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Thanks for reading. I’ll try and keep this to the point. My family (husband and 3 kids 5 and under) moved to Texas from Chicago a year ago for my husbands job. We’re going to be moving back to Illinois in 6 months and the plan is to get a farm property somewhere in McHenry county.

I’ve been working at a progressive dairy since we moved here and fell in love with cows and am determined to become a cow owner. We mainly want the farm for our family and I really want a few dairy cows so we can source our own raw milk. My husband and I will be first gen farmers so as you all know that’s an uphill battle from the start. The farmer I currently work for knows and appreciates my passion and offered to cut a deal with me and give us 2 heifer newborn calves. We’d have to raise them at our house on calf replacer and he said after 2 months we can house them on his property until we move back and then trailer them back to Illinois with us when we leave Texas. Everything in me is telling me to do this but we’re faced with a lot of hurdles and I need to know if this is worth it or if we should wait to buy calves when we move back into our new property in 6 months.

- Our current house is in a subdivision and we’re only leasing so we would have to ask the landlord first and then most likely pay an additional amount per month while the calves are on our property. Our house isn’t zoned AG so we’d be breaking the law technically. Our backyard is 1000 sq ft but completely fenced in with a shed. I also considered mixing it with the yard and garage for overnight and keeping it cracked 6 inches or so for ventilation and so the balling doesn’t bother our neighbors.
- I’m really committed to animal welfare and I can’t decide if doing this (transporting week old heifers in a car to my house) then keeping them in a 1600 sq ft house in a subdivision and worrying about them being quiet is the best environment for them. And then the idea of transporting them back to the dairy I work at where most likely my farmer will just put them in the barn and leave em worries me too. Once they’re back at the dairy I can only come up twice a week since we live an hour away and I’m with my kids full time. Also they’ll probably get used to full time attention living at our home and then the thought of bringing them to the dairy where they’ll be ignored or yelled at for getting into mischief gives me anxiety. They’d also have to be weaned off the bottle at that point and they’ll only be 2 months old. Idk. Am I overthinking this? I know the transport back to Illinois will be expensive but that is something we’ve already factored in. I just can’t tell if this feels like a good idea or like too much trouble. I really just want my cows but I also want to do it right. Help! Any advice appreciated. Thanks for reading.
 

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I see your heart here, but my answer is no. Don't do this; I know you're probably anxious to get started but there are so many problems that could happen with all of these arrangements.

Bottle calves are so delicate. Taking them back to the dairy at 2 months will stress them. Then moving them again to your final destination will stress them. Animals get stressed by ANY kind of change. And that also influences their immune system.

Not to mention the problems with keeping them in a subdivision. Do you have a plan for manure management?

I would wait and do it right when you get to your final place. It will be much easier all around, I promise.

Also...my husband and I are first generation farmers. You can do it. Take your time and do it right.
 

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Thanks for reading. I’ll try and keep this to the point. My family (husband and 3 kids 5 and under) moved to Texas from Chicago a year ago for my husbands job. We’re going to be moving back to Illinois in 6 months and the plan is to get a farm property somewhere in McHenry county.

I’ve been working at a progressive dairy since we moved here and fell in love with cows and am determined to become a cow owner. We mainly want the farm for our family and I really want a few dairy cows so we can source our own raw milk. My husband and I will be first gen farmers so as you all know that’s an uphill battle from the start. The farmer I currently work for knows and appreciates my passion and offered to cut a deal with me and give us 2 heifer newborn calves. We’d have to raise them at our house on calf replacer and he said after 2 months we can house them on his property until we move back and then trailer them back to Illinois with us when we leave Texas. Everything in me is telling me to do this but we’re faced with a lot of hurdles and I need to know if this is worth it or if we should wait to buy calves when we move back into our new property in 6 months.

- Our current house is in a subdivision and we’re only leasing so we would have to ask the landlord first and then most likely pay an additional amount per month while the calves are on our property. Our house isn’t zoned AG so we’d be breaking the law technically. Our backyard is 1000 sq ft but completely fenced in with a shed. I also considered mixing it with the yard and garage for overnight and keeping it cracked 6 inches or so for ventilation and so the balling doesn’t bother our neighbors.
- I’m really committed to animal welfare and I can’t decide if doing this (transporting week old heifers in a car to my house) then keeping them in a 1600 sq ft house in a subdivision and worrying about them being quiet is the best environment for them. And then the idea of transporting them back to the dairy I work at where most likely my farmer will just put them in the barn and leave em worries me too. Once they’re back at the dairy I can only come up twice a week since we live an hour away and I’m with my kids full time. Also they’ll probably get used to full time attention living at our home and then the thought of bringing them to the dairy where they’ll be ignored or yelled at for getting into mischief gives me anxiety. They’d also have to be weaned off the bottle at that point and they’ll only be 2 months old. Idk. Am I overthinking this? I know the transport back to Illinois will be expensive but that is something we’ve already factored in. I just can’t tell if this feels like a good idea or like too much trouble. I really just want my cows but I also want to do it right. Help! Any advice appreciated. Thanks for reading.
 

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I agree with Fairfarmhand, it would be too much stress on your heifers, as well as the problems you will run into with the rules and regulations of the subdivision. It would be better in the long run for you and your heifers if you waited till you got back to Illinois then buy heifers that way they would only have to be move once, I understand how much you want to get started cause I wanted to get started right away but I weighed the pros and the cons and I didn't want to endanger the calfs health either.
 
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