Should You Have A Cow On Your Homestead?

     Cows, like all other livestock, come with a certain commitment level. Depending on whether you choose beef or dairy, this level of commitment can vary. You will also need some specific tools to care for your cattle like fencing equipment, milking equipment and a corral to name a few. No matter what breed, a cow will give you a calf every year as long as she is bred. If it is a beef cow, there will only be enough milk for the calf. However, if it is a dairy breed, the cow will produce milk not only for the calf, but also enough for your family. All cows will produce beef, but the beef breeds are more muscular, making the final cuts larger and more tender. A dairy cow’s meat tends to be more lean because of their high metabolism and energy spent producing milk. 

      Cows will need a combination of grass, hay, feed and minerals. Depending on the breed and whether or not the cow is in milk, those amounts can change. They can also vary based on whether they are traditionally grazing on open pasture with hard fencing or intensely grazing behind electric fencing. 

     Another important thing to know is that cows need A LOT of water each day. And a dairy cow in milk needs even more. The average cow drinks anywhere from 25-50 gallons of water a day! In order to stay healthy and productive, cows will need access to water, whether it is a natural source like a pond or creek, or a water trough that will need to be filled through a pump or manually filled with a hose or buckets. 

     One last thing to know about cows. They are herbivores, eating only vegetation and grasses, with a four chamber stomach. Because they are a prey animals, they will mob graze, eating quickly as they move across a pasture and then find somewhere to lay down so that they can completely digest their food through the four chambers.

     Whether you choose beef or dairy breeds, or both, cows can be very beneficial to a homestead. To learn more as to whether or not you should have a cow on your homestead, check out this video!