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Should you get a cow, or a goat?

We knew that when we got into the "cow vs. goat" debate we were whapping a hornet's nest with a very short stick (7713:33; 7715:33). While we can't print all the responses, there are some with new ideas, or old ones worth reviewing. Here is one of them.

Please note that this is a friendly discussion, some of it even tongue-in-cheek. There will never be a "lastword." The final decision about whether to milk a cow or a goat is entirely yours.

The following was taken from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, third edition:

bovine, adj. 1. Of, relating to, or resembling a ruminant mammal of the genus bos, such as an ox, cow, or buffalo. 2. Sluggish, dull, and stolid.

capricious (capr-, goat), adj. Characterized by or subject to whim; impulsive and unpredictable.

If I were to be referred to as a bovine, I would be highly insulted. If I were referred to as capricious, I would have to admit that sometimes I do things spontaneously, on a whim. If a friend calls to tell me she is going to

pick apples but I had planned to spend the day at home doing chores. I would probably go apple picking.

More seriously, my vote in the current debate goes to the goat. One reason that hasn't been mentioned so far is safety.

My vet was working on a doe, teaching me how to open a blind teat which healed closed after an injury. She "capriciously" kicked him solidly on the forearm. I apologized as he calmly went on with the task.

He said he'd much rather be kicked by a goat than a cow. He went on to list all the surgery and medical care he and his partner had received thanks to cow-inflicted injuries. Later he showed me that he didn't even get a bruise from the kick. If it had been a cow, he would have landed in the next county (we're close to the line) with a broken arm!

Excuse me, but I will take the safety of a nice, quiet Nubian doe that has been disbudded as a kid, and is too heavily burdened by a huge udder which is carrying a gallon of rich, sweet milk to be jumping on people's cars or trying to get through fences.

We have 33 goats, two calves, and a 24-year-old Arabian mare. We also have fowl, rabbits, and some critters of no particular use. My father had a commercial dairy with 65 Holsteins, two Jerseys and a Guernsey usually in residence. So I am familiar with cows. Goats are by far easier to fence and manage than cows or the horse.

We have 26 acres that are fenced and cross-fenced with 42-inch stock wire with two strands of smooth wire above. All the posts are cedar that my husband cut as we cleared sites for the barns. We use stock panels to control the bucks during the rut, as we have both Nubians and LaManchas and need to prevent "unauthorized" breedings. So far, our peach trees, roses and tomatoes are safe and healthy.

Our goat milk is not a medicine. It is a delicious, highly nutritious food that is very easily digested, especially for babies human and otherwise.

Goat milk is white, while cow milk is usually well-pigmented with carotene. Goats are 100% efficient in converting carotene into colorless vitamin A.

Unlike cow milk, goat milk contains long chain fatty acids which actually reduce the LDH form of cholesterol (the bad kind) in the blood stream. What's the use of having "rich" fatty milk if it's going to kill you?

If goat milk tastes like a buck smells, it's because of mismanagement. The same factors that result in poor quality goat milk will result in poor quality cow

Separating the cream

You can separate the cream from goat milk without a cream separator. All you have to do is to let it set in the refrigerator in a large mouth jar for 24 hours. Then skim off the cream.

Half the fun, and a good portion of our income, is from kids. We eagerly await each birth. Many kids are spoken for before they're born. (We're sold out again this year until spring.) The new owners are anxious to get their new babies, but we like to keep them the first week to make sure they start off on the right foot.

Transportation is no problem. We put them in a box in the back seat of the car, or let a child hold them. Try that with a calf.

Our adults jump, or more often are boosted, into the back of my little pickup with the camper shell, and away we go.

Once, because Wayne was gone with the truck, I did put a doe in the back seat of the car. She just stretched out and enjoyed the ride to the vet. On the way home, after her delivery of quads, she wanted her babies and kept licking the back of my ear.

Believe me, nanny berries are much easier to clean up than cow plops! Especially on velour upholstery.

As for tolerating bad weather, the goats prefer the open housing that the horse and cows have access to. But they, unlike the cows, do have enough sense to come in out of the rain.

Milk a goat anywhere

You can milk a goat anywhere you want to but it's more comfortable to put her up on a milking stand with a stanchion. husband often just clips the collar to a fence, gets down on one knee, and milks away. I'm built for comfort, not for speed. I prefer to sit next to her and cuddle up, especially on a cold winter day. I don't have to worry about a tail full of plop hitting me in the face when I milk. I guess the commercial dairy I pass doesn't like that either. I notice they have cut the tails off their stock.

Our cows and horse are never permitted on the front pasture, which we plan to use for a hay field, during wet weather. Their weight and hooves do too much damage.

The milking goats usually have access to this field all year because they do no harm.

It's really stretching it to blame goats for the deserts of the world (as one cow lover did) when it is human population and mismanagement that caused the abuse of the marginal land and allowed it to deteriorate to desert. That's happening in Africa now--and the tribesmen are herding cows.

And goats are not lowering the water table in Arizona., Mr. Griffith. Don't you watch PBS?

I have to admit that I like beef better than chevon. I dislike eating something as playful and friendly as a goat. I don't think any more of biting into a steak than I do the tomato next to it. After all, the tomato had more personality.

A friend called and said she wanted to supplement a newborn llama's mother's milk with goat colostrum as it gives better protection. Our freezer is always stocked with extra colostrum, and she knew it. Radiance came fresh with 6 lbs. of colostrum, much more than her triplets could consume.

It's true that goats don't generate the huge piles of manure that cows do. We do have a little pile from goats in confinement that we use with the rabbit manure on the gardens in the neighborhood. For the most part, it's pelleted and scattered about the fields. For me and My house, that's good.

We often let the truck sit out by the barn while we milk and do chores. I have never had a Nubian or LaMancha jump onto the hood. Could this have something to do with the breed? The picture accompanying the article showed an Alpine yearling, apparently not in milk. Maybe the breed accounts for the behavior, or maybe she needs to be put to work so she will be producing milk, not mischief!

Winter milk

My goats do enjoy browse, but they do very well on grass and eat hay in the winter, during their peak production period. Yes, winter. I do think it's easier to have cows freshen the year around, but several of our does milk through for two years with long, level lactations. We also stagger our breeding so they are not all dry at the same time. We do have a year around milk supply. One cow can't do that. If you have two, what do you do with 10-12 gallons of milk when they are both fresh?

Does are very clean animals, and bucks are only obnoxious rut. But how obnoxious is a 1,200+ pound bull when cows are in heat?

I do believe the writer who claimed his cows love him. Mine love me. I am the lady with the feed bucket.

But my goats do not ignore company the way the cows do. They all come to see who's visiting and to say "howdy!" Small children tend to fear the calves, but when taken to the kid pen to play, most wade right in.

I am distressed to learn from one cow fan that goats only live six years. That means all my nine and 10-year-old milkers out there in the pasture must be dead!

Yes, a calf can be purchased for the same price as a milking doe. But what will it cost to raise her? What about time and labor?

And one cannot say "barring illness or death." Those must be considered because they happen to every living thing, and how much will that dead cow cost you?

As to why this country is so in love with the cow while the rest of the world prefers the goat, all I can say is, if John Wayne had turned two does and a buck loose in the Red River Valley instead of two cows and a bull, the American romance with the bovine never would have occurred. Blame Hollywood!

Not everyone wants a cow

I can't speak for others who have supported goats in this debate, but I believe we're just trying to point out some of the advantages of the goat to the homesteader. Not everyone who wants to get beyond the sidewalks can manage a cow, or has room, or wants or has money for a cow. But a pair of does will help you be independent in one area.

That's what this is all about. Good stock at reasonable prices for people who want good milk.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Countryside Publications Ltd.
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Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Stevens, Gwen; Stevens, Wayne
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Jan 1, 1994
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