Re: Milk for small homestead –> READY
Hi Ready Rog-
We have goats but the options were extensive to pick from – cows (which one?), goats (would I like the milk?) and dairy sheep (who’s milk tastes close to cow’s).
Cows are BIG and eat a lot. If you don’t have the space and can’t make your own food for them (hay and grains) then don’t think about it.
Goats – they thrive in most places and on junk food. However, the better you feed them (alfalfa, good grass and some grains), the better the milk tastes. We had our goats get into weeds and you can taste it in the milk. Same goes for raspberries – when they get into the berries, a few days later you can taste it in the milk.
Sheep are also easy when you can find dairy sheep. They are good to have with goats to clear land. Don’t confuse them with fleece sheep – you won’t get good quality fleece from them.
We have 1 milking goat (had 2 but I fed one too much grains and she got sick and didn’t make it). We pasturize the milk (homogenization makes milk molecules so small they scar the arteries and some say it is toxic). One goat is enough for a family of 3 and next year I’ll have 8 kids added to the herd (4 milking) and that will be 2 gallons a day (14 gal/wk = 2 gal for drinking and 2LBs moz cheese)
I’ve made with limited success a few cheeses, sour cream, ice cream and yogurt. One good dairy goat will put out a quart a day and give you 2 kids a year (can be raised for meat). We choose them because they are the less fussy and cost less than a cow. What milk isn’t used for something can be given to the chickens – who give extra eggs because of it.
The dairy is is process of being expanded. We made a vacuum pump for the dairy out of an old car AC unit, an old propane tank and a set of surge milking claws (easy to find in craigslist or on ebay). The vac will run off a DC soon as we switch over to wind power. We can milk 2 goats at a time and it cost under $125 for the surge claw sets (my total dairy costs were the surge set up and $125 for 3 goats – 1 male & 2 females = a LIFETIME of all the dairy we could possibly consume and more).
The housing is important since you need places for males, pregnant girls, kids and adult non-pregnant females. To keep separate becomes an issue so fence off areas before you get your stock in.