January 2012 - Giving up the House Cow

For the time being at least.  I have persevered for over four months training Charlotte the dexter to be a house cow, but it's finally time to give it in and concede that she is just not cut out to be a house cow.  I have learnt so much from her (such as cows can kick at such angles that horses could never even dream of, cows have pinpoint accuracy when it comes to flinging snot and all other body fluids directly at your face and you can train a cow to stand still and tolerate having her teats pulled...but you *cannot* make a cow give you milk if she doesn't want you to have it.   I found out that it is even possible for a cow to hold up one quarter while her calf is on the other side. I think I tried everything in the book (literally in the book Keeping a Family Cow) as well as numerous other methods recommended by members on the family cow board, but it would take Charlotte (aka devil-cow) three days to work out how to stop my latest trick from working.

I've also found out that calling someone a 'cow' really is the nastiest insult available!

Despite all that, I would have continued milking her if I was getting enough milk for our daily needs - but it was taking at least an hour, way too much water for clean-up and costing way too much in food to persevere for less than a litre a day.  It was a great experience, but Charlotte is back to being our beef breeder (the reason we originally purchased her) and we are back to drinking plastic milk from the shop (and Lactose-free UHT milk from B2) until such time as I can find an affordable jersey house cow with a decent temperament.  In the meantime, devil-cow has been put out the back with T-Bone and Matilda to grow us some beef.  With any luck by July T-Bone will be old enough to cover both cows and then be ready for freezer camp towards the end of the year.  I am hoping that when Matilda finally freshens, that her nicer temperament and fondness for anything food-related will make her a suitable candidate for backup cow when the jersey is dried off for a few months before freshening.  That is the plan anyway.

My advice fro anyone looking for a house cow - despite the 'dual purpose' breed hype, don't consider a Dexter unless it comes from milk-producing lines and has previously been hand milked with a suitable production history for your needs, as this is a breed that is notorious for drying themselves up after weaning their calves and/or withholding their milk from you (but if you get a good milker, they are definitely worth their weight in gold!).

Some photos of Charlotte

Charlotte Dexter Cow
Charlotte Dexter Cow
Charlotte Dexter Cow
Charlotte Dexter Cow

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