I know we have discussed keeping cows and goats in the past but here I am again going down the path of wondering about this issue as I try to make up my mind if and what I wish to keep? So I have made up a little sheet of the pro & Cons of keeping these animals. Am hopefully that those of you that keep either both or either will chip in with your thoughts so others can also gain a better understanding of requirements for keeping these animals. Those of you who know me, know that I had wanted to keep a cow or two (still want to I think?) but have also considered keeping a few goats but again with the latter have some possibly pre- conceived ideas about them and thus far have not taken on either though I keep coming back to the issue which must be an indication that I really want to. When we first brought a property I was so looking forward to getting a cow! While frightened bytheir size I think they're adorable and depending on the breed also provide extremely creamy milk that is perfect for cheese making! Goats though have never been high on my list of animals to keep. Still as after all this time I still can't make up my mind here is what I have been considering and I hope that those of you who are undecided yourselves, may also find some insights to help you make your own decisions.
- Quantity of milk would have to be number 1
The amount of milk provided for from a cow is the number one reason my DH is unwilling to take on either a cow or cows (that and he used to dairy farm)
- They're very calm on the whole.
I read somewhere once that cows have a zen like quality about them , they are usually very calm creatures,they’re friendly and for the most part & will let you walk right up to them and milk them, especially if you get a cow that’s already been trained for hand milking!
- They usually don't escape so are easily contained
My last pro I have to admit could be contestable as I'm going to say they won't escape easily though I have to admit my very good friend had this one cow that seemed to be a bit of an escape artist so there are the exceptions to the rule I guess? The assumption here then is, less costs in fencing and re-fencing than you might have with a goat. They’re (cows)are not terribly fast, and really it takes a lot to get them to want to run. They’re friendly and not terribly curious about what’s going on across the fence on the whole. I guess what I am trying to say here is that so long as you have good fences in place there shouldn't be any problems with the cows.
- Smaller size
For me the size factor is a huge consideration, although smaller in size than a cow they require the same amount of room in acreage as sheep for grazing I seem to recall reading somewhere. Size still makes them perfect for the smaller properties.
The quality of milk with goats is also good though again depends on the breed of goat. Goat milk is much easier to digest than cow milk which makes their milk perfect for families with young kids. and even some lactose intolerant people are able to handle drinking goat’s milk. Because it’s easier to digest you get the nutrients as you need them.
- Budget Friendly
Depending on the type and blood lines of the goats you get it’s not outrageously expensive! I'm told the cost of keeping a few goats is much cheaper to cover than it is for keeping just one cow.
- Creamy Milk
Depending on the breed of goat their milk is very creamy and I used to love making goats milk cheese. The quality of creamy milk for Dwarf Nubian goats is around 6.5 - 10% fat.
I'm told that the Does do not need tobe serviced every year either in order to continue producing milk?
- Entertainment Value
This has to be up there with my chickens. They’re funny, seriously. Goats are very social, both with other animals and humans and they definitely can become part of the family. I could be sucked into watching them for hours (just like I can with my hens). I had a neighbour who bred goats and like everyone else who walked by their place would also go a bit more slowly past so as to watch the goats antics in the front paddock.
Now for the 'Cons'
Cream content of their milk
- While the quality of the milk will still be vastly superior to what you get at the store, it tops out around 6-7% depending on the breed. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, it won’t have quite the cream percentage as a goat, which means you don’t get quite the same creamy cheese and goodies as you would with goats either.
- They're Big
The large size of cows has always been a worry for me because as much as I love cows their size frightens me. It also means that means they need more room for housing, more food to feed out in leaner times, more likely to break your foot if they step on you! so I guess I’d much rather be bumped by a goat than a cow, even though they’re super zen that doesn’t mean accidents don’t happen.
Require a lot more vetinarian care
- Cows, whether they are for dairy or beef, require a lot of veterinarian care, they require a lot more shots, check ups, and costs when something does go wrong.
- If you don't have your own bull then there are 'Studding' fees and they can be a lot more expensive with a cow, not to mention the blow to the bank if it isn’t successful on the first try!
Higher up Front Costs
- It can costs between $900-$3000 to buy a cow versus $300 at most, for a goat! If you’re just starting to develop your property on a budget, you might not be able to swing that right away (we certainly couldn't).
I'm sure those of you who keep goats would say there aren't any well maybe but ther are a few for the rest of us to consider such as
- Quantity of milk from your goat. These ladies are obviously smaller than their bovine counterparts so you won’t get nearly as much milk out of one goat as you would out of one cow. This is a problem if you are a big family of milk drinkers, or don’t enjoy milking a lot of goats to get the same volume of milk as you get from one cow.
- They’re houdini’s
You better have secure fences, or lots of room for these girls because they are quite clever. Some could see this as a good thing but for other people it could be really annoying, particularly when it comes to your neighbours properties. Goats can climb, jump, sneak around klike a ninja and will try everything under the sun to get to the other side of the fence just to see what is over there while a cow isn't usually as pedantic about doing this.
- Male Goats are a pain to keep around
They can be quite ornery, smelly & troublesome creatures. I certainly don't want any males goats here and would rather pay for a stud service so I guess this would add to their cost a little.
Ummn! reading this I can see that maybe I am talking myself into buying 2 or 3 goats and out of the lovely doe eyed cow I have been dreaming of?
Always seems to be some dilemma or other to think about. What do you think?