Which is Better for a Family: A Milk-producing Cow or Goat?

| 7/15/2008 12:00:00 AM

Which is a better choice for a new “homesteading” family: a milk-producing cow or goat?

Harry Rotham
Dickinson, North Dakota


Dairy cows and goats are both good choices for a homesteading family. Deciding which is best for your family will probably be based on the kind of pasture available and how much milk you want to deal with each day.

More people around the world raise goats than cows. Goats will eat a variety of foliage that a cow wouldn’t touch. While it is wonderful that goats will eat tough weeds and brush, it also means they will be more than happy to try to break into your garden and eat any and all of the plants you are growing as “people” food. Cows can also cause damage in the garden, but goats have a reputation for eating everything in sight.

Goats are much smaller (mature does weigh in at 120 pounds to 135 pounds) than cows (up to 1,000 pounds) making them easier to handle. Cows on the other hand, while larger, are more mellow and therefore easier to contain in a given area.

Richard Vollnogle
7/9/2010 12:45:45 AM

I grew up on a dairy farm that had goats also the goats mainly were 4H projects. Sure the cow produces more milk but they also eat about twice as much. The price of cows milk may not offset their feed bill. We could feed three goats for the price of one good producing cow. You have to decide.

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