Should We Get Goats or a Cow?

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I’m not an animal person. Never have been. But here I am, the chief milk maid in my family. I started out by milking goats and now I’m milking a cow. I figure, who better to tell you all about it (both the wonderful and the icky) than someone who was won over to it in spite of herself?

Here is one of the most often-asked questions I get: what are the differences between milking goats and milking cows? And probably the second-most-asked question is: which do you prefer? I don’t claim to know it all, but I’ll do my best to answer.

Read the rest of Should We Get a Goat or a Cow? One Homesteader’s Experience With Both at Nourishing Days, where I’m a guest today. Thanks for having me over, Shannon. :)

Be sure to let us know what you think about milking goats v. milking cows!

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  1. says

    Obviously, I’m going to say “get a goat!” but this is really a matter of personal preference. If you have experience with neither animal, do LOTS of research and try to visit farms that have goats, or cows, or both.

    For general management, goats are easier for us just because of their size. It’s easier to administer any type of medication or vaccine to a 150 lb. goat than a 1200 lb cow.

    Breeding…..bucks goats can be VERY dangerous, as can dairy bulls. Most doe goats will need to be bred and kid every year (we’ve had a few that milked over a year) to produce milk, so you either need a buck or access to a buck if you want steady milk production.

    Feeding…..goats prefer browsing to grazing, so you’ll need to know what your land is better suited for.

    Veterinary care……Make sure you have a large animal vet FIRST! If you’re not located in a predominantly agricultural area, one might be hard to find. We don’t use them a lot, but when you need one, you REALLY need one!

    Birthing…..sometimes our does need assistance, so we need to go into the uterus and pull out the kid. I truly don’t know much about calving, but can only imagine assisting the birth of a calf is WAY more intense. Again, research, research, research.

    Milking….again I’m going to vote for the goat because of their size. We’re also of the opinion that goats are much “cleaner” when being milked. Most lactating domesticated animals need to be milked twice a day. Goat, cow, or water buffalo, it’s a commitment, so it’s helpful to have a “backup milking plan” if you are unable to milk. I don’t know about cows, but goats are SERIOUSLY into routines, so the backup milker needs to know which goats get milked on what stand and in what order. They’re not real big fans of change or disorder.

    Milk……I’ll admit, goat milk can taste SERIOUSLY “goaty” based on breed (Swiss breeds, such as Toggenburg, can have STRONG tasting milk, but supposedly that’s what a lot of Europeans like for cheesemaking), or if the buck is in the same pen/pasture as the lactating doe.

    Also, do some research A1 Beta Casein in the milk of some cow breeds. Very enlightening.
    Just Google A1 Beta Casein.

    I hope this is helpful, not overwhelming. Anyone can email me privately with any questions.


    PS- Shout out to Wardee on an incredible website. Your site and videos are inspirational, informative, and very thorough and clear.

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