Our family milk cow pays for herself and more every year.
On average we get about nine thousand dollars of value from our cows, between money that we save and cash that we earn from selling products they produce.
Let’s start with the savings.
Easy Ways to Save Money with a Milk Cow.
One of the easiest to save money with a milk cow is… probably the reason you got the milk cow to start with… for her
Milk and Cream – $70 in Savings Weekly
Your milk cow is going to produce a lot of milk. At first you’ll be milking twice a day. Our family of 8 uses about a gallon of milk a day.
In our area, farm fresh raw a2a2 milk costs about $10/gallon. That means weekly we’re saving $70 on milk and cream right out the gate.
Medium Difficulty Ways to Save Money with a Milk Cow
The next category of things you can save money on is medium difficulty because they will require you to process the products you are getting, but they still are not too difficult for a beginner to do…
Butter – $24 in Savings Weekly
Butter is not too difficult to make. You can use a mixer, food processor, or you can even just shake it in a ball jar.
We make about a pound of butter a week. Where we live, that’s about 24 dollars in value if you were to get organic farm fresh pound of butter.
Yogurt – $24 in Savings Weekly
Yogurt is very popular in our house. If you like full fat greek style yogurt… you will LOVE the yogurt you get with your cows, and it’s also not to hard to make. We do about two quarts a week in yogurt, which for us is about $24 in savings.
Soft Cheeses – $10 in Savings Weekly
Do you like Feta Cheese? Maybe a cheese crumble on your tacos? Cottage cheese? Soft cheeses are much easier to make than hard cheeses. K makes a few soft cheeses each week, and we save about $10.
Hard Ways to Save Money with a Milk Cow
The next category includes many ways that you can save money with a milk cow, but that will require special equipment, skills, and maybe other people.
Imagine you go to culinary school to learn to become a chef. Just because you learn how to be a chef dosn’t mean you will become a master Baker. Some of the skills can overlap, but there’s still a whole new set of techniques you’ll be trying to learn.
It is the same with a cow… Just because you are good at keeping and milking a cow doesn’t necessarily mean you will be good at making…
Hard Cheese – $28 in Savings Weekly
At the beginning of her family cow journey, K wanted to do all the hard cheeses for our family. In the first year, she “failed miserably” (her words…) with most of them.
“Your kids love that melty orange cheese on their quesadillas… so I would go through all the steps of making my cheese that I made from scratch and the kids would peel off all the cheese I made and just eat the crust. I wasted a lot of milk and a lot of cheese making supplies.”
The point is… Just be prepared for some failures.
Now, K is much better at making hard cheese. She got all the equipment, learned how to make a few different nice cheeses, and even has a cheese cave fridge that she has been slowly filling with some aged cheeses! YUM!
K makes about two pounds of hard cheese a week, which is about $28 in savings for us.
Ice Cream – $20 in Savings Weekly (but not us currently…)
Ice cream is another ‘more difficult’ product that in time you can save money doing.
To make Ice Cream, you’re probably going to want to buy some ice cream making machine (we got this one affiliate link).
I got really into making ice cream. I like nerded out on it. I subscribe to ice cream making YouTube channels, and I learned how to make ice cream super creamy.
It took forever, I made a lot of mistakes, had a lot of bad batches.
Finally K figured it out… (secret tip… corn syrup really improves your Ice Cream… just saying)
We’re not saving any money making ice cream right now so we’re not gonna add any savings to that category in our own ticker… but you might if you’re a big ice cream consumer.
Beef – Hundreds in potential savings
When you breed your cow, eventually you will have a Bull calf. Most bulls are not breeding worthy specimens, and so they make a pretty yummy addition to your freezer.
But… like the Baker and the chef illustration… raising beef cows and learning to butcher them are two very different skill sets that will take a lot of time to develop on their own.
To butcher a beef you’ll either need to learn the skills and have some special equipment to lift up that beef carcass, to cut through the beef carcass, etc, or you’ll need to have a trailer that you can load your beef cow up onto and have a butcher lined up.
Butchers can be really hard to schedule, so book them months to years in advance.
It’s in the hard category because there’s a lot to juggle but you might get into a groove and then it becomes very easy to save money on beef.
Honestly we have not saved any money on beef because all our bulls we’ve either sold or traded or kept and are currently using so we do have some we will eventually eat but we’ve not saved a dime yet on beef so nothing to add in our category under savings.
Animal Feed – $30 in Weekly Savings
Chances are, if you have a homestead, you have some other animals that need a good protein diet, and raw milk is loaded with the stuff!
Pigs are a great animal to use up all that extra milk that your family is not drinking, byproducts of cheese making and failed cheese making experiments…
We replaced about half of our feed order… we’re talking like thirty dollars a week… on our feed bill this year, and we raised a lot of pigs!
I really suggest you go with pigs, you can feed chickens dairy, but that can get a little complicated as to the benefits and how much you use.
Why is this in the hard category? Seems easy enough to just pour milk into the pig trough and be done, right?
Yes! it is… BUT IF you don’t already have pigs or chickens or another animal, we put in the hard category because you have to learn a whole other animal, you have to fence a whole other animal, set up for a whole other animal, and that’s a lot!
If you have never owned a cow OR pigs… we suggest only starting with one at a time. Don’t get a family milk cow AND also get your first two pigs .
Get the pigs for a year, learn the pigs, then get the milk cow, or vice versa.
Those are all the food items you can save money on with a family milk cow, but there are a few more bonus savings you can get from your cow…
Black Gold… Manure!
There’s value in this fertilizer! We’re able to just leave the cows in the pasture most of the time so they can just spread it all themselves great savings for us as homesteaders especially at our new property where we’re really going to be aiming to build soil up!
This actually does save the Family Farm money too.
Before we ran cows, they used to buy fertilizer and spread it with a tractor. Now we get our fertilizer and have it spread for free!
Mowing (Fuel Savings)
Another service the cows provide for us is mowing.
When we first moved to the family farm and we only had a couple cows I had to mow every summer multiple times.
Since then our herd has grown a lot. Last year I never mowed the entire property, just a couple spot mowings where some stuff was getting too woody for the cows to eat, that was just a few hours of fuel.
We figured about $10 weekly between Diesel and fertilizer costs and wear and tear on the tractor.
All totaled up.. Our family milk cow saves us about $200 a week with all the goods she supplies!
Quick warning though.. if you are in the research stage of your family milk cow Journey and are thinking your gonna suddenly save so much money when you get your cow…
We talked about this in our last video in this Family Milk Cow Economics Series.
A family milk cow is a lot of up front cost, and expensive to keep.
We figured about $50 on average weekly in cost.
That means if you don’t currently spend more (and a lot more probably) than $50 a week on your dairy and other products mentioned above, it will take you a LONG TIME before you are actually saving money with your cow.
Think of it like a Costco membership. You absolutely can save money with a Costco membership, but you have to spend more money (and handle more product) to do so.
A family milk cow will cause you to spend a lot more than most people do on dairy already, but in the long run, if you are successful, you can save a lot of money, and even EARN money, which we will cover in the next part of this series.