The dairy cows truly are my favorite part of the farm, and milking is my favorite chore to do each day. We have had dairy cows on and off since 2004 when we first got married. Nathaniel's family has kept a dairy cow much of his life, and his dad has as well. Homemade ice cream is a birthday favorite around here.
The milk cow provides so much for the homestead - milk, cream, butter, sour cream, ice cream, and a variety of cheeses. Milk can be used to make a chemical free milk paint, rear ophan animals(we raised an injured piglet last month on frozen milk from our jersey, Daisy) and is a great fertilizer for the garden. Pigs thrive on milk and whey soaked grains, which makes their meat very juicy! In order to have fresh milk every spring, she provides us with a calf each year. A heifer that can grow up and remain in the dairy herd, or a bull calf to fill the freezer, or train as an ox. And then there is all of the manure to fertilizer the pastures and the gardens. What could be more versatile? Wait until you come out to get your milk and Daisy tries to slurp you with one of her wet kisses!
We are going to try to breed our cows to that they are more like the cow of olde - ones that provide alot of butterfat, and a calf that marbles like an angus! How are we going to do this? Enter the Normande.
The Normande is a breed imported from France that is better suited to grass based production, and has high butter fat. We have ordered Normande semen from http://www.normandegenetics.com/ to crossbreed some of our cows with.
We have also decided on two new heifers, one purebred brown swiss, and a brown swiss/guernsey cross. They both first calve heifers, one due in May and the other in June. The brown swiss/guernsey crossbred will be AI'd with our Normande semen, as will a shorthorn heifer we have named Spotty. Daisy will be bred to a purebred jersey, and the brown swiss heifer will be bred to a brown swiss bull, so that we can test the two crossbred calves against the pure american dairy breeds, and see where to go next in our breeding program. We have decided not to use any holstein in our program, as they are too closely bred and have too many health issues to work in a grass based dairy. Brown swiss are second to holsteins in production levels, but are a much hardier animal, often times living and producing into their teens.
My camera is broken, but I plan to get a new one this week and add lots of photos to the blog and our facebook page - I know that text without photos isn't much fun! I also wanted to throw out there - If there is anyone who needs/wants raw GOAT milk, let me know. We milked nubian does when our oldest son Eddie was smaller and couldn't digest the cows milk. We would be happy to add back a few goats to meet the needs of our customers! Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.