Cows for the Smallholder by Val Porter

Cows for the Smallholder by Val Porter

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This is a very comprehensive guide to all aspects of dairy management and would suit anyone with just one or two house cows, but would still be very informative for those running a small herd.

The author, Valerie Porter, begins by considering the benefits and drawbacks of keeping cows. She affectionately described the various breeds - their characteristics and suitability. She also studies behaviour patterns and advises on how best to handle livestock.

The practicalities of cow keeping - equipment and accommodation, food and feeding are covered in detail; also pregnancy, birth, calves and the general health of cows.

What of the produce? Milk and its by-products are the subject of Chapter 9, with advice on how to get the most from cows and a multitude of suggestions for dairy, including the manufacture of cream, ice cream, yoghurt, butter and cheese. In the final chapter of the book, alternative outlets and other possibilities are discussed.

A substantial appendix contains all the facts for easy reference - condition scoring, food tables, costings, and much more.

Illustrated throughout with black & white photographs, graphs & diagrams.

About the author

Val Porter has written several books on breeds of livestock worldwide (cattle, pigs and goats) and on caring for cows in particular. Cows are something of a passion: she worked with a Jersey dairy herd and kept her own Jersey housecows in the 1970s, and through them she became interested in rare breeds of cattle at a time when the 'black-and-whites' were so dominant that there was little space left for anything more colourful.

She has been a member of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust for many years and was co-author of the Trust's history, Saving the Breed.

Book details

192 pages
Pelham Books
Publication date
June 1988



Wednesday 23 May, 2012 at 5:58pm

I love this book. It's very readable and yet contains a lot of detailed technical information too. It is aimed at the smallholder wanting (or already owning) a house cow (or more) and covers pretty much everything you need to know from deciding if having a house cow (or two) is for you, through choosing your breed onwards. All aspects of the house cow's life are covered, and, as you would expect from Val Porter, there is quite a bit of how the cow might see things included, for instance in the descriptions of how you could choose to manage your cow and her calf - but she's even-handed not preachy and describes all systems with their pros and cons.

It doesn't tell you how to make cheese, you will need another book for that! ;)


Wednesday 23 May, 2012 at 6:02pm

Correction to my last - she does include very very basic descriptions of how to make butter, cheese, etc.

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