Spring is springing, and so are the cows! It’s the time of year we get the itch for something new…and for some of us that something new is a cow for our own fresh milk. This month I have another article for those who are shopping for a family milk cow, to follow up on the article from January. Once again, I will post it in three chapters. Hope you find it useful!
Family Milk Cow 102: Bringing Home the … Beef
Hopefully now you’ve had some time to evaluate your facilities and develop a plan, and to work on getting some cow education. Once you’ve decided what breed of cow you want, or at least have it narrowed down to two or three options, it’s time to start doing some more serious research & shopping. Here are some things to consider and steps to take before you close the deal.
Chapter 1: Do Your Homework
You’ll want to learn as much as possible about your breed of choice before you start shopping. You don’t want to get your heart set on a particular cow if you can’t tell whether she’s a good quality animal or a cull.
The best place to start your research is a breed association website. You’ll want to find breed conformation standards, registration requirements, information on any genetic abnormalities that may be a problem, and photos of high quality animals. And of course, since you’re looking for a milk cow, you must find out what an appropriate, quality udder that will hold up well through the years should look like in that particular breed. You can click here to visit the ADCA for an example of an excellent website.
Find out who’s involved with the association at a leadership level & contact some of them to ask questions, or you can attend a breed show, or contact member/breeders near you for a farm visit. These personal contacts can give you the opportunity to learn about price range to expect, bloodlines known for certain characteristics, conformation & udder specifics, reputable (or not-so-reputable) breeders, and other issues facing that breed.
You’ll also want to talk to your vet. Ask if they know of any genetic, breeding, or health issues facing that breed, or just general problems to watch out for. Also find out about any state regulations concerning ID, vaccines or testing that would affect what animals you could buy, especially if you’re likely to buy out-of-state.
As you peruse “For Sale” ads, you need to find out as much information as you can about each cow you MAY be interested in. By now you have a good idea what you want, so set your priorities and don’t compromise on the important things. Compare your possibilities on paper and decide which ones seem to best meet your requirements. You’ll want to narrow it down to a few choices that you can actually go look at & get your hands on.