Author Topic: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat  (Read 4977 times)

Offline Mrs. ElyasWolff

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Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« on: October 20, 2008, 11:44:58 PM »
Has anyone had experience raising cows or mini cows? My husband and I don't have land yet but we are planning it and we were thinking of dairy livestock. Cattle seem like you would need lots of land and would cost a lot to feed is it worth the cost? And does mini cows cost any less to feed? Perhaps the better alternative is goats?
Lots of questions I hope someone can help me.
-C

keliz5000

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2008, 09:17:05 AM »
Has anyone had experience raising cows or mini cows? My husband and I don't have land yet but we are planning it and we were thinking of dairy livestock. Cattle seem like you would need lots of land and would cost a lot to feed is it worth the cost? And does mini cows cost any less to feed? Perhaps the better alternative is goats?
Lots of questions I hope someone can help me.
-C

Hi,
Me and my husband will be getting cows in the future and we have some farmer friends, so hopefully I can answer a few questions.  What I know about goats is they would be more high maintenance than cows just because they like to eat everything and they can escape alot easier from a field, so just be prepared that they may be more trouble than you realize. 
When you look into what kind of cows you get, I know that black and white cows are normally kept for milk because they produce a large quantity of it, but alternatively brown cows produce less milk, but the milk is a higher quality it tastes better, makes amazing ice cream for instance.  And if its just for you for instance that is still plenty of milk.
  Depending on the weather if you have grass all year long just alternate the cows in areas to keep the grass down.  I'm not sure about cost because I live in France the cost is probably very different, but here cows just live off the grass in the summer, and hay in the winter and hay is relatively cheap, a ton barrel cost about 10euros.  The cost of the cow is going to be alot higher than having to feed it.  We are actually going to get sheep soon before a cow for meat because calfs cost alot more around 500euros for a calf. 
Hope this helps.
Good Luck! 
Kelly

Offline ColdHaven

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2008, 09:44:51 AM »
My mother has about 27 acres of land and she has goats, and some horses. She probably only uses a half of that for pasture. Working with goats is time consuming. Think about the most bullheaded person you know and multiply that by 10. Goats can be a pain in the @$$. I took care of some one weekend for my mom while she was out of town. They are alot of work, they don't like change, and some almost got turned into dinner by the time that weekend was through.

That being said, they are a good source for milk and alot of times you do not have to worry about diary allergies with them. My mom makes goat cheese, ice cream, and other things from their milk. It takes some research to do, but it is a good thing to have if you can afford them. I have not had goat meat, but I know that they sell very well at the Farmers Market. My mom has made it very clear that if it came down to it, that they would be dinner, but she wouldn't ever kill them. I sneered and told her she had a volunteer for that job. Now I just need to learn how to skin and gut a goat. (Not to mention that the hide would probably be good for clothing, and blankets if you ever needed them. Hope this helps!

Offline Aunt Bee

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2008, 10:37:50 AM »
There are a lot of misconceptions about goats out there and I'd advise going to Homesteading Today where there are seperate forums for each animal and some very knowledgeable folks that can help you make the most informed decision.  I'll admit that I'm a goat owner and I love them but yes they are hard headed and don't like change but get them in a routine with folks they are use to and they can be a joy with peronalities that aren't unlike dogs.  The only time ours have gotten out is when we forgot to turn on the electric fence when we turned them out to browse.

They are much cheaper than cows and the milk is more agreeable for a lot of folks who are lactose intolerant.  Either way you go, do a lot of research.  I think goats have been fairly easy for me because I researched them for two years before I purchased them. 

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/index.php


Offline flagtag

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2008, 12:48:06 PM »
Great link!  Thanks.
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Offline Mrs. ElyasWolff

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2008, 01:59:40 PM »
THank you everyone for the great info!!! That really helps!!! ;D
-c

Offline DarkEyes

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2008, 06:15:58 PM »
Just curious, I've never heard of a mini cow.  Has anyone else had any experience with them?
Learn from the mistakes of others, you'll never live long enough to make them all yourself.

Offline Mrs. ElyasWolff

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2008, 07:22:48 PM »
It looks like no one has had experience with mini cows on this forum. So I am doing research and found a few good websites here is one with valuable info. http://www.miniaturebull.com/Why.html      On another site it said that they produce more milk for their size than standard size cows and also eat 1/3 that a normal cow eats. So far the only mini dairy cow breeds I have found our mini jersey cows and mini dexter cows.  Still working on finding out more but what I find out I will post on here.
-c

Offline DarkEyes

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2008, 10:10:58 PM »
That's a good link-they're so cute, I don't think I could eat one. Good for keeping your grass mowed and milk I guess.  I didn't even know there was such a thing.
Learn from the mistakes of others, you'll never live long enough to make them all yourself.

Offline flagtag

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2008, 10:22:58 AM »
That's a good link-they're so cute, I don't think I could eat one. Good for keeping your grass mowed and milk I guess.  I didn't even know there was such a thing.

You are right, they are cute.  Now, all one who owns some of the mini cows need would be some mini horses.  That would be a great farm.
"The hurrier I go, the behinder I get"

Offline archer

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2008, 12:45:53 PM »
And then some Bantam chickens to keep with the smaller theme!


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Offline Mrs. ElyasWolff

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2008, 04:32:31 PM »
Ha ha yes small chickens would be cute too but chicken is really good so I think I will get regular sized ones. :D
-C

Offline archer

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2008, 04:47:32 PM »
I want to get some within 6 months I hope.. Want eggs and meat as long as my kids don't know about it...


From a friend: Benjamin Franklin once said that beer is proof that God loves us.
I'm of the opinion that Redheads are proof that, contrary to popular belief, Satan also loves us.
My small blog: http://journeytogreenerpastures.blogspot.com/

Offline splinter99

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2008, 07:29:50 AM »
We have been looking for a heifer for a while, they are very hard to come by in this neck of the woods.  We did purchasre one at auction and it turns out she is a twin, so there is a 97%chance she is sterile.  She will be our learning cow.  So far I am much more pleased with the cow than I was with our goats.  They wsere impossible to keep in and they destroyed everything.
Goats do eat less and although I've never kept a bull, I can only assume it is easier to keep a buck goat, simply because of their size.  I would not personally keep a buck  goat again, they are disgusting.  But since the girls must be bred to produce milk, you may find it beter to have your own man as opposed to having an AI person to depend on.

Offline Aunt Bee

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2008, 12:42:06 AM »
http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/search.php?searchid=2005821

This links you to the forum I posted.  I did a search in the cattle forum using the word miniature and came up with five pages of posts.  Hopefully some will be helpful.

Offline garyb31

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2008, 02:30:32 PM »
OK, I see that this thread is a little on the old side but felt the need to tell of my experiences so far. We live on 18 acres, mostly wooded. We have a field that is about three acres, mostly blackberry thickets. We did some research on goat/cow/mini cow and we came to our conclusion based on that research. We decided to get a full size jersey cow. The prospect of trying to install fencing that would keep a goat in on our rocky super hilly property was not at all appealing. We considered staking the goats out and moving them every couple of days but with the bears and wildcats we have I can imagine a scene right out of Jurassic Park were the t-rex eats the goat with nothing but a bloody leash remaining. The Mini cow option was very appealing. After some research we found that there were no local sources for the mini cow nor a local AI guy to breed it. The main factors in our selection was availability of the cow and the ability to be bred either AI or another bull locally. Then there is the cost. You will pay a premium for the smaller size, which would be recouped in lower feed bills. So in the end we decided on the full size cow. Now, the term 'full size' when referring to a jersey is a little misleading. A full grown jersey is still very small when compared to other breeds like a Holstein. I am a smallish guy and do not feel intimidated by her. Jersey cows also have a very gentle disposition.

We bought our cow from a local farmer almost a year ago. We also got 3 bull calves with her. Our intention was to keep one of the bulls for breeding and eat the other two. After some careful consideration we did not want to keep a bull around just for the once a year breading and had all three of them castrated. Since they have been castrated they have been very gentle and easy to manage. We fenced off the field and some woods for them to graze on with 2 strand electric fence and they don't even try to escape.

I know that this is a little long winded so I will end here for now. If anyone is interested I can share our experiences with the jersey meat. Also let me know if you have any questions. I am by no means an expert but we have been learning a lot over the last year and I love to share what I learn.

P.S.
Another consideration is teat size. The teats on our cow are a little on the small side. I can imagine someone with larger hands than me not being able to properly grip them. I don't recall anything on the minicow teat size, but some goats have really large ones and some have really small ones and that will make a difference on milking efficiency if doing it by hand.



wkl9

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2009, 04:04:36 PM »
The first consideration for which type of dairy cow would be how many family members are there? A full sized dairy cow can/will produce upto 4 -4.5 gallons of milk per day,milking twice daily as recomemded. A minicow will produce 1.5 and 2.5 gallons per day, again milking twice per day. A regular size dairy cow will require at least 2 acres of GOOD pasture land per cow/calf unit. A minicow requires about 1-1.5 acres of GOOD pasture per cow/calf unit. minicows reach maturity, breeding age a little sooner than full size cows. That will reduce feed, as well as when they are grown they will require less feed. Minicows , depending on breed have different amounts of butterfat  cream etc in their milk, same as fullsize dairy cows. So as far as dairy cows are concerned how big is your family and how much milk do you want. 4 gallons of milk is a lot of milk and unless you have other farm animals that will drink your excess a mini or 2 would do. Pigs love the excess milk that can not be used.
If you are looking for beef the same is true for the feed and age. One other benefit of the mini is that at slaughter time the average return of processed beef is about 60-65% of live weight where the average for a full sized beef is in the 50-60% range. When you consider that it takes less time to raise the mini than a full sized beef, the mini wins hands down. ull sized beef takes 18-24 months where a mini takes 10-14 months. If you are worried about the taste and texture of a mini, the only thing different about them is their size, not taste. well most mini farmers that raise and sell their beef charge extra as SOME tests point to better nutricinal values for minis. As for the beef, there are mini angus, mini herefords etc, and the dairy side has the mini holsteins (the black and white ones) and others. The way it was explained to me was if you have a mini farm go with mini animals. If you have lost of land, go with the full sized animals. What else do you plan to do with your farm land? less pasture means more for "truck" farming or the end of the lane produce stand for sale.

wkl9

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2009, 04:06:47 PM »
you can look up minicows on the web using you search engine. They are becoming more available all the time in the midstates region of the US.

Offline Jack Crabb

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Re: Cows vs mini cows vs goats ... dairy and meat
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2009, 10:13:35 PM »
Years ago there were all kinds of breeds of cattle, pigs, chickens, etc.  As farming became more specialized, the breeds were reduced in number, and the surviving breeds were changed through selective breeding to fill a very particularized niche - egg production, milk production, weight gain, etc.  The selective breeding of domestic turkeys has yielded animals with high quantities of desirable breast meat (let the snickers begin) but left them incapable of natural reproduction.  Lard was in great demand decades ago and the pigs were breed for high fat content.  People now want leaner meat and the pork industry has brought leaner hogs.

The Holstein cow can produce all kinds of milk (as well as manure).  They also need all kinds of food.  The Hereford and Angus steer has great weight gain and high quality flesh, but requires lots of high quality feed to do it.

For homesteading/small farm circumstances, some of the older/heritage breeds are more economical.  It is easy to produce milk and meat when the grain and high quality feed is being pushed to the animals.  But, how will they fare on grass and hay? 

Jerseys and Guernseys are small cows, eat less, and produce less milk.  However, on a basis of input to output, they do well.  There are Dexters, Milking Shorthorns, etc.  These, and other dairy breeds, are not used in commercial dairies.

There was a disease outbreak several years ago in the Caribbean Islands.  US pork producers wanted the foreign pig herds eliminated to prevent the spread of disease.  The industry offered to replace the hogs with US factory farm hogs.  Problem was, the US hogs needed a higher quality of diet and housing than what the people had.

Up through about WWI, the US diet was largely grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Coming into WWII, new machinery, seeds, fertilizer, etc. yielded too much grain for human consumption.  So, we started feeding it to animals and moved to a meat based diet.

In the homesteading/small farm situation, you want the animals to eat whatever the humans can't.  For instance, in India cattle eat the inedible grasses and produce milk.  The cattle take plant matter that is not usable by humans and make milk/butter that is.

So far as utilizing the nutritional value of food most efficiently, humans consuming crops directly is more efficient.  Animals eating crops and humans eating animals is inefficient.  However, the "mini" breeds may be less inefficient than the usual commercial breeds.
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