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Why I prefer cows.

A goat raiser recently listed 10 reasons why she likes goats - and challenged cow owners to respond. Here are two of those replies.

It is remarkable with all the purported advantages of goat-keeping over cow-keeping that the majority of dairymen are cattlemen. That is, unless there are some "forgotten" factors. Goat people never tire of telling us that goat's milk is better than cow's, but I must say, after having kept both, and sampling milk from other goat and cow keepers, I'm sticking with cows. There just seem to be too many factors which make goat's milk taste like the way a buck goat smells! But, here are 10 economic reasons alone, plus a few others:

1.) Our Jersey is about five times the weight of our average Saanen and Toggenburg goats, eats about six times as much as either goat, and gives between six and seven gallons of extremely rich milk daily, as compared with the goat's gallon of not-too-rich milk.

2.) The cow could be bought "fresh" much easier, with greater variety in choices, at a cheaper cost per pound of animal than as good a goat, so there's no waiting for production to begin.

3.) Our first Jersey cow hardly ever went indoors. The one we have now likes to go in in bad weather. I have never had any goat as tolerant of adverse weather as a cow. The cows we've had have been milkable anywhere - no need for expensive buildings, which is more than I can say for any goats I've seen.

4.) Our goats required more pasture. The reason was because, first, just grass wasn't as agreeable to the goat as to the cow. Second, when need be, the cow is perfectly happy in daily confinement, even for a week or more! Some dairies only allow limited outdoor time for a cow. This is cruel to goats, who love their freedom, if nothing else! Also, our goats got through woven wire, triple strand electric; even stockade fencing! Our cow minds the most rundown of fences and a single strand of electric wire will keep her in.

5.) When our goats got marginal land for feed, they dropped their production the same as a cow on similar land. But there was one further problem: the goats could eradicate even the last vestiges of vegetation, opening the way for erosion. It is a well-known fact that the deserts of much of the world got their start by the unwise use of goats, because the land was marginal. Conversely, our cow pasture keeps getting more and more lush, especially when chickens are allowed to spread the "plops" around, cleaning up the last bits of undigested grain in them.

6.) I will not pretend that we keep cows for beef, since real beef takes three years or more to grow. The tasteless stuff from the market is from those little one-and-a-half year olds, and baby beef is no better. Goats are easier to butcher than cattle, but I find them as tasteless as young beef, and without much improvement as they get older. but we don't keep a cow for meat. For that we have Cotswold sheep, which are a heap sight better flavored than store-bought lamb, and (I think so, anyway) much tastier than chevon.

7.) The human brain requires great amounts of cholesterol; some cholesterol it cannot use. The less mature an animal is, the greater the cholesterol content, viz., eggs, vs. chickens, or veal vs. beef (real beef), etc. Goats mature more quickly than cows, but require more elaborate fencing (dogs always got the ones on tethers) and more room. So, while waiting for that itty-bitty goat kid to grow big enough to drop its cholesterol levels, you kiss your fruit trees, flowers and garden good-bye, 'cause they'll get 'em all (got mine).

8.) In addition to their higher cost, goats are harder to transport, they jump out of pickup trucks with racks, and though I succumbed to advice to carry 'em in the car, unless hog-tied their antics were too much for safety. And goat urine smells the same on the upholstery as calf urine. Newspaper under the calf's rump caught all its dung, but goat-berries keep on turning up.

9.) A $100 vet bill to treat a $200 goat isn't easy to take, but then neither is a $100 bill to treat a $600 cow. Fortunately, there are many dairy farmers one can make friends with, and vet calls for the cow can be minimized to the real emergencies.

10.) To get as much milk from my goats as from our cow, we would have to have milked six times as many of 'em. That means letting them in the milking stanchion six times (instead of just flopping the bucket under cow in field), feed six times, wash teats six times and turn out six goats. And the milk from cows doesn't need a centrifuge to get the cream off. "Goat people" seem to think homogenization is an advantage!

11.) When buying goats, I've had goat people tell me goats don't get TB or Bangs disease. In other words, they don't have their animals tested. Bovine dairymen routinely test for this (though in West Virginia these diseases are officially gone).

12.) We have the cow, sheep, hens, pigs and a cat (also geese and a horse) and there's not enough milk from just two goats to help with all the other protein supplementation. Our cow is central to our complete farm's health. I never heard of surpluses with just a couple goats, especially where Cheesemaking was concerned. And how much butter cream does anyone suppose they'll get from goats if they don't have a separator, too? How mechanized must one get to indulge fancy?

13.) Many neighbors come to us for real Jersey milk for their lambs, puppies, etc., and I've raised extra piglets with nothing but Jersey milk - we always have a couple gallons of colostrum in the deep freeze, just in case. How much colostrum is surplus for a goat?

14.) We multiply our manure five-fold by composting it. It is daily handled with a fork. Goat manure requires a shovel because it's pelleted and doesn't mix so adhesively with the bedding. A shovel requires concrete floors. But then, goats can't be kept indoors anyway, so the manure is mostly lost when it's close to the pen.

15.) Goats are too active for me, compared with the calm affection given by a cow. The playfulness of goats (even after getting through a triple fence) has ruined several windshield wipers and cartops while I was away or asleep.

16.) Goats need browse or some kind of vegetables. Grass isn't enough.

17.) I must concede that goats are far more prolific than cows, often having wins or triplets, sometimes even quads. But then, rats and bugs are more prolific too, but I try not to raise them either.
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Title Annotation:dairying
Author:Griffith, Nathan
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Previous Article:Raising sheep "the Okie way."
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