Author Topic: The difference a little hay makes  (Read 2066 times)

Offline MrsKK

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The difference a little hay makes
« on: December 12, 2009, 05:49:44 AM »
With our temps dropping so badly this week, along with the nine inches or so of snow we got, I've really been expecting Buttercup's production to drop off.  However, we brought in 50 square bales of really good alfalfa/timothy hay on Tuesday and have been feeding extra to her inside her shed.  She also has constant access to a round bale, but those bales we got this year are from first-year seeding, so have a lot of weeds in them.

I typically get 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 gallons of milk from her OAD.  That amount has not dropped off at all, in spite of the severe weather.  Today and tomorrow we are expecting highs in the 20's, so I am eager to see if her production maintains or goes up.  I'll let you know!

I have also increased her grain slightly to help maintain her body weight during this cold snap.  She's going into winter just a tad on the thin side, which I don't like to see, so I will probably keep her at the higher grain level even if the weather gets warmer.


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Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2009, 06:17:58 AM »
Has anyone ever broke down the total cost of a cow over its lifetime, divided by the total gallons of milk delivered? 
I'm curious what that cost per gallon amount would be. 
Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas

Offline squirrel

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2009, 07:30:09 AM »
I have kept meticulous records since I purchased my cow - recording all expenses including the cost of advertising to find the cow. I have also recorded the costs of purchasing expensive one-time items like my electric milker ($700) and the cost of the cow ($1,200).  I include the costs of purchasing cheese-making equipment, ingredients, etc. also.

Over the four years that I have owned my cow, I have spent a total of $6,430.71. I have brought in $3,266.10 by selling 3 calves, cheese, milk, butter, etc. I conservatively estimate that on average I have collected 3 gallons of milk per day for 9 months each year. That comes out to about 810 gallons of milk per year. (I think the actual average gallons/day may be one or two gallons more than my estimate).

So, the cost per gallon of milk comes out to just under $1.00 based on my records and estimates. Obviously, there are difficult-to-quantify costs such as the cost of owning land (I have just under 1 acre), and the time I spend milking, storing milk, cleaning, etc.

Similarly, there are difficult-to-quantify financial benefits such as money saved on purchasing milk, cheese, butter, cream, etc. from the store.

All of that aside, I think that as long as you enjoy spending the time required it does make financial sense to own a cow - something I never suspected when I first purchased her. The time commitment is about 1 hour every day to milk, feed, and clean up. When I switch to once-a-day milking, that time will be cut nearly in half. The way I look at it is that some people have a daily exercise routine at the gym or wherever; I have a daily exercise routine in the barn. My routine results in a lot of good milk to use every day and satisfaction from producing a lot of my own food - not to mention the fun I have making cheese.

So are you going to get a cow now? ;D

Offline MrsKK

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2009, 07:49:50 AM »
Thanks for the cost breakdown, squirrel!  I've always known I wanted to milk my own cow, so I wasn't that concerned about the costs, as long as there was some return on the investment. 

Not only do I get the physical workout, the time I spend milking my cow and throwing hay/other chores is like therapy to me.  It is quiet time that I can use to reflect and figure things out.  So, if I subtract the money I would otherwise spend on psychotherapy, I'm probably making money!

Offline cath s

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2009, 02:32:50 PM »
here in NZ the income a cow generates is calculated on average Milksolids - being fat and protein output (What we get paid here in NZ) which is about 350 per cow per annum.  Then times this by the payout - currently $6.05.  $2117
That sets the going rate for sale.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2009, 02:38:32 PM by cath s »


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Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2009, 02:41:12 PM »
Like makeing wine,  i really have no interest in growing grapes, or raising cows,  I would rather leave that to the pro grape growers, and simply buy the raw fruit. But unlike wine/grapes, I have no ability to buy the raw milk.  So now am kinda thinking about getting 2 or 3 cows...

Step 1 Buy cows
Step 2 Wife names them, and they become pets...

Fact is, i may never have access to raw milk.  :(
Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas

Offline MrsKK

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2009, 03:56:43 AM »
Why can't you milk a pet cow?  Dairy cows are meant to be bred and to produce milk.  They get fat and incredibly unhealthy if they aren't.

Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2009, 03:24:52 PM »
When I was a kid we named all our cows. The Jersys were milkers, they were pets and pampered the beefs were usually holseins just cows we didn't get close to these.

Offline cath s

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2009, 10:10:08 PM »
we have 450 dairy cows - I have named all of them.... and theres 300 odd youngstock too...
 8)

Offline MrsKK

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2009, 06:44:46 AM »
Even our steers meant for beef get named.  It makes it a lot easier when something needs to be done for an animal...besides, well-loved beef is much tastier, IMHO.

I like it when career farmers name their livestock.  Makes the animals more than just a number and a position in a milking stanchion.


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Offline kawatiri kaas

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2010, 04:45:30 AM »
Fascinating concept that... attempting to quantify milk production costs. As Squirrel said there is so many cross credited benefits that occur at the same time as the milk is being produced. We paid 2 doz beer ($48 I think) for our calf, about $80 for a bag of milk powder, waited (im)patiently for 2 years and 'Voila', lotsa milk for a pittance. 'Course we're extremely blessed in having a couple of acres of pretty good pasture available to us with the house we rent. And I barter with a local farmer for our hay requirements. What would I pay for the 'privilege' of having a house cow (assuming I could afford it)? I can't really say, but it sure is a huge buzz to be producing our own milk and then making cheese etc. For me the idea of buying milk at the supermarket for the same purpose just doesn't fly. Each to his own eh?
Cheers,
Brett Westport West Coast New Zealand

Offline MrsKK

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Re: The difference a little hay makes
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2010, 05:58:50 AM »
Buttercup was raised by us from 6 weeks old, too, with the 2 year wait for her first calf and milk.  Cow prices were still pretty steep when we bought her, so we paid $350, however, the lowest price adult cow I came across was over $1000.  Admittedly, we probably have paid about that amount over the years to raise her, but I'm glad we did it that way, as she is definitely OUR cow and trained to our ways, rather than taking on what someone else did with her.

I never would have gotten into cheesemaking without my own cow, either.