Raising Cow in Woods

enggass

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Hi all - I have 10 acres of wooded land, lots of Oak trees. Small hobby farm I'd like to grow. Would love to add a milking cow. I can cut trees, put up fencing, shelter etc... but there is no real pasture. Has anyone here raised a 'cow in the woods' so to speak and fed primarily hay year round? What can I do to make a cow a reality on my property as it is now... What are the pitfalls?
Thanks!!
Steve
 

farmerjan

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First off :welcome Yes you can have a milk cow with just hay and grain (and maybe a little corn silage bought from a neighbor dairy farmer???) Yes, you can just feed the animal. The biggest thing that could be a problem is the oak trees when they drop their acorns. Cattle can get poisoned from eating too many of them and it is a condition here in Va just called " looks like they've been in acorns" Seriously, the acorn shells are very sharp and the tannic acid in them seems to combine to cause severe gastric problems. Everyone here makes sure that the cattle can't get into the woods with oaks in the fall. By winter it doesn't seem to be a problem.
Do you have access to good hay, even some alfalfa that the cow can get some additional protein from, as well as good quality grass type hay? Timothy, orchard grass, or something like that? Think about how many dairies have total confinement facilities nowadays. No pasture is not the end of the world, and if she can get out for exercise and to be able to get out into the fresh air and all, she will do okay. The feed costs will naturally be higher, but it is definitely doable. The cow's milk will not have the richer flavor that comes from grass and the butterfat may be a little lighter in color due to not getting the green grass..but if you can put up a shelter and fence it, GO FOR IT. If you plan on milking her, make sure that you can close it up or you will freeze if the weather gets too cold. She will need protection from the weather, and she will need plenty to eat to help keep up her body temp and condition in the cold.
Being on the coast of maine you might not get the worst of the cold, just think if you are frozen then she will be cold. The optimal temp for a cows comfort is 40 to 65 degrees. So they can take colder than we can but a dairy cow has less fat on her than a beef cow so will eat more and need a little better protection from the elements. Especially the wind. Any animal can take a good bit of cold if they are not out in the wind. I'd go for it. If you take a few trees down, you can manage to get her a little grass growing.
 

enggass

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Thanks. I will definitely be taking down trees... Especially the oaks! I may even get some goats in just to help clear some of the land, then maybe some pigs to tear it up prior to introducing a cow to my collection. I'd like to get some grass growing so at least there is a bit... We have just recently moved onto this land - my goal for the cow is more long term than short term.
Thanks for the welcome,
Steve
 

ReluctantFarmer

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Just an opinion from a novice, but pastures are work to keep up on also. We have ~15 acres of wooded land the cows have access to. Some oaks, and afaik, we haven’t had too much issues (probably depends on the type of oaks also, I believe we have red oak that make a small acorn).

We also have a 10 acre hay pasture that didn’t get much attention for a few years and now it is chock full of locust, hackberry, osage orange, and other “pest” vegetation.

My only point is perhaps you only clear out the minimum you need. If the trees you have are of any age at all, you’ll only get to make the choice to knock them down once.

You might find as you get older you like raising deer, turkey, racoons, and other wildlife more than cows.

Of course, take my advice with a grain of salt. If you showed me 100 acres of flat clear ground, all I see is work. I just don’t like riding around in circles that much. Show me 100 acres of wooded land, with river access, and I’m as giddy as a school girl :-D
 
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ReluctantFarmer

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Careful what you wish for. I have that (with only part of it wooded) and that river can be way more 'accessible' than you might imagine.

Oh yeah I hear ya. My grandparents have land on the river, and about every 4-5 years they are replacing washed out fence, and running off the new pack of school kids who found a new place to party :-(
 

greybeard

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Baymule

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Greybeard and wife had to paddle their boat to higher ground on that one……. my sister lives near a river and got 7' of water in the house, they were rescued from their 2nd story. Thank you hurricane Harvey.

How about wishing for a small creek? :lol::lol:
 

Baymule

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I see you plan on having hogs, take a look at my feeder pig thread. I built a Pig Palace that I can feed and water the pigs from the OUTSIDE and don't have to go in the pen. I love it!

https://www.backyardherds.com/threads/baymule’s-pigs-2018-herefords.37448/

Then, because I do crazy things, we got a HUGE boar off Craigslist and had to build a trough for him, he was too big to get his head in either of the feeders we had.

https://www.backyardherds.com/threads/baymules-500-pound-boar.38333/
 
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