Three years ago, we decided to stop milking Jersey cows. It was partly because of my work schedule, but also partly because of the unnecessary difficulty keeping a quality Jersey bull for breeding and figuring what to do with older cows who were not worth butchering. We looked into starting a herd of Dexters–and what a great decision it has been. We bought 2 cows, 3 heifers and a bull in 2016 and just under 2 years later have 5 cows, 3 heifers, 2 steers and a bull. Everyone here on the farm loves them.
This week, with break from my work, I decided to get one of the cows milking. We had one 2.5 year old Dexter cow who had her first calf last fall, whom we identified as the one we wanted to be our milk cow. She had nice udders and friendly disposition and, being red, was sort of an outcast in our all-black herd. Despite being far along in lactation with her first calf, she gave me a little over a gallon on hehr first day in the milk room, and it was as easy as milking a goat. This morning, I milked “Red” before Mass and was down to the milk room, back and cleaned up in 30 minutes.
So, yes, less milk than a Jersey, but also much less work, time and feed. We’re not interested in drinking glasses of cold milk (which is what causes all the pasteurization fuss), but having enough for my wife to cook with each day. Often, milking Jerseys just becomes impossible day by day, especially when one is not a full-time farmer (who is?), but I believe that milking a Dexter is more realistic for us.