Are miniature cattle useful or just ornamental? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

My friend milks goats but I've been told the milk is high in fat that can't be skimmed off as in cow's milk. Also, it tastes goaty. So I was wondering whether miniature dairy cows might work for homesteaders who don't use a lot of milk? I suppose the initial cost is too high to make them practical, though, right? Unless you could make a small business out of selling them? Anyone out there who's actually raised them?


-- Faith Battels (, October 16, 2000


Contact the breeders listed in Countryside , they have a free brochure and video available.

-- Jay Blair (, October 16, 2000.

There is a web site about miniature breeds of cattle which I checked out, just out of curiosity. The newer breeds are going for horrendous sums of money right now (you could buy a lot of milk for $20,000!!!). But Dexters, though still more expensive than a regular cow, are much more reasonably priced. I think there will be a need for these smaller cows for homesteaders, though I do like goats milk just fine. The only reason I would want cow's milk is to be able to get the cream off and make butter. If the goats milk tastes goaty, there is probably a cleanliness problem -- not to offend your friend, but she might want to invest in some dairy cleaner. Or, there was mention on another thread of cleaning the milkstone build-up with salt and vinegar. I haven't tried it yet, but the people who mentioned it say it works. Also, she needs to make sure the milk is thoroughly chilled, immediately after milking. If you get a cow, you will need to take the same precautions.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, October 16, 2000.

We raise Irish Dexter Cattle. This year we've had them clear out our brush, gave my husband's coworkers something else to tease him about, entertained our neighbors, cut two for freezer beef and even made some money from them. We don't milk any currently because we have goats and my small children can milk them. We find Dexters very practical.

-- Barbara Ternes (, October 16, 2000.

We raise Dexter Cattle, our small herd of 3 cows, a bull and their various offspring live in a practically wild state on 40 acres of woods sprinkled with grass (where it is open and the sun can get through), on very steep and uneven terrain. They are extremely hardy, they thrive and fatten on all manner of brush, weeds, grass and young scrub trees. Because they have such a great feed conversion ratio, they require very little hay.

They are friendly, fun, durable and provide our family plus another family with hundreds of pounds of quality, organically raised beef. We don't milk ours, but others praise the amount of milk you can get from these little cows.

Two thumbs up from me! Back40 Farmer

-- Back40 Farmer (, October 17, 2000.

I've done some thinking about this, too. How much milk is not a lot? My goat was giving a gallon and a half a day until I cut her back to milking once a day. Now she's down to a little over half a gallon. Her butterfat is about 3.5 to 4 percent, I would guess from the taste, and the milk is not goaty at all, as the many non-goat-milk-drinkers I've give it to can testify. As mentioned above, the goaty tast just indicates cleanliness problems or other poor treatment of the milk. Cream and butter are nice, but I feed a 150 pound animal and get plenty of milk. Even Dexters weigh 600 to 800 pounds or so, so you are feeding all that extra animal and getting maybe a bit more milk. But can you use it? Until I have pigs to give all the extra to, I'm sticking with goats. As for the more recent miniature breeds, they're incrediby expensive and, to me, a little scary.

-- Laura Jensen (, October 18, 2000.

Dexters give 3-5 gallons of milk/day.

-- ~Rogo (, October 18, 2000.

Rogo, are you sure they give that much? I've heard up to three gallons, and the one web site I found where the owners were milking one of their cows, she was giving about a gallon and a half, and nursing her calf, so that would probably come to about two and a half or three gallons a day total. I think a lot of Jersey's give three- to five gallons a day. Anyway, if the Dexter's really do give that much, maybe we should consider having one! (I want the extra milk for protein supplement for pigs and chickens, and to raise extra calves.) Right now, though, they are still more expensive than a Jersey. (Maybe more of us ought to start raising them and get the price down a little!)

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, October 18, 2000.

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