My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Monday, March 29, 2010

How now, brown cow?

So what would you choose? A house cow or a house goat?

I've been pondering that question for a wee while now. Of course, I've been pondering the bigger question too: "House milk-bearing animal at all?"

My husband hates goats. With a passion. It goes back to a wild goat-cull he went on as a lad, got marooned and ended up having to eat half-cooked wild billy-goat....enough said. He reckons he can taste 'goat' in the meat, in the cheese, in the milk. Not that he drinks much milk anyway, he's a bit lactose intolerant.

I've never had that much to do with goats, but they look pretty cute! They are also smaller, but craftier, than cows. Apparently they do a lot of escaping. Everything I've read says you need to have at least two because they are such social animals. Then there is hoof trimming, shelter requirements and the fact that they never develop a resistance to internal worms.

Cows are big. If one stands on your foot, you know about it. They also produce a heck of a lot of milk. But you can separate off the cream and make butter. Goat milk and cream doesn't separate very well. Cow's milk and it's products are more accepted than goat milk.

Cows don't climb and eat trees (which we have a lot of young ones) and they don't need as much company as goats. But they are more expensive to buy and they take a lot longer to produce offspring. However, said offspring is easier to sell or eat.

As for the time factor of everyday milking - well, I reckon that's ok. I'm not a highly motivated person but things that need to get done, get done. Like 'chickens will starve if I don't feed them' versus 'nobody will starve if the floor stays unvacuumed'. Also, if you keep the calf/kid with mum then just lock it away for the night or a few hours, you can go away for a night or two and not worry about mastitis etc. You also get a naturally reared animal - much easier for you and much healthier for them.

The locking away thingy also brings up another point. I have no yards and no milking stand or crush. So the bigger the animal, the more expensive to build what I need.

I have a wee jersey heifer called Gloria, but it will be another year before I can get her in calf and then another nine months before I potentially have milk - and I'm itching to get into it now.

Oh so much to ponder!!

Anyone got any thoughts on this?


  1. It's not that I don't like goats, I do and have often thought about one. However I'd go for the cow option.
    We have a crush but it's so knackered we hardly ever use it - in fact we've never used it. Everything that's needed done has been done without it.
    Also having had the pleasure of straight from the coo milk - yum - and the cheese - yum.
    Also your hubby hates goats!
    oh and nope - annoyingly we've had no rain at all - it's pretty windy though and grey. but none of the wet stuff coming out of the sky.

  2. ms lottie, you sound so much like me.I have 3 goats, and we love them as much as our dogs. They are so spoiled and simply pets. We've got them to help keep the undergrowth trimmed back.They do a great job at that, but you are right about the escaping. We have 4 strands of electric fence and they rush under it so fast, it doesn't shock them at all.And sometimes they get confused on what is weeds and what is flowers. They love to be around people. When anyone is out where they can see them, they are right in the yard to visit.When it comes to raising animals for food, I can't stand to look it in the eye every day,and call it by name, then kill and eat it.No way!I'll just buy my meat.

  3. omg, what a wonderful question. But first, your Gloria is gorgeous! I have wanted a jersey cow forever!

    I had goats in Washington state, 3 of the darlings, and milked one on a twice day basis. She was a swiss and had twins and still gave me a gallon of milk daily. When she saw me coming with the bucket, she literally ran for her "spot" and ate while I milked her. The kid at home that loved the milk left, so I continued to milk her PAST a year and gave the milk to the pig. Whoa! What a fat little porker!

    So the Good, Bad and Evil:

    Goats are faithful, funny and are generally good with children. Their gestation is much shorter then a cow. Goats only take 5 1/2 months to birth. Cows 9 months. You can teach your children so much with the entire life cycle easier with goats. They birth much easier then most cows and alot of the time have twins. Bonus. Goats milk tastes as wonderful as cows milk. If an infant, on formula, is given cow based formula and is allergic, goats milk it is! It smells and tastes much better then soy milk, and cheaper too. You can check with your country/state/county and find out your local guidelines for selling the milk. Your two kids can't drink over 1 gallon a day! Here in Texas, you can't sell goats milk without jumping thru a ton of hoops first. You can sell to the neighbor or the guy down the street, just not commercially. Your spouse would probably find he can digest goats dairy products without difficulty...yeah, I know! I know a lady in Wyoming, USA, that makes butter, ice cream and cheeses from goats milk. She has a fantastic blog, that details her findings with goats. Before you buy any goats, check her blogspot, you won't be sorry.

    The bad thing is you do need at least 2 of them or they will bug the sweet Jesus out of you. You really don't want a Billy goat. They smell nasty (some of them), and will butt you if it's mating season. The doe will get rather, um amourous and will butt you as well as the buck.

    The ugly thing about goats...I can't think of any. They are awesome. But, since you have little people, you can teach them how to milk, brush the hair and clean the teats prior to milking. They WILL drink the milk if they are given some responsibilities with their care.

    Sorry I get so mouthy! But, being in your shoes, I would buy a couple pregnant goats, and continue raising Gloria to be a mom, and build a small lean to shelter for your girls, until you can afford a proper cow enclousure/barn. Can you find anything (in the US we call them cattle panels) that will keep the little dickens in? Even the chicken wire would be effective.

  4. I tried making butter with some goats cream from the farmer's market and it did not work at all, it was sooo thick I had to cut open the bottle to scrape it out. I should have just used it on bread like that.

    You might find hubby can tolerate raw cows milk better than pasturised. And would he eat/drink any of the goats milk products, due to his aversion? I had some real sheep's cheese the other day and could taste the sheep, it was very strong, not my thing at all.

  5. Hi Ms Lottie, I totally understand your dilemma. I grew up on a dairy farm and love fresh cows milk, although I am a goat girl at heart. There is something about goats - they have such interesting personalities and really add character to the home. Our girls love our two goats (unfortunately not a milking breed), and they are teaching them a lot about animal care. The hoof trimming is easy, nothing to it. If it were me, my choice would be a milking goat and friend to start off with, as like you said..not as much infrastructure needed to start with (and my husband has nothing against goats). For us, there would be no reason why a house cow couldn't come later, if the milking thing takes off and finances are agreeable.

    The only concern I have, is that I think we would prefer the taste of cows milk over goats, but that is something that we could (would!) adapt to.

    Good luck with your decision, Christine. (Found your blog via DTE - great kitchen, and your bean harvest is 100% more than we managed to grow, lol! Pesky slaters).

  6. Hi, got here via DTE...

    go the cow. I'm with your DH ... everything goat tastes of goat - yuk! (But I'm probably about to buy 1 or 2 mini goats for my son, not to milk though.)

    As for cows and trees, don't be deceived, cows eat trees. Have you ever noticed how trees in cow paddocks have flat bottoms? They've been nibbled. And failing that, cows will bit the tops off your young trees just because they can! grrr, ask me how I know!

    But depsite all that, I love my cows. I've only been a cow owner for 12 months, but I love it. I have a dexter that I milk, the smallest breed of cow. Great for a family as the milk side isn't overwhelming. At the moment I milk 3 litres per day but when I come home from holidays soon I'll boost that up to 4 or 5 so I can have a go at cheese making etc. Yum.

    Also, dexters are easier to manage with being small and all. I don't have a crush yet either, but I have figured out how to down a cow with ropes and that's probably what I'll do to get her preg test done ...

    good luck, and I say go for it! You only live once and if it's a total disaster, you can always sell her.

    Missy :-)

  7. Never been a fan of goats myself, I remember being consistently bumped/butted by a pet goat in the middle of the night on the way to the outside toilet as a child - it became an almost chilling adventure each night! So, I'd go the cow. You know what they're going to do. Mostly.


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