"There is nothing better then fresh milk, cream, butter and ice cream"
Dairy cows were a nutritional necessity during the colonial times and even in the 20 century. Milk helped to fatten pigs and hens as well as feed the family.
Dairy cattle can perform the same functions today for modern homesteaders, and first time farmers if the dairy cow is given the care and attention needed.
They requires daily attention twice a day and is a major responsibility. It's a big animal weighing up to 1,200 pounds and requires large amounts of forage and grain.
Before you go out and buy a milk cow, make sure you have a minium of 2 acres of high quality, well drained pasture.
A good barn that is well ventilated, a good milking stall, and a place to keep at least one winters feeding of hay and straw.
Contact your country extension agent to find out if artificial insemination is available in your area. Your cow will need to be bred at least once each year.
Try to find a cow that is gentle, and is use to hand milking. A dairy cow that is four or five years old will have several good years of milking ahead of it.
If you are a beginner, you might consider a bred heifer, buy breaking it in for milking could become a problem you don't want to tackle.
It cannot be milked until after the calf is born. This will give the novice milker a chance to become acustomed to the heifer and adjust to chores of caring for it.
When I first started, I bought a three day old heifer calf and bottle fed it.
During that time, I halter broke it, fed it twice a day, brushed it and even practiced milking it.
It is a demanding job and take at least two years before it is time to calf, but it also allow me and my heife (Beauty) to get use to each other.
So, the first calf came along and it was time to milk Beauty.
It was a great experience and she was already use to me which lead to a stress free milking.
When you buy your first cow, it should have clear eyes, a trim body and a smooth, elastic udder.
Check to see if the udder is lumpy. You do not want a lumpy udder, but protruding veins are typical of a good milk producer.
After all, you will be drinking fresh milk, butter, cheeses and much more.
You can learn dairy products information on how to churn butter, make cottage chees, cheese and much more.
Try to see if you can watch the owner milk the cow several times before you buy, and watch for any signs of trouble.
You don't want stringy milk or clots or blood in the milk.
Some breeders will give only a general estimate. but try to get milk production records for the cow.
Try to buy from a reliable breeder with a good reputation for standing behind the cow.
I strongly suggest that you do not buy a dairy cow from the sale barn. If you do, you will probably be getting someone elses problems.
The breeder should have proof that the cow is free from tuberculosis and brucellosis. These diseases are rare today, but they are dangerous because they can infect humans.
Have the breeder guarantee in writing that the animal he sells you is able to bear calves and in good condition. Many want to tell you that it is sold as is.
That is not acceptable from a reputable breeder.