Congratulations. You’ve escaped the city life and also are currently the proud owners of your small plot of rural paradise. It’s natural to begin thinking about all the possibilities for your acreage: chickens, a garden, possibly an orchard or berry patch.

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And a cow. Yeah, a cow. New milk, cheese, and also butter—what might be better? Owning your very own cow can be one of the many satisfying of rural experiences…if you’re prepared.

As roger Staubach observed, “Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” choose raising children, obtaining a cow takes forethought and also adequate homework.

A house dairy cow can carry out you v all the milk, butter, yogurt, and also cheese the your family might want.


I to be assuming you would not be interested in obtaining a cow if you were living in a tightly-packed suburb. So exactly how much land carry out you need?

There’s no cut-and-dried one-size-fits-all need for how much floor a cow needs due to the fact that it counts on whether you’re plan on grazing your animals year-round, confining your animals to a paddock, or miscellaneous in-between. It also depends on whether you live in the lush croplands the Virginia or the dry Mohave Desert.

Yet one more variable is whether you have to feed hay during the winter, or if her winters space mild enough that the pets can graze year-round. If friend live in Tennessee, your pasture and obtainable forage will certainly be far different than if you live in phibìc Dakota.

Obviously there’s no straightforward answer to just how much floor a cow requires. The essential thing is no to obtain much more animals 보다 your land deserve to comfortably support. Work-related with what you have, and be ready to supplement with purchased hay as needed.

Remember, a cow’s “job”—what she does because that twelve hrs a day—is come eat. It is how amazing how quickly a cow or two deserve to eat under a little pasture. But just due to the fact that you only have a one-acre ar shouldn’t preclude you from gaining cows. However, friend will have to purchase hay to feed them because one acre is not sufficient land to support anything bovine.

Cows can indeed be retained on small plots—an acre or two—but they need to be fed. We used to very own a home with a two-acre pasture on which we retained three bovines (cow/calf and also yearling steer). We necessary to supplement your feed about nine months the end of the year.

Grass or grain?

In my experience—and I’m talking about a household milk cow, no a high-producing animal in a advertising dairy—a cow walk fine raised practically exclusively top top grass or ar hay. This is a shocking statement to a most dairymen, so let me qualify it.

A house dairy cow go fine fed practically exclusively on grass or hay with just a tiny grain as a treat.

A family members cow go not require to create to the pure maximum of she potential. Indeed, doing for this reason will more than likely overwhelm a household with too much milk. Through feeding a cow on a diet the grass and/or hay, her output will adjust according to her nutritional intake. This is no necessarily a negative thing.

A Jersey cow can produce 6 to ten gallons the milk a day at she maximum output. Work after day. Mainly after week. Saturdays and also Sundays included. Most family members cannot store up v that amount of milk. You can literally take away baths in it and also still have leftovers.

But by feeding her Jersey cow ~ above a diet that grass and also hay, with possibly a minimal lot of grain as a treat, she might reduce she milk calculation to two to 4 gallons a day. This is far less overwhelming and much more manageable.

There’s no question that grain provides a high-protein boost, i m sorry is essential when your pet is lactating. However, grain is a concentrated resource of protein, so girlfriend don’t have to overfeed. A usual amount during milking or as a reward for coming right into the barn at night is perfectly fine.

Cows originated together grass-fed livestock. The ide of grain-feeding is reasonably recent and came into vogue only after animals became deprived that pasture, such as in feed lots or focused commercial dairies. Yes, pets gain weight or produce more milk ~ above a diet high in grain—but again, it isn’t important for your family members cow to develop at the absolute optimal of her capacity. Exterior of commercial enterprises, grass-fed animals are the norm, no the exception. The average tiny land-owner won’t require to problem about an ext than a lb or 2 of grain per day per cow.

What is a nutritional necessity is a mineral block. Many grass-fed diets are deficient in specific essential nutrients, consisting of plain salt. Constantly make certain a mineral block (which should incorporate selenium) is available for her cows. One even much better option is loosened mineral salts placed in a ar where the rain won’t obtain to it. In locations where livestock may suddenly be exit onto fresh grass ~ a winter the hay-fed confinement, you need to also provide a “bloat block” to ease the change in diet. A bloat block prevents a cow indigenous bloating on too lot fresh grass after month of dried hay, a potentially fatal condition.

Naturally, her cow needs access to new water at every times. In warm summer, if you can’t examine the tank frequently, you may need a float and also valve (or comparable device) to automatically keep tanks full. In the winter, you might wish to acquire a tank warmer, i m sorry keeps the water temperature above freezing.


On the flip next of feeding, don’t let her pastures become so consumed down that your cow is required to consume noxious weeds or—worse—go hungry. Some human being have the extraordinary id that once an animal is top top pasture, lock never need to be fed.

In locations with cold winters, your cows need shelter and supplemental feeding.

We’ve met persons who, oddly, don’t feel the need to regularly feed your livestock also in winter because the pets are a “hardy” breed. The cruelty associated is hard to recognize as the animals slowly starve and are brought ago from the brink of death in the nick of time by hasty and

infrequent feedings. Their poor diet reduce their capacity to withstand winter wind and temperatures.

Even if you have a “hardy” each other of cow (Dexters or Scottish Highland, for example), don’t loss for the erroneous heat of reasoning that castle don’t need to be fed. “Hardy” pets can indeed grow on what is often considered suboptimal forage, but they can’t eat bare dirt. It is in sensible—and humane.

How lot hay you have to feed your livestock depends on your climate, quantity of land, severity of winters, and other determinants mentioned above. Together a rule of thumb, cows need around 3% of body load in hay per day. Inspect with your local County expansion agent to find out what types, quality, and prices that hay are easily accessible in your area.


We live in a climate through bitterly cold winters and also lots that wind and also snow. Shelters have the right to make everyone’s life vastly more comfortable, specifically if you are milking her cow.

Offering the shade in the brutally hot summers and also shelter in gall cold winter is the humane point to do. Unlike wild animals, her cow cannot leave her pasture come seek defense under harsh conditions. You need to administer it because that her.

This doesn’t mean you need to develop a $60,000 two-story barn v all the bells and also whistles. A 10×10 (per animal) open-sided melted can suffice. Occasionally you can develop multiple sheds and also connect them v breezeways or other expansions, adding space as essential for livestock, hay, equipment, etc.

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Try not to acquire your cow until you have a ar to put her (hint: fence your pasture first!). If you acquisition your cow throughout mild weather, girlfriend can build the shelter roughly her (so come speak) before the snow flies or before the temperature soars over the century mark. If you setup to purchase your cow during winter snows or summer heat, build the sanctuary in advance.

Cows have grew in slapstick, ramshackle shelters and also have done simply fine. Yet do carry out something. As soon as you’re lie in bed at night listening to the howling wind and also pouring rain, don’t you think you’ll sleep far better knowing the your cow is tucked snugly in she stall?