Oct 28, 2019

We bought a Dexter milk cow...

She's five years old...

She came with a 6-month-old steer calf and she's bred back to a registered dexter bull and due on April 20, 2020. I picked a milk cow with a calf on her deliberately, because I want to "Calf Share." 

Calf sharing means that you only take some of the milk and leave the rest for the calf. To calf share, you pen the calf from the cow for a 12 hour period. You milk the cow and then turn the calf back in with the cow to finish emptying the udder. Then, you leave the calf with the cow for 12 hours and then you pen the calf again and start all over. Sounds easy right? 
~~~~ Sure~~~~ 
We'll get to that part in another post...

We drove 4 hours to get Clara and her calf Billy on September 28th. They made the long trip back without issue, although it was snowing in Northern Utah. A fall storm had arrived and of course, we chose a road trip right in the middle of it. We're good at those kinds of adventures...

Clara is about 40" tall and about 700#. She's as big around as she is tall and she is cute~~~
The prior owner did, however, warn me that she is headstrong, but what girl isn't?

'Oy Vey'... !
More about that in a future blog post...


A dexter cow only produces about 1.5 to 2.5 gallons of milk per day. Dexter's are a dual-purpose heritage breed that is great for milk and beef. With just me and my husband home, we have no need for more than a few gallons of milk a week and the dexter is a perfect butchered beef size for just the two of us for meat.  
And small cows eat less ~ that's always a plus...

Why did I get a milk cow?

Well, I'm having trouble with store-bought milk. I cannot digest it anymore and it makes me sick, but I love milk. Here in Utah, the laws are insane and it's impossible to get raw cows milk from any dairy but one and that dairy is crazy EXPENSIVE. So, I decided I would milk my own cow for the love of milk. And, we have the pasture space, the feed, the barn, etc., so it was a perfect fit for me.

We chose a dexter milk cow that is A2A2. That means that the milk is more easily digestible. The heritage breeds of cows are often times A2A2 milk cows. Goats are all A2A2, that's why their milk is easier on our systems to digest. I'm no expert on it, so if you're curious - google all about it. The one thing I can guarantee is that since I got Clara and started drinking her A2A2 milk, I've had no digestion issues whatsoever~ 

Another thing the prior owner warned us about was that Clara had never been put out to pasture. She had always lived in a corral. He was concerned that if I put her out to pasture I might have a hard time catching her again. The prior owner didn't get rid of Clara because she was a bad cow. He has 5 small children and their appetite for milk was more than Clara could abide. They bought a Jersey cow that will give them 5 to 8 gallons of milk a day and rehomed Clara with me. Clara's a great milk cow with few vices. Well, all milk cows have vices - lets be honest and real here...

We got Clara and Billy home late and left them in the horse trailer for the night. 
We let them out on a lush, green, fall pasture the very next morning. 

As she stepped out of the horse trailer I dropped the lead rope to shut the horse trailer door and well, she bolted with her calf right by her side. They ran all the way to the other end of a 3 acre pasture. I looked at my husband, he looked at me. I said, "Uh Oh," He said, "Go get your lead rope..." 

Oh dear~~~~

I walked to the end of the pasture close to Clara. She kept walking away from me. I herded her over close to the fence and she walked slowly up the fence line for about 5 minutes and then stopped and looked at me. She let me reach down and unclip the lead rope from her halter and she bolted again to the other side. 

We gave Clara the first week to adjust to her new surroundings hoping that we could catch her again. Actually, the next day I filled a water trough and she came walking right over by me, so I wasn't too concerned and Clara didn't need to be milked daily because her calf was on her side doing the milking for me which is another plus to calf sharing!

At this point, as a new milk cow owner, my greatest piece of advice would be to get a milk cow with a calf on her. 
I don't think I would ever do it any other way.

More of the milk cow saga to come, so stay tuned...

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