Farm Economics: Home Dairy

Sarah, a 13yo Jersey dairy cow.

At the store, milk sells for around $4 per gallon. A large family might drink 6 gallons in a week–that’s almost $100.00 per month. Add to that the bill for butter, cheese, yogurt, cream…and it may get closer to $200.00 per month. Over 18 years, you will have spent $43,200 on dairy products. That is not the worst part. After your children leave, you will continue spending money on dairy products for the rest of your life. They will all do the same.

If you’d like to do that, fine, but let’s consider an alternative for those who’d rather not. A pregnant Jersey cow can be found for under $1,000. (I just bought one for $900 last week). When the cow delivers her calf, fresh Jersey milk will be available for milking. How much? 3-5 gallons per day. At $4 per gallon, that would be $12-20 per day or $360-600 of milk per month. The value is more since with that milk is included cream for butter, ice cream, etc.. After 10 months of milking, you could have easily collected up to $3,600 worth of milk from a $1000 cow. Instead of spending money on milk, you would have had milk coming out of your ears and a gain $2,600. Use all you want, give it to friends and family and you can still sell all you like. That’s a little different from buying milk, no?

Ah, but there are other expenses. An acre of electric fencing may cost $700.00, an electric milking machine could run $1,600 and a barn, well that could cost $3,000-5,000 and other equipment might cost you up to $500.00, bring a total investment up to $5,800-$7,800. I guess you lost, huh?


1. Your milk cow can make more milk. After some time off, she can be breeded again and in 9 months, the milk will flow again. With a second cow, you could stagger briths so that milk supply was constant for years.
2. Remember you have another cow now! If it was a female, you have another milk-producer! If it was a boy, you can have a year’s supply of beef standing in the field. Butchering a beef cow would cost $0.50/lb, so you can see what your savings on meat would be.
3. You might not need to go to the grocery stort any longer if your dairy products are home-made.
4. Your family will have been busy with all the milk processing…and ice cream eating. The TV and video games would have been covered with dust and you’d have some active kids.
5. You’d have a barn that could now house sheep, chickens, goats and more…and the gains continue to multiply.

Do the math and move towards your own home dairy. Your grandchildren will be richer for it.

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3 Responses to Farm Economics: Home Dairy

  1. Kelly Caraway says:

    How very interesting and ironic? Over the holidays my family tried fresh cow’s milk and loved it. My husband’s family use to get it when he was small. I had this impression from others that it wouldn’t taste as good as the whole milk in the store. Wrong! We all loved it, and quickly made an appointment with the farmer! My 4yr had a milk allergy(egzema) after I weaned her from breastfeeding, and she has been on soymilk ever since. I can’t wait to see how she tolerates the fresh milk.

    • villapacis says:

      All the fear is due to careless reporting and ignorance. The health dangers in farming are found in the mega-farms where they unnaturally try to maximize profit. It is in those nasty places that all of the dangers are found as they try to mass-produce, then ship and store for sale in stores.

      On the small farm, there are no dangers like salmonella poisoning, milk bacteria, etc.. Everything is fresh and clean. If we don’t drink or use our fresh milk, we give it to the chickens because a new batch comes in the next morning. Our products are usually eaten and gone before the mega-farm’s products would have even made it to the store. Then, to preserve the products they have to add a million and one chemicals that are purely designed to make money, not promote health. That is where the health dangers are–not the small farm. Them odern scientific community loves to pretend that its brilliant methods have no negative effects, so they pretend that their problems belonged to old-fashioned farmers as well–that they’re just natural and unrelated to their modern methds. Not so.

  2. Jessica B says:

    This info is very inspiring as my family and I contemplate a move to our own family farm. Growing up in the suburbs, we really have no practical experience with farm life. However, our hearts continue to feel the pull. So, we are doing a lot of book learning while we prepare to follow the Lord’s promptings. Keep the inspiration coming, please. God bless you for generously sharing your experiences and thoughts.

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