rocket mass heater workshop*
Permies likes goats, sheep and llamas and the farmer likes Goats vs Cows permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login


permies » forums » critters » goats, sheep and llamas
Bookmark "Goats vs Cows" Watch "Goats vs Cows" New topic
Author

Goats vs Cows

Sebastian Hammer


Joined: Dec 07, 2011
Posts: 7
I was wondering what y'all thought about raising cows as compared to goats. I am looking for both meat and milk. I am going to be moving to a ~40 acre spot next Spring and was thinking a few goats or cows would be great. I am thinking of devoting 3 to 5 acres to the livestock. Of course, that allocation could change, well, tomorrow even based on what I learn.

My thoughts on the comparison are below, this is just what I have gathered from my initial research and talking to people.

Goats:
Smaller and easier to transport
Eat a wider variety of plant material
Can keep a larger number in the same area so I can keep more females (does?) leading to, seemingly, more consistent milk production
Try harder to get out (even though I do know a dairy guy who seems to think his cows automatically appear outside the electric fence when it is off)
Males seem more territorial
Easier to butcher at home

Cows:
More docile and easier to keep in a fence
Produce way more milk
Little more finicky about what they eat
Easier to control and paddock shift
Milk seems to have more milk fat (which is a definite plus in my book)
Can be used for work easier if need be

So, what do you think?
R Scott


Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 2485
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
    
  21
It really depends on what you have for them to eat.

We have had cattle, goats, and sheep. They all eat different things and our land does best with all three in place.

I could not keep a cow on 3-5 acres, even with perfect paddock management. Maybe if your land is more productive.

Other points:

Goats will destroy young trees quickly--this can be a positive if you are trying to stop weed species from spreading or a negative if you are trying to establish an orchard.

Cattle need more water.

Goats do not do well in wet weather.


http://www.treebytheseafarms.com/
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi. "Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Rose Smith


Joined: Jul 22, 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Chiriqui Province, Panama, Central America
We have found goats need a lot more care than our cows-- hoof maintenance, etc.
The cows are pretty much on auto-pilot.

And what was stated earlier is true, goats do not like wet weather!!!
They need shelter.

Goats are rather polite at the milking station and do not poo all over. My girls generally always take a moment and 'use the restroom' before heading in.
Cows have no such manners and will just eliminate whenever. Messy. Especially when milking.

Goat milk is better for our bodies than cows milk.
http://www.mtcapra.com/benefits-of-goat-milk-vs-cow-milk/

Goats are my favorite barnyard animal. Very personable--especially if you raise them yourself from kids.

If you are only devoting 3-5 acres to livestock, I would recommend goats.

With warm regards--
Rose

thepioneersofpanama.wordpress.com
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3153
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
I agree with Rose except for the last line. If you only have 3-5 acres, get mini cows.


My project thread
Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Sebastian Hammer


Joined: Dec 07, 2011
Posts: 7
I had actually thought about the miniature cow breeds. The ones I had found seem to be on the expensive side. Someone else I had talked to suggested getting, well, everything. He suggested getting a cow, couple goats, maybe throw a couple pigs and a few chickens or ducks all in together. I had even heard having a donkey in the mix will help protect the "herd" from predators.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3153
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
I have mini belted galloways. They are expensive but you might be able to find a small full sized cow that's not registered for much less. Or get a full sized cow and an older mini bull - or do AI with a full sized cow - probably the cheapest.

Pasture that will support 1 cow/acre should support 3 minis.

I have pigs which the cows don't appreciate. Sheep are better than goats IMO. Combine them with cows for a "flerd."

Lastly, I prefer LGDs (must use 2) to donkeys because donkeys will only protect again canines and there are plenty of non-canine predators.
Sebastian Hammer


Joined: Dec 07, 2011
Posts: 7
What are LGDs? The only thing I could come up with is "large guard dog" like a Pyrenees or something. In all honesty, after thinking about it, other than the chickens I don't think I really have to worry much about predators. We have the occasional bobcat and I have heard people talk about panthers, but I think they are both fairly rare. And, really, there are so many deer in the woods I think it would be too dangerous for them to come very close to the house for the calves/kids.
Rose Smith


Joined: Jul 22, 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Chiriqui Province, Panama, Central America
Close Sebastian, LGD's are livestock guardian dogs.

I don't know about mini-cows. Right now we are still farming in Panama, but when we head back to the states to set up a farm there, we will have to check into those.
But that is dependent on $$$.

Sheep are less maintenance than goats... But I am still a softie for goats and would rather keep a few of them around.

Here we have--cows, sheep, and goats... Planned on having chickens too, but since we will be moving back-- will wait till we are settled on the new farm.

The only predator we have is what the natives call "perro-coyotes"... But our rotties usually let us know if something is coming round.
We are looking into a LGD once we move back.

~Rose

thepioneersofpanama.wordpress.com


Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3153
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Livestock Guard Dogs.

If you only have cows you probably wont need them. Especially if you get a heritage breed like Belties that are very good at protecting their young.
A Philipsen


Joined: Jul 10, 2011
Posts: 57
Location: OR - Willamette Valley
If you only have cows you probably wont need them. Especially if you get a heritage breed like Belties that are very good at protecting their young.
For sure. My little bitty Dexters keep their field clear of everything that doesn't live here including wild turkeys, deer, cats, and the neighbor's poor dog. LGDs are barkers, not a problem on a hundred acre spread, but something to consider on 5 acres.

I think, the two main factors to consider are: What do you prefer to eat and drink, and what kind of forage do you have? Goats are browsers, cows are grazers. All else being equal, if you have brush and weeds, goats will be right at home, if you have grass, cows fit better. Otherwise, if you like cow milk and beef, get a cow, if you like goat milk and meat, get a goat. In my experience goats have been significantly easier/better in every way except fencing and even that hasn't been too bad, but we like the taste of cow milk and beef, so we have cows with our goats now. They're unregistered Dexters which, while they're not always easy to find, are going for roughly the same price per pound as any other beef cattle around here.

Other things to consider, milk freezes just fine, you can store some away for dry periods if you go the cow route. Even if you do goats, sometimes it's nice to have everyone dry at the same time so you can have a break. Goat milk can have the same amount of fat as cow milk but look like less since it doesn't separate much. It hurts way less to get kicked by a goat than a cow and if you go the mini route, be prepared to pay through the nose for an experienced milker, or to tame and train your own. I guess it may be different in your part of the country, but here, most mini's are raised for beef. If you don't go the mini route, you could look for a dairy cull. My neighbor had a lovely Jersey with one bad teat who still milked 4 gallons a day, way more than enough for one family and if you breed your Jersey to an Angus, you get a pretty nice calf for the freezer.
Paz Zait-Givon


Joined: Nov 12, 2012
Posts: 5
Sebastian Hammer wrote:I was wondering what y'all thought about raising cows as compared to goats. I am looking for both meat and milk. I am going to be moving to a ~40 acre spot next Spring and was thinking a few goats or cows would be great. I am thinking of devoting 3 to 5 acres to the livestock. Of course, that allocation could change, well, tomorrow even based on what I learn.

My thoughts on the comparison are below, this is just what I have gathered from my initial research and talking to people.

Goats:
Smaller and easier to transport
Eat a wider variety of plant material
Can keep a larger number in the same area so I can keep more females (does?) leading to, seemingly, more consistent milk production
Try harder to get out (even though I do know a dairy guy who seems to think his cows automatically appear outside the electric fence when it is off)
Males seem more territorial
Easier to butcher at home

Cows:
More docile and easier to keep in a fence
Produce way more milk
Little more finicky about what they eat
Easier to control and paddock shift
Milk seems to have more milk fat (which is a definite plus in my book)
Can be used for work easier if need be

So, what do you think?


So far as I can tell the "cows have more milk fat" isnt always true, it may be true of some cows and some goats but a jersey cow(famed for her comparably high milk fat content) has about 5% butterfat(or milkfat whichever you prefer) where as Nigerian dwarf goats have 6-10%. This doesn't mean goats always have the upper hand in terms of fat content, a goat bred for high volume milk goat(saanen) produces around 3.5% milkfat, far less than our high cream content lower milk volume jersey cow.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet is that goat milk is naturally homogenized. It is far more difficult to get the cream to rise to the top though some patient people say it can be done than it is in cow milk which is not.

Also goats produce white milk wheras some cows produce yellow milk though others also produce white milk.


Both goats and cows are herd animals but I suspect that cows are less "clingy" goats really require a companion, many people successfully keep a single cow though.

Cows are considered to be mostly grazers, they prefer to eat more grasses and forbs while goats prefer woodier things, not just trees, they are great for clearing any kind of brush.

I am going to put in something obvious that we kind of danced around: goats are smaller than cows. This means that they are easier for predators to get and for humans to handle as well as needing less food. This also means a lower total volume of milk per capita.

Have you considered sheep? I think they are harder to tame but they are a good multipurpose animal, fiber, milk, and meat. You cant really do that with goats they put most of their effort into either fiber with angora or milk with milk breeds, though milk and meat can be dual purpose. They also have a very high milk solids content, higher than both goats and cows.

 
Appropedia.org
 
subject: Goats vs Cows
 
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books