Many homesteading prepper families make the decisions to invest in a dairy cow for their property. This will provide plenty of milk for your family – and possibly extra for your pigs, if you’re raising those too. You can drink the milk, or create yogurt, ice cream and other items from her milk.
Each type of cow and size will produce a variable amount of milk, so you may want to find a smaller option (like a goat) if your family doesn’t use much milk. Or, if you live in a prepper community, you could share the milk with another family – along with the responsibilities of raising it. You need to milk it at the same time each and every day, so scheduling is important.
Some people wonder about the safety of drinking raw milk, but you can also buy a pasteurizer for your family to use. They’re not expensive and it will provide you with the same safety that you get off the grocery shelves.
It can get expensive to raise a dairy cow if you’re having to buy all of your hay, but many prepper families grow their own, so that cuts down on the cost of raising your dairy cow enormously.
You can sometimes go to a dairy farm and ask if they have any lower production cows they want to get rid of. If the volume isn’t enough for a dairy farm, they’ll often sell off the cows to a family that requires a much lower volume of milk.
Most families recommend that you get a Jersey dairy cow, but there are many options. You want one that’s gentle and won’t be hostile to you or your little ones in a farming situation.
You have to make sure that your property has room for her to graze and roam around. If you get a Brown Swiss or Dexter cow, then you can allow for more grass grazing than hay feed, which saves you money in the long run.
Your dairy cow will provide milk twice a day for almost a year. After about 10 months, give her a break for a few months and then let her produce another calf to begin milk production again.
Keep in mind that your water supply has to be significant to provide for a dairy cow’s needs. They can drink anywhere from 25-40 gallons of water each day. Make sure you have enough water for her and your own family’s needs.
Your dairy cow might produce anywhere from 2-8 gallons of milk per day, so make sure you don’t over-invest in something that’s going to make all of the milk production go to waste.