHOLE farm. There’s so much to learn and SO much to gain from adding a milk cow to your farm. I’m ALL for it! Can’t wait to have you in Milk Cow 101 soon!