A cow is a big commitment to make and requires special care. There are many details to consider in eluding feed, housing, fencing, and other equipment. Here are my favorite cow supplies to have on hand.
Now, they’re both expecting calves this winter and will both be in milk. They are the sweetest girls and we love them dearly. But keeping family dairy cows is a big commitment and a lot of work.
After you have deeply researched and thought through these major factors, located a cow that’s just right for your family, and made the proper preparations, there are a few basic cow supplies that you’ll want to have on hand.
Here are my favorite cow supplies that we have come to depend on over the years with our dairy cows.
Rope Halter for Cows
You’ll need to have a cow halter for use in moving your cow around. You might not always need to use one, depending on how your cow is trained, but you really need to at least have one just in case.
There are many types of halters available in feed stores and online. Our daughter has a fancy leather halter to use in the show ring when taking our cow to the fair.
However, for day-to-day use and just to have on hand, we really love these basic rope halters for cows. They’re inexpensive, easy to put on the cows, and they work great.
We have one for each cow so if we need to move them around, load them into a trailer for a trip, or take them on walks, we can easily halter them up with these rope halters and go.
Besides just hay, cows require other supplements, including loose minerals, baking soda, kelp, apple cider vinegar, or whatever you determine that your cow needs based on your location and the needs of your specific cow.
Once you know what you should be offering your cow at free choice, you’ll want a handy place to set these supplements out for your cow to easily get as needed.
These plastic fence feeders for cows work great. They’re inexpensive, easy to screw into place, and hold plenty of whatever you need them to.
Available online or at feed stores, they hook over fencing or stalls, depending on where your set-up for your cow. Then your cow will be able to lick the supplements as needed.
Livestock Water Troughs
A five-gallon bucket is not going to work for a dairy cow! Dairy cows, especially when in milk, drink many gallons of water a day. Sometimes 30 or more!
They need to have a large water trough that will provide enough water for them at all times. You can’t expect to continuously fill a small water bucket and think your cow is getting enough.
Water is a top priority so getting a large livestock water trough is a must. We have a 75 gallon trough that we fill every other day or two, depending on the season and whether or not our cows are in milk.
I hope to upgrade to a 100 or even a 150 gallon trough by the time they both calve next. Then we won’t have to fill it quite as often!
Livestock water troughs can be expensive but are well worth it to know that your cow will always have access to plenty of water. Check your local feed store for options, or ask around, you might find someone with an extra trough to sell at a good price.
Brushes for Cows
Although not a top priority, it’s nicer to have a few brushes on hand for your cows. Not only is brushing a cow so enjoyable and a nice way to spend time with them, it’s also an important way to keep cows fairly clean.
Brushing off any dirt and hay before milking helps to keep any of that from falling into the milk. I always brush Honey before I milk her. It only takes a few minutes, she enjoys it, and it’s a way for me to keep the milking environment extra clean.
You really don’t need anything too specific! We just went to our local feed store and picked up a few basic horse brushes. One with stiffer bristles and a softer one, as well as a hoof brush.
Grooming your dairy cow is a great way to spend time with them, keep them clean and healthy, and maintain a dirt-free milking environment.
Other Cow Supplies
Here are a few other cow supplies that have come in handy:
- A good hose-You’re going to be filling that large water trough often so make sure to have a good quality hose that will reach to wherever your trough is located. We invested in an extra-long cold-weather hose that works in our negative winter temperatures.
- Strong stall door locks-Depending on your housing situation, you might have an indoor barn area for your cows to enjoy as they please. We have a barn with several stalls and the cows have access to a couple of the stalls from their pasture. Then at milking time, we lead them through the stall doors into the part of the barn where we milk. We learned the hard way that weak stall door locks can easily be broken through! We promptly replaced them with heavy-duty stall hooks.
- Buckets-Buckets are always handy when you own any type of livestock. They can have numerous uses, including feeding grain, feeding milk to older calves, refilling the fence feeders, and more.
- Livestock water heater-This will depend on where you live but here in Alaska, they are a necessity. We like the kind that sinks to the bottom of the trough and we keep a spare one just in case it goes out. Make sure to have an extension cord as well.
- Hay feeder-I hope to have one of these one day but they’re not a necessity and can be pricey. However, they’re nice for reducing hay waste.
- Metal pitch fork-You’ll need a good quality pitch fork for all of the heavy waste you’ll be moving.
These are just a few of my favorite cow supplies. We like to pamper our girls because they give us so much and having these supplies on hand has helps us do that.