"Getting a Family Cow: Lots to Consider"
Good article by Diane Schivera
'So you're thinking of getting a family cow. You've probably thought of many good reasons: fresh milk 10 months of the year, cream to do with as decadently as you want, peaceful moments in the barn with your head resting against the flank of the cow while milking and letting the rest of the world go by.
But there are other points to consider. You will have to milk twice a day 10 months of the year. Milking needs to be regular, or the cow will be uncomfortable and her production will suffer. Milking can be done on two possible schedules: either 12 hours apart or on a 10- and 14-hour schedule, e.g. at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Milking once a day is possible if you leave the calf on for the day and separate it at night, then milk the cow yourself in the morning; but don't do this when the calf is really young. Start separating when the calf is two months old; when it is fully weaned at four to six months, go back to twice daily milking, or let the cow's production drop (by feeding it less grain, for example) and continue to milk once a day. Make such schedule changes slowly--cows are creatures of habit.
So consider the time required to keep a cow:
Milking-20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night
Feeding--10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night
Pasturing-1 or 2 minutes, if you have wired runs from the barn to the pastures
Straining and cooling milk--5 minutes to wash, fill and date bottles
Washing utensils--5 to 10 minutes
Separating the cream and cleaning up-10 to 15 minutes daily or every other day
Making butter--30 minutes (Add more time for making other products.)
Cleaning the barn and removing manure--about 15 minutes
Grooming the cow--about 5 minutes
Watering by hand--5 to 10 minutes
Raising a calf--The time required depends on who feeds her: you or the cow. You'll also want to teach her to lead and respect the fence. Allow 5 hours or more, total.
Making hay or growing other crops to feed the cow will also take time, if you're raising the feed yourself.
So you'll need two to two and a half hours for daily chores, and more time to train the calf and raise feed.'
Continued with What Breed?