Milk cows are truly the stars of our homestead.
It’s no secret that I’m in love with our dairy cows. I spent many years going back and forth between dairy cows and dairy goats, but if you’ve listened to my podcast episode about how I’m pruning my life these days, you know that I’ve finally decided on focusing on our family milk cows for our dairy needs.
In fact, I personally feel that dairy cows are some of the biggest assets to ANY modern homestead.
Not only do dairy cows allow your family to have easy access to fresh dairy products, but having to use excess milk is actually an awesome bonus for your homestead.
Why is excess milk a plus?
Well, let’s take a closer look at the multiple ways to use up extra milk from the family milk cow.
Use Excess Milk in the Kitchen
Obviously, using excess milk to make other dairy products is pretty much a given (check out some other dairy recipes here). Homemade ricotta anyone? Cream cheese smeared on crackers? Yes, please. Pizza night with homemade mozzarella? Don’t mind if I do (if you’re nervous about making homemade mozzarella, check out my Heritage Cooking Crash Course, where I show you how to make it with a step-by-step video).
Here are some additional ideas for baked goods and other kitchen products that can help use up lingering milk:
- Make homemade pudding
- Make buttermilk to use in homemade biscuits, breads, and a variety of other baked goods
- Treat your family to homemade cheesecake made with homemade cream cheese
- Make homemade ice cream
- Make a big batch of sausage gravy (serve it anytime of the day, not just breakfast!), and you can even freeze leftovers for easy weeknight dinners
- Make creamy soups (corn chowder and potato soup are good ones)
- Add fresh milk to your daily smoothies or homemade milkshakes
- Make homemade hot chocolate
- Bring homemade mac and cheese to your next family gathering
- Speaking of cheese, make homemade cheese sauce
- Braise and/or marinade meat in fresh milk–some people say that milk marinades help remove the gamey flavor of wild meat
- Use milk in place of water in almost any recipe, especially homemade breads
- Make homemade coffee creamer (I’ve got a delicious Salted Caramel Coffee Creamer recipe in my cookbook)
Using Excess Milk to Feed Livestock (or Pets)
It’s no secret that feeding livestock can be expensive. Having tons of milk can actually help. Chickens, pigs, and even homestead dogs will appreciate some milk supplemented into their diet. The high protein in milk is especially great for growing pigs. Be aware that chickens are technically slightly allergic to dairy products, so make sure to feed them milk in smaller increments at first and see how your flock tolerates the dairy before feeding in large portions.
I don’t know about you, but for me turning excess dairy products into eggs and bacon seems like magic. Not to mention the money it saves on grain and feed.
Whenever we do raise pigs and have a cow in milk at the same time, I feel like a homestead rockstar–doing exactly what our grandparents used to do and using my resources well.
Excess milk can also be a great alternative to milk replacer if you have orphaned calves. We (sadly) almost always have at least one stranded calf during calving season (usually beef calves from our beef herd), so having dairy cows in milk saves us a TON on milk replacer (that stuff isn’t cheap!).
Use the Extra Milk in Your Garden
Diluted milk is a great garden supplement. It’s especially good for plants that either have or are prone to powdery mildew.
You can either water the milk down 50/50 with water and spray it directly on leaves, or pour it around plants like you would normally do with water. Milk is full of calcium, protein, vitamins and sugars that are really good for plants and help them grow and produce better. It has been found that spraying plants with milk weekly drastically helps prevent diseases due to anti-fungal properties (source).
Watering plants with milk also helps prevent blossom end rot, since that’s caused by lack of calcium (find more tomato growing tips here).
However, keep a few things in mind when using milk in the garden. One thing to consider is that spraying milk on your plants can leave odors behind, depending on how the wind blows. On a working homestead, this probably isn’t a big deal, but maybe avoid spraying plants that are near windows you open frequently.
Another thing is to NEVER spray undiluted milk on plants. This can actually stunt them.
Also remember that although milk provides nutrients to plants, it doesn’t actually help the soil (you can learn some ways to improve your soil here).
Use Excess Milk to Make Skincare Products
Fresh milk is not only good and nourishing for our bodies, it’s also great for our skin.
You can also make lotions, body bars, facial masks, and even body scrubs with milk. You can also try making a milk bath to rejuvenate your dry skin.
Even just rinsing your face in cold milk can work as a natural cleanser and toner. Milk can even be turned into haircare. You can find milk hair masks and conditioning treatments online with a quick search.
Use the Extra Milk to Feed Your Milk Kefir
Milk kefir is a fermented milk that is a delicious drink (similar to drinkable yogurt), and it is way better for you than those sugary yogurts and beverages that come from the store. Learn how to make your own kefir here. Since kefir needs regular feedings, it’s a great way to continually use up your extra milk.
Since kefir is fermented, it’s also really great for your gut. Here are some more of my fermented food recipes, in case you’d like to learn more gut-healthy foods to make in your kitchen:
- How to Make Sauerkraut
- Homemade Fermented Pickle Recipe
- Lacto-Fermented Green Beans Recipe
- Easy Fermented Mustard Recipe
- Homemade Fermented Ketchup Recipe
Use Your Cream to Make Ghee (aka Clarified Butter)
You can separate the cream off the top of your extra milk and make that cream into butter and then, if you want, you can turn that butter into ghee. Turning homemade butter into ghee makes it shelf stable. It also has a higher smoke point which is helpful for stir frying, roasting, and even deep frying. Plus, making butter into ghee makes it friendlier on the gut for your lactose-free family members. Learn how to make ghee from this tutorial.
Turning fresh, perishable cream into a shelf-stable product like ghee is a great way to easily story fresh dairy for later, and not even take up fridge or freezer space.
Of course, you can also just use the excess cream to just make homemade butter. Check out my video below to see just how easy it is to make homemade butter.
Dehydrate or Freeze Excess Milk for Later
In order to dehydrate your extra milk, you need to have closed trays for your dehydrator. You can then rehydrate the dehydrated milk powder for drinking later, or used dried milk in your recipes.
Frozen milk lasts for months in the freezer. And it’s super simple. Just fill up your freezer-friendly containers with milk, making sure to leave enough headspace for expansion, and pull out of the freezer and thaw when you need milk.
Use Excess Milk to Barter for Things You Need
While you may be swimming in milk, your neighbor might not be. Use what you have access of as a bartering tool to trade for things you’re not swimming in. For example, does your neighbor have an extra firewood that you need? Sweet. Figure out how much your product is roughly worth, and work out a deal that benefits you both.
Bartering is a wonderful old-fashioned skill that can be super beneficial to both parties, and no money even needs to be exchanged. I truly believe that building community is a super important aspect to the homesteading lifestyle. Bartering is a great way to start making & building connections in your community.
Or, if you’re not in the mood to barter, giving milk away as gifts or for no reason can really bless your friends, family, and neighbors.
Final Thoughts on Having Extra Milk…
I hope this list of ways to use up extra milk from your family milk cow has inspired you for the next time you’re drowning in milk.
Being overwhelmed with excess milk is both a HUGE blessing and yet also a bit stressful as you try to navigate ways to use it up before it goes bad. If it DOES go a bit sour, though, all is not lost. Check out my tips on ways to use up sour milk to help you out even more. Good luck with all your new dairy adventures!
Interested in making cheese with your extra milk? Check out my favorite supplier of home cheesemaking supplies. They even sell kits for beginners to make it easy to get started with confidence!
More Home Dairying Tips:
- A Video Tour of My Milking Parlor (Before and After)
- The WORST Part About Owning a Milk Cow (video)
- How to Milk Once a Day
- Cheap Milking Equipment for Home Dairy
- Home Dairy 101: Cow vs. Goat