The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

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The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

Postby George Collins » Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:44 pm

First off, let me say I LOVE MY COW.

I love her so much, I hope to get a second one at some point.

Since getting her, we have averaged just shy of 5 gallons per day. We have skimmed every ounce of cream from every gallon of milk we've gotten so far. Since we got her almost exactly two months ago, the only dairy products that we have bought is cheese and ice cream. As for cheese, the amount we buy has gone down to almost nothing and as it relates to ice cream, we just haven't gotten the ice cream maker we want yet. (My wife is holding out for the industrial version.)

It would be hard to put a dollar value on all of the milk by-products that we've made. Especially since the way I figure a benefit is likely different than some. But, I have ran some numbers and I will share them with y'all here today.

I've done a spot of research on some small, commercial dairies and best as I can figure, each cow represents ~$750 of net revenues per year. So if a dairy had say, 50 cows, their net income would be $35,000 to $40,000 per year.

However, the dairyman's gross revenues is dependent upon forces completely outside of his control. Sometimes, because of the forces of the market, he might get $1/gallon, sometimes he might get $3/gallon. But the 12-month running average appears to be about $2/gallon. However, the price of milk in the grocery store is very stable. In this part of the world, it has been about $4.50 for quite some time.

That's the number that I'm going to use when calculating the economic benefit of Ella. I am going to price her production of whole milk at the full retail price because every time I forego buying a gallon of milk from the grocery, I forego having to spend $4.50 which that is the amount my standard of living went up by.

Also, I am going to low-ball her production at 4 gallons per day and keep all other figures right down the middle of the average as best as I understand it. Here goes:

- 4 gallons of milk/day x 300 days of milk production per year = 1200 gallons.

- 1200 gallons/year x $4.50/gallon = $5400.

However, to purchase a gallon of milk at $4.50, I first have to earn $9.00, pay the government half and then purchase my milk. So, by simply considering the tax savings, I can double the value of the cow to $10,800.

It costs almost exactly $1 of the type of feed we use to produce a gallon of milk. So $10,800 - $1200 = $9600.

The numbers get too messy after this point so I won't bore you with any further details but she does require a bit of upkeep beyond just feed. There is the occasional bottle of wound dressing for the nicks and scraps she inevitably gets, I might have to pay to get her AI'ed at some point, etc., etc. Even if all those incidentals ending up costing $600, and I'm fairly certain they won't even be a third of that, ol girl is still netting me $9k. And that doesn't even include the value of her calf. The going price for grass fed beef in out part of the world is $4/lb hanging weight. That would easily be another $1-2k per year.

And if y'all have never had raw milk (and I had not until we got Ella) it is a fundamentally different product. Every single thing that we've made with it is materially better than store bought save one thing - the raw cream. The cream that we used to buy at Sam's did taste better in our morning coffee. Sometimes Ella's is just as good but it's not consistently just as good. And that's ok with me. I figure that given enough time my tastes will adapt to this new flavor and will be good again.

So, if you've ever thought of getting a milk cow, I give doing so my strongest recommendation.
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

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Re: The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

Postby George Collins » Fri Aug 15, 2014 10:22 pm

There is one other way in which Ella will be even a bigger net benefit to our home.

Because her milk tastes so fabulous, and all of the associated products taste so much better, for those of us who are foodies (and I am) the desire to go out to fancy restaurants is diminished. Even simple dishes take on a whole new life. One thing I have never been able to tolerate the taste of is buttermilk. But then all I had ever had was store bought butter milk. Once I had Ella's, it was like an epiphany. So today, for lunch, I took cornbread left over from supper last night and crumbled it up in a bowl of butter milk and loved it so much, I told all my kids about it. Each of them that tried it, loved it. So, for lunch today, that loaf of light bread remained unopened as we dined on a dish from our past.

That mo money for me.
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
George Collins
 
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Location: South Central Mississippi, Zone 8a

Re: The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

Postby matt walker » Sat Aug 16, 2014 12:59 am

So great to hear George. Will she continue to produce as long as you keep milking, or does she need another calf to come along to keep the cycle going? I'm thinking about befriending one of my little calves this winter and working towards the goal of having a milker. It sounds wonderful.
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Re: The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

Postby George Collins » Sat Aug 16, 2014 1:19 am

When it works perfectly, the cow will calf and then you begin milking. About two months later, you breed her back. You continue milking until you reach the ten-month mark. At the ten month mark you dry her off. A couple months later she will have her second calf. Having that second calf is called "freshening."

There is a curve of production. Her milk supply starts out submaximally, ramps up to maximum production after 2-3 months and then goes into a period of indefinite decline. Theoretically, she will continue to produce milk for her entire life but without freshening her periodically, her production will go down until you are only getting negligible amounts.

I read a story about one guy that milked a cow for like ten years without freshening her. Towards the end of her life, he was only getting like a quart or two per day.
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
George Collins
 
Posts: 535
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:57 pm
Location: South Central Mississippi, Zone 8a

Re: The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

Postby matt walker » Sat Aug 16, 2014 2:56 pm

Oh, wow. Thanks George, I always wondered about that. Man, I've got to get on that, I've got a good cycle going now with two cows, two heifers, and a bull who is going to freezer camp in a couple hours here. I think both cows are bred back at this point. I'm going to get some treats and work on the nice cow this winter.
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Re: The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:14 pm

How are the kids doing with the milking George? You had hoped that they would be responsible for that chore I hope that has worked out for you. Do they take turns, or is there one person responsible for the milking? Milking a cow does tie you down a bit, but from what you are saying the rewards are definitely worth the effort. Glad you are enjoying all the fresh Dairy products. By the way, from whats its worth department, with the size of your family I can definitely see why your wife is holding out for the large industrial size ice cream freezer.
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Re: The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

Postby George Collins » Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:05 am

The only thing the kids have to have help with is putting the hobbles on. That one aspect of the operation sometimes requires a fair bit of strength. However, other than that one aspect, there is no aspect they need any help with at all. I subjectively knew shortly after getting her that there is a certain level of skill required to successfully milk. Because I knew also that there were bound to be times that I would need to leave town, I begin training my kids to milk from day one. At first their hands would tire prior to finishing the job but now, I have three trained up to the point to where they can take ol girl from start to finish and never require so much as a break.

And so far, the MVP of the whole milking operation, has been my youngest daughter.

She's REAL quick.

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"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
George Collins
 
Posts: 535
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:57 pm
Location: South Central Mississippi, Zone 8a

Re: The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Mon Aug 18, 2014 12:07 pm

Good Deal George, I am glad they are pitching in and helping with the milking. You should be very proud of your family.
Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
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Re: The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

Postby mannytheseacow » Mon Aug 18, 2014 10:59 pm

George Collins wrote: I first have to earn $9.00, pay the government half and then purchase my milk


There's some great wisdom right there. This is great, George. This is really paying off for you and your family. What a great investment.

I don't really drink milk, personally, but I'm grateful to people like you when I trade to make some yogurt or cheese once in a while.
"Knowledge is power. Arm yourself."
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Re: The Economic Benefit of Owning a Milk Cow

Postby Lollykoko » Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:39 am

I'm glad to hear the news, George. Better nutrition and money in your pocket sounds like a winning combination.
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