The idea of having your own milk source is appealing to many preppers. You can have a never ending supply of dairy by keeping a milk cow or a goat on your homestead. When deciding on which animal you want on your property, there are many factors to consider. Both cows and goats have their own list of pros and cons so this is a decision that is really individual to each prepping family. Give careful consideration and decide whether you want a cow or a goat based on your budget, property size, and other limitations. Today, we are going to look at some of the major advantages and disadvantages of cows and goats so you can figure out which one is right for your homestead.
Pros and Cons of Dairy Cows
When you think of milk, you probably automatically imagine cows. It’s the natural first choice for someone who wants their own milk source. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to having your milk come from cows.
Pro: Cows produce a lot of milk.
This can be both a blessing and a curse. It can be very easy to find yourself overwhelmed with too much milk if you have more than one cow. A bonus to having lots of milk is that you can use it not just for drinking, but to make cheese, ice cream, butter, and yogurt.
Pro: Cows are easy to fence in.
Cows don’t require a lot of elaborate fencing to keep them corralled. They do need a large area to graze, so if you don’t have a big enough space, that could become an issue, especially if you have multiple cows.
Con: Dairy cows are expensive!
Cows are the more expensive animal to purchase initially, which could be a roadblock if you want a milking animal, but are on a tight budget. They also eat more than goats, so feed could get costly, if you don’t have a large enough pasture to keep them fed on grass alone.
Con: Cows Are Difficult to Move
It’s hard to transport cows without a proper trailer, so that could prove problematic if you need to move them from the farm.
Pros and Cons of Milk Goats
Goats’ milk is also an excellent choice for consumption, and raising milk goats can be a wonderful addition to your homestead. If you’re considering milk goats, they do differ from their larger counterparts – cows – but bring many positives to the table. Here are their pros and cons.
Pro: Goats are Easy to Transport
Since they are a smaller animal, they can be easily transported even in a van, so you don’t need large trailers/trucks to move them.
Pro: Goats Are Less Expensive
Purchasing a goat is a substantial investment, but it still will end up costing far less than a dairy cow. Goats don’t eat as much as cows, so feed costs will be less, especially if they are pasture fed. Over time, the cost savings would really add up.
Pro: Goat Milk Packs a Nutritious Punch
Goat’s milk is delicious and rich in nutrients, and some say you can’t tell the difference in goat’s milk and cow’s milk in many cases. It’s also a good solution if you have someone in your family with an allergy to cow’s milk.
Pro: Goats Don’t Require Much Space
Goats don’t need as much pasture or barn space, since they are smaller animals. You could easily have a few goats in the space that one cow would need.
Con: Goats Produce Less Milk
Goats don’t give as much milk as a cow so they would be a good choice if you don’t want lots and lots of milk, or if you have a small household. If you want to produce a big supply of milk, you will have to get several goats to keep up with the quantity you desire.
Con: Goats Love to Escape
Goats can be escape artists so you will need very strong fencing that cannot be easily overcome. You might also consider electric fencing. Another possibility for goat owners is to raise a dog to herd the goats back to safety in case they try to get away. Australian blue heelers would be a perfect breed for this task.
Which Should You Choose?
As you can see, there are many things to consider when choosing cows or goats. By weighing the pros and cons you’ll be able to make a good decision based off of what you can provide for the animals on your property. Either one would be an excellent choice for a milking animal, and both have numerous benefits that make them a welcome member to any homestead.
Do you already have cows or goats on your homestead? What advice would you offer to preppers that are considering this new adventure?