Well before we got our first cows, we consulted all the cattle books below to learn how best to feed, house, fence, train and manage them. Even now, we continue to consult these books whenever we need to make ruminant dietary changes, move forward with oxen training, build new housing or dairy facilities, or otherwise move towards our beef and dairy goals. We have found these cattle books to be well written, pleasant to read and in some cases, beautiful to look at. Amongst all the books out there on cows for the small family farm, these are amongst the best of the batch. We highly recommend them.
The Family Cow by Dirk van Loon
This is the cow book many of us start with, and for good reason. This is possibly the single best source of information on how to care for your cow, getting it right the first time. How to select the breed, purchase the individual, set up her yard, her shelter, feed her, breed her, deliver her calf and milk her. Dirk van Loon is a well respected writer and his years of experience are evident. Plus it's clear that he loves his cows. If you're thinking of buying a cow but you're not sure how to get started, this is an excellent book to start with.
Salad Bar Beef by Joel Salatin
Joel Salatin has been re-writing the book on profitable family farming for several decades, and beef production is one of his family farm's core enterprises. In this book he describes very clearly how pastured beef production can be a satisfying, profitable enterprise for a family farm. If you're a small scale producer and want to add beef to your operation, his book will give you a lot to to think about and some goals to set.
Oxen: A Teamster's Guide by Drew Conroy
Oxen have been, and still are, an excellent choice for power on the small family farm. They have more power than most small farm tractors, better mobility in tight quarters, very docile temperaments, and they can be trained by children as a 4H project. Of modern teamsters Drew Conroy is one of the best. He has spent a lifetime not only working with his own oxen teams but he has traveled the world to learn how different societies have partnered with this gentle giant. Very highly recommended.
In Praise Of Oxen by Terry James
Some books communicate very well through text, graphs, charts, and tables. Other books communicate almost purely through illustrations and photographs. This oxen book is one of the latter. it is a gorgeous visual tour through the world of modern oxen keeping. The book interviews a wide variety of oxen keepers and teamsters, with luscious photos of that partnership in the field, in the woods, in the barn, and in the showring. If you ever wanted a coffee table book showing beautiful imagery of oxen on the landscape, this book is for you.