Thursday, 2 May 2013
Smallholding: Milking goat or cow?
So we had milking goats! Mona was a great goat. Easy to milk with a large blown udder, just like milking a cow. She give over a 5 litres a day and was a delight to milk. She was a large goat so was less inclined to climb and jump thankfully. Daisy was a different story! She was very excitable and would jump on you like a dog. She was restless at milking time. She would turnaround after or during milking quickly and drink all her milk in the bucket. She had been bucket reared! Her teats were tiny and it took ages to get less milk from her.
Both goats were well bred from good dairy stock and produced large amounts of milk. We later sold daisy and went through many more goats. But they were even worse and only give 2-3 litres a day. For us this doesn't make it worthwhile. We now realise that we were spoilt with mona and that her kind doesn't come by very often.
The biggest challenges with keeping goats were fencing, and keeping them out of the veg garden and away from anything you value, even your car!! They don't like grass but prefer hedges, trees, bark and flowers. They produced unwanted kids that were unsellable and had to be given away. The kids are cute at first but their climbing/ damage soon wears on you. We didn't enjoy the taste of the goats milk but the kids loved it and drunk large amounts of it and I made plenty of soft cheese from it. The milk was nice on the day of milking, but I don't enjoy warm milk. It developed a ting the next day and by day three it had a distinct goat taste.
Some time later we got a jersey cow. Again we were nervous about the responsibility and commitment involved. They are bigger and grumpier? But we were pleased to find out that a cow is sweet, calm and very generous with her milk. We first got Rosie, then Penelope and now Mama-moo. And I love cows! Sure they are a bigger investment but the calf they rear each year hold value and will fill the freezer or pay her feed bill for the year. Of course they need more acreage and there is legal requirements for testing and herd numbers... But they are great!
You will have so much milk, cream, butter, yogurt, cheese and ice-cream. Your veg garden will be so fertile with all that manure and your family will be healthy from raw, clean, whole milk. They are easier to fence and will help feed the hens, chickens, dog and cats.
People should consider what suits their personal circumstances.
Do you have much acreage?
Are you comfortable with large or smaller animals?
Will small children be involved?
Have you good fencing?
What do you intend to use the milk for?
For us Mona was a great goat and Mama-moo is a great cow. I would now never tolerate a bad, unruly or unproductive animal. Milking a bad animal makes milking a horrible chore, but milking a great animal makes it a delight. And it is the same investment in time and feed so you might as well enjoy it!
Many years from now, we might downsize to a goat but right now we love our cows milk.
I would love to hear other people's experiences.