Do Dairy Cows Need Grain?

Dairy Cow Questions with Shawn and Beth Dougherty

Episode Summary

This episode features Shawn and Beth Dougherty. You might have heard our prior episode with the Doughertys discussing low-input farming, but this episode focuses much more on dairy cows. One of my favorite questions that came up was whether or not a dairy cow must be fed grain - this questions and more are covered throughout the episode and we hope you find the discussion inspiring and of value to you, wherever you are in your homesteading journey. To learn more about Little Way Farm and Homestead, including the farm or for other Podcast episodes - please check out, or email us at

About The Guest

Shawn and Beth Dougherty have been farming together since the 1980's Using intensive grazing as the primary source of food energy, the Doughertys raise dairy and beef cows, sheep, farm-fed hogs, and a variety of poultry, producing most of the food, and feed, on the farm. Their ongoing project is to identify and test the potential for operating a farm and homestead with minimal off-farm inputs. They are the authors of The Independent Farmstead, actively contribute to Plain Value magazine, have written for Mother Earth News, Hobby Farms and more. They have been featured in various interviews, podcasts, and conferences Shawn and Beth promote an outline of farming and homesteading that is inspiring to us as we consider the ways we engage in a stewardship model which considers homesteading, farming and the Catholic Faith.

Takeaways from the Episode

This episode reminds us of the importance of considering not only the expertise of others, but also of the uniqueness of our own circumstances. There is a wealth of information available via the internet, books and more - however, what is unique about the homestead and farm near you, is that it has its own challenges and opportunities with topography, resources, labor resources and more. Considering these circumstances and more, it is critical that we all strive to recognize the "why" behind much of the manners in which agriculture operates. In doing so, we can create resilient practitioners of agriculture who are empowered, not only with information, but with a willingness to experiment, test, review and adapt to unique variables experienced in agriculture. We have noticed this at our own farm as we consider how to implement various strategies we learn from others, and then apply those methods to our own land, noting the unique characteristics we experience in Zone 6B. This episode is provides a great opportunity to not settle for only information, but to consider historical agricultural methods which remind us that mechanization is only one method of agriculture.

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Guest Information

Shawn and Beth Dougherty

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