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Cows? Goats? Why not both!

Everyone interested in "home grown" milk should know the differences (and similarities) between caprines and bovines. While a good milk cow can furnish lots of milk in one milking, a good milk goat will have what some consider higher quality milk-just less of it.

Weight the factors fairly. The best two goats may milk as much as a poor quality cow, and one super milk cow may have more milk than ten poor goats.

I was surprised to find that my dairyman neighbor considered five gallons per cow daily a good amount. He was equally astonished that my diary goats produce six to eight quarts of milk a day.

Both goats and cows can tear up a good fence, fight electric fences, knock you down in excitement to get fed, and tear up your yard. Both require adequate feed, housing, and vet care.

Temperament varies widely from one animal to another. Some are easy to milk, greeting you by voice as you appear milk pail in hand. Others have to be penned and chased, then taught the whole milking process anew every day.

How much milk you want is also a major factor. Do you want to have fresh milk every day, or avoid milking during winter months? You can have two cows (or several goats) freshen at different times for a year-round supply of milk, or breed for freshening one time of the year, and get it all together.

Manure doesn't have to be a problem. While goat manure is spread almost invisibly, cow manure is slippery and can be diluted, or in dry form it's easy to crumble. Which form of animal manure do you want to deal with?

Both cows and goats live for over ten years if cared for properly. And milk production rises and falls about the same in goats and cows. Production is in the genetics.

My goats stay behind a simple hog wire fence with two strands of barbed wire, or a single strand of -- electric. And some cows will go through both and maybe more fence just to get in another pasture that's not any greener on the other side.

Animals that jump fences, tear up gardens, and generally are hard to keep should be gotten rid of -- no doubt about it. Doesn't matter if it has two teats or four. Choose by temperament, breeding and milk production -- not by color or size.

Goats and cows complement each other. The goat is a browser that eats brush along fence rows, while the grazing cow prefers grass.

Both cows and goats will lead with a rope or halter. Either may stomp, kick or squirm while milking (but which would you rather have kick you -- a cow or a goat?).

Would you rather use a bull to breed your cows or a buck to breed your goats? (A bull can smell just as bad as a buck!)

Weigh the factors carefully before you decide what type of livestock to get. Don't just take one experience as "gospel" for goats or cows. There are both good and bad sides to each. Pick a quality animal when you buy, and don't be afraid to ask questions.

Merry milking!
COPYRIGHT 1994 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Dahl, Debbie
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Words:532
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