The Ideal Family Milk Cow:
How To Avoid Common Problems

Are you trying to decide where to get a family milk cow? This article will help save you from some of the major problems most families have when they are first getting started with their own milk cow.

Are you trying to decide where to get a family milk cow? 

I hope this article will help save you from some of the major problems a lot of families have when they are first getting started with their own milk cow.

I am going to show you what I learned in my own research. Illustrate from other’s first-hand problems and more. I hope by the end you will be able to start off on a better foot with your own family milk cow.

A Simple Milk Cow

We have long had a milk cow on our mental homesteading to-do list. And now it seemed like our next logical step.

We planned on getting a cull Jersey milk cow form a local dairy. We knew the owner. And he was going to sell us one for $800. A great price. We never researched it. We talked to him (the farmer) and it sounded like a great buy.

We would have our own cream and be so much closer to having healthy food right from our backyard.

We wanted to get one of them for a while. I am not even sure how many years. We talked about it every now and then. But we didn’t do anything to make it happen, so it never did.

Funny how it happens... But anyway...

Goats Couldn’t Cut It

Then we got some milk goats.

Are you trying to decide where to get a family milk cow? This article will help save you from some of the major problems most families have when they are first getting started with their own milk cow.Kids (baby goats) from our first kidding season.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, meaning I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. There's no additional cost to you, you're simply helping to support this site. Thanks for your help! :-) Read the full disclosure here.

A friend from church had too many and asked us if we wanted one.

A little while later we got two more. We were now milking three goats. We had our first kidding experience (which was a little crazy!) giving us more practical homesteading skills.

We loved goats milk. And still do. It tastes great! There isn’t anything wrong with it. Except we were still buying expensive butter from the store.

In the end...

We still needed a cow. 

Maybe It Won’t Be So Easy--Reconsidering

How did I end up researching this? I never meant to. 

Friends were telling me of their first-hand experiences. Some of which made me wonder. And I started asking questions.

First I started hearing about A1 vs. A2 genetics.

Our friends the K’s were going to buy a cull cow from the above mentioned dairy farmer. The only difference was they were going to get an A2/A2 instead of the more common A1/A1. 

By now you’ve got to be wondering what in the world is wrong with me? “What in the world are you talking about?!” And I get the feeling. I had no idea what all this meant at the time.


Here Is A Brief Rundown On A1 vs. A2 Genetics: 

An A1 cow has a mutated beta-casein protein in her milk. The mutated gene is said to be the cause of quite a list of health problems. Many less-known cow breeds, and ALL goats & mammals have the A2 gene. It’s not being researched as much as it should and there isn't much out there.

It is definitely something worth looking into though. Here's a link to get you started.


Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, meaning I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. There's no additional cost to you, you're simply helping to support this site. Thanks for your help! :-) Read the full disclosure here.

Then I talk to Mrs. M from church. She read the book Devil in the Milk, which is the main source of information out there on A1 vs. A2. 

After learning about it and testing her cow she found she was an A1. They ended up selling her for several reasons. One of them being Mrs. M couldn’t tolerate the A1 milk. And a few other surprising reasons...

All Cows Eat Grass!?! 

This one shocked me!

After asking Mrs. M what the other reasons were for selling her cow, I was shocked. She said her cow wouldn’t eat grass! Another reason she mentioned was they had to haul away tons of manure every week. In the end, too much work for not enough return. 

But I couldn’t get over the fact that her cow wouldn’t eat grass! 

Here in Arizona we plant grass and water it on a regular basis. We live in the desert and grass doesn't grow on it’s own. But by watering we do have grass. There wasn’t enough vitamins and nutrients in her grass. Her cow needed to be fed alfalfa hay (not a grass but a legume which is high in nutrients and minerals).

Expensive! 

Thanks to our modern commercial breeding practices, the bigger and the more output the "better", (which means...more input). Your talking TONS of hay. A lot of money for milk when you should be able to grow their feed on your land.

I decided I didn’t want a cull cow. 


What Is A Cull Cow? 

Cull cows are cows the farmer is getting rid of. In this case they aren't producing enough milk to make it worth his while. Example: They are only producing 2-3 gallons a day instead of 6-7 gallons. 


Either way you are feeding the same amount. If you'er getting too much milk you can sell the extra milk, helping balance the price of the feed. 

It looked like the most sensible conclusion at the time. 

More Against Modern-Bred Cows

I read some stuff online way-back-when, which was brought to my remembrance about this time...

Quinn from Reformation Acres wrote this great article. In it she said how they must feed their cow grain or she’d get sick and skinny. The article is great, but why would a cow get sick without grain anyway? 

I’ve also heard the opposite. Someone gives their cows no grain or less grain, and the lack of grain lowers their milk production next to nothing, but does not affect the cows weight. My basic deduction was our modern cows are bred to live on high concentrates... AKA lots of grains and rich alfalfa.

Makes sense, right? 


Why The Dairy Farms Smell... 

"If the manure is properly handled it will never smell." -You Can Farm, by Joel Salatin

Mismanagement is why the dairy farms smell so bad. 


Now commercial dairy cows are never on grass. They are packed into tight spaces. Fed tons of grains, alfalfa and the like, to produce as much milk as they can. Then they are bred to continue those traits. Until as it is now they need high concentrates to live. 

As a side note imagine how much farmers must do (with nasty chemicals) to make the milk “clean” and “fit” for human consumption. And also how many medications and antibiotics they need to keep the cows in “good health”. 


The Life Span Of The Modern Dairy Cow... 

"I was amazed to learn the...average number of lactations that the dairies get out of their cows is 1 1/2 to 3 at the most.  I really did not believe it until I talked to the fourth vet."  -Why Do We Raise Our Cows On REAL Milk? By Misty Morning Farm


Do I Want A Cow? 

I was starting to wonder...

Why are there all these problems with cows? 

I had a friend tell me, “Don’t get a cow.” They didn’t even have a cow! They knew about all these crazy problems from helping out with their friend’s cow. Among other things I mentioned already, I learned their cow had frequent visits from the vet.

Expensive...

Not worth it...

Forget it!

Has It Always Been This Way?

I wasn’t satisfied with that.

A few hundred years ago MOST people in America had a family cow. If they had any butter, cream, or milk of there own, they had a cow. Or they where rich enough to by it from their neighbors. There weren't any dairies with 187 cows each back then. 

They couldn’t have had all the problems I am hearing about. I don’t think the cows could’ve made it, without all the modern medical knowledge to fix them up. (Kind of a joke as the cows aren’t doing well now either.)

A few hundred years ago families weren’t growing tons of grain and alfalfa for their milk cow. Nor were they spending tons of money on vet bills. 

Something must have changed. 

Research... And A Discovery

 So I started researching. 

It took a long time. I kept googling different things, trying to come up with something. But there seemed to be nothing out there. At last I found... 

Misty Morning Farm!

Their site was a breath of fresh air. They talked about grazing genetics. They knew about the A2 vs. A1

They raised old fashioned cows! ;-)

I found so much helpful information on their site. It seemed as if all my questions were answered! 

There are cows eating grass. They don’t need tons of grain. They have a record of not needing the vet to come out every other week. (Well, not quite that much...but things sounded bad.)

Besides confirming my preconceived thoughts on the subject, I was also able to learn TONS more from them. You can learn more from those few articles on their website than you can from all the other websites I found put together! 

(I’m sure other great cow owners are out there. But Misty Morning Farm is the only one I found educating people on the subject.)

Is This What I have Been Looking For?

Having all this amazing information I was able to look with more hope on the idea of getting a cow... 

This type of cow would be a great addition to our homestead! 

Prior to this I was starting to wonder if it would be worth it to have one. They sounded like way more trouble than they were worth. I was excited to find someone who knew about the major problems so many people are having with their cows...And not only do they know about the problems, they have solutions! 

It turned out I was looking for them the whole time! Only I didn’t know it. :-) I deemed them my dream place to get a cow!

But I never thought our family would drive all the way out there for a cow. Sounds crazy! Who does that?

So I decided I would have to get in touch with some of our local breeders. I could ask them tons of questions and see if they knew anything, and if they were breeding for the same traits as Misty Morning Farm. I knew it would be another big deal to try and figure it out.

So I forgot about it for a few weeks.

Then It Happened...

There was a rumor going around in our family about the possibility of visiting dad’s family back in Virginia a year from then!

We hadn’t been back there in eight years. But dad was serious about it. In my mind we were going all the way back there...right? It made sense to me. Pick up a cow on the way back! But I wasn’t too sure how it would go over. :-)

I suggested it and although everyone thought I was crazy, I contacted Misty Morning Farm and started the process! :-)

A year later we went to Virginia and visited dad’s family. At the end of our trip we stopped by Misty Morning Farm and picked up a beautiful young Jersey cow!

Are you trying to decide where to get a family milk cow? This article will help save you from some of the major problems most families have when they are first getting started with their own milk cow.

There's still a lot to learn. I am looking forward to all the cream and learning in the future. ;-)

I'm glad to have accomplished yet another step toward growing our own healthy food right in our backyard.

Until next time...

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