Chatroom

[flourish]
 All Forums
 It's All About the Milk
 Milking
 Drying off a cow
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Next Page
Author Topic
Page: of 4

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Feb 18 2016 :  6:44:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well drying off time is fast approaching as miss sally o'mally's calf is due may 9th!

I can't find anything on HJO about drying off a cow and what everyone prefers as far as methodology. Also can't find any specifics in MCK so wanted to pick everyone's brains. I am purposely ignoring the methods using pharmaceuticals to accomplish this.

There seem to be different ways to approach this:
- cold turkey. just stop milking.
- slow stop. milk out less each day for a week, leaving some milk in the teats each day. production will decrease accordingly and then you can just stop after a week or so.
- alternate stop. skip one day milking, then milk mostly out, then skip two days, then milk mostly out, etc. production will decrease and after a week or so you can stop milking.

i do consistently read that you should stop feeding grain ASAP with this process. it seems logical as that helps increase production.

any thoughts?

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")

Edited by - txbikergirl on Feb 18 2016 6:44:36 PM

CloversMum

3486 Posts


Posted - Feb 18 2016 :  7:18:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We have not yet needed to dry up a cow; however, I've dried up many a goat. I slowly decrease as I think the abrupt stopping would be painful (it would be painful to me anyway!). I milk my goats twice a day usually so I start milking once a day for a week and then go to every other day and observe. If my goats look really engorged then I milk a little out. One thing to note is that as you are decreasing the milk, be careful about using it. I've found that the somatic cell count increases as we get to the end of the milking season and the drying up process.

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; A few Jersey cows; a few alpacas; a few more goats, and even more ducks and chickens
Go to Top of Page

maryjane

7044 Posts


Posted - Feb 18 2016 :  9:56:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm going to milk Miss Daisy as usual until March 1 when I slowly start taking less every day. Every other day wouldn't work for her--she's pretty full in the mornings. I've dried her off before so I know that by March 9, I can probably stop because she will have slowed her milk production down enough (she's due May 9 just like Sally). I've continued to have problems with her left front quarter so I'm worried that if I stop "draining" that quarter, it might get infected (dry mastitis) so I'm considering an injection of Quartermaster in that quarter. It's a slow release antibiotic (I used it successfully on Fanci). It can't be used less than six weeks prior to freshening. If I decide not to do that, I'll need to bring her in frequently to check on that quarter. In doing so, once she's dried off, I might be promoting an infection because one of their defenses against bacteria getting into the teat canal is a plug that forms and I'd be stripping it out to see if anything is brewing in there. I'd never had a cow with dry mastitis before Fanci so I might be overreacting. Also, with Fanci, I plugged her teat that had been infected (once I cleared her dry mastitis up) with Orbeseal, but that stuff continued to come out in the milk for quite a while after she freshened (essentially soft white plastic in the shape of toothpaste only it was in strands that didn't dissolve). I'd rather not use it again.

Cindy, Sally dries off like the dream cow she is. All I did was milk her less every day for about 5 to 7 days and then I quit altogether. As Sally approaches her 6th and 7th month of gestation, she starts to dry herself off naturally (her production drops off). She's never shown any signs of gelling and certainly didn't while I was drying her off. What Charlene says about somatic cell count is true but if you don't see gelling, use the milk by all means. I never once had Sally gel the test. At all. Not even a little during dry-off so you could continue to use her milk if that's the case. A little gelling means their white blood cell count is higher than a certain standard. They're always producing some (it's an important function of their immune system), but an upper limit has been established so that we know when fighting off bacteria has turned into losing the battle.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Feb 19 2016 :  6:54:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
thanks ladies. i find that these things aren't always logical for me, being the numbers girl. and the specific advice with regard to miss sally is always wonderful mary jane - thanks!

i have almost felt this last week that i should start drying her off this weekend, instead of waiting another week to start. there's something about her each morning that is saying that to me... right now i think i will start this process on monday, and do just like mary jane suggests and milk a bit less each day... but i'll see how she is tomorrow and if she tells me to start then i just might dive in tomorrow instead.

i have felt the past three mornings that she is back to being a bit needy again, and i am thinking that just feeding her in her corral and grooming her there and just hanging out while mucking and then taking her straight to the pasture she might be happier now. i can't explain the neediness, its just there again after she had moved past it since christmas. i think she would stay in the corral with me petting her for hours if i could. i think it is pregnancy moodiness and hormones.

i am stopping her grain now though, to help with the milk production decrease.

i'll keep y'all posted on how it goes.


Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
Go to Top of Page

farmlife

1413 Posts


Posted - Feb 20 2016 :  10:50:02 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Feed has a lot to do with it as well. Teresa posted on that at one point. I'll see if I can find it.
Go to Top of Page

farmlife

1413 Posts


Posted - Feb 20 2016 :  10:58:28 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm not finding it either, but I think she said she cut out all feed when she dried off except for grass hay. No alfalfa, grain, etc.
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Feb 21 2016 :  1:49:01 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
thanks keeley. i cut out her grain other than about a 1/2 cup as it is her treat ;> i have been working on that this last week so i didn't make her go cold turkey. she is also off alfalfa pellets already, but i am feeding her chaffhaye along with her dry hay and pasture right now.

i'll keep working on this. she's been happier to milk in the past three days so i am going to milk her one more week before starting the dry off process. and strange enough the past three days she is up one quart more than usual! assuming that warm weather the past two weeks is giving her even better pasture and that is making the difference.

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")

Edited by - txbikergirl on Feb 21 2016 1:50:16 PM
Go to Top of Page

CloversMum

3486 Posts


Posted - Feb 21 2016 :  4:45:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sally doesn't want to give up her time with you! So she'll keep producing ... :)

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; A few Jersey cows; a few alpacas; a few more goats, and even more ducks and chickens
Go to Top of Page

maryjane

7044 Posts


Posted - Feb 21 2016 :  4:53:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In checking my freezer to figure out what I have on hand for when I'm without fresh milk in the later part of March and April, I was pleased to find that I'd run quite a bit of Sally and Etta Jane's milk through my ice cream maker and then popped it into one of our freezers. I'm pretty sure none of us will be without milk for our coffee and the kids might even have enough for cereal but probably not drinking. We have plenty of cheese, though. That last drop will be a sad day. Going forward, I'll try again to make sure we're always in milk year round. Did you hear that Ester Lily and Lacy Lou? And Buttercup?

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Feb 21 2016 :  5:00:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
mary jane, i have been "planning" on doing that for months. lover boy and i chat about it weekly. has. not. happened. we finally just acknowledged last week that we'll be visiting the raw milk dairy a couple of times during the dry period. honestly, i love and miss that place so looking forward to a few trips to say hi and stock up. and its great timing as they'll have fresh pork and beef during that time, so we'll just stock up on a ton of stuff we need including milk for a few weeks ;> it gives me more time outside with the cows and farm right now, instead of inside churning milk into frozen stock.

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
Go to Top of Page

CloversMum

3486 Posts


Posted - Feb 22 2016 :  09:50:03 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
What a treat to be able to go back to your raw milk dairy! It will be fun and I bet you'll see things with a new perspective now that you've been milking yourself!


Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; A few Jersey cows; a few alpacas; a few more goats, and even more ducks and chickens
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Feb 29 2016 :  4:48:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
UPDATE two months later: i am updating my thread here to say the most important thing i have learned in this process: do NOT dry off a cow without having a final ultrasound or pregnancy test to reconfirm the pregnancy. even if you confirmed the pregnancy earlier, drying off a cow is a long-term decision that is even much longer if you find out your cow is not pregnant and not going to deliver on the timeline you thought. if you are a newbie, this is a good idea ;> chubby cows on fresh spring pasture can gain weight and look pregnant to the uneducated eye. ask me how i know this.

_____________________________________

i started the drying off process today. we got a full gallon yesterday, after making sure that elsa the sneaky calf was nowhere near momma for a full day ;>

today i left a little bit of milk in each teat and got 3/4 gallon. i will admit i kept second guessing myself as i didn't want to leave too little, but didn't want to take too much. the "first" everything with cows is always interesting for me.

so i'll report back daily this week to let y'all know how it is going. i am also testing with the CMT daily during this process just because it makes me feel better.

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")

Edited by - txbikergirl on May 24 2016 7:30:38 PM
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Mar 01 2016 :  5:07:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
day two of the sally o'mally dry off. i left even more milk in the udders today than yesterday, felt a little more comfortable with it . she looked like a "B" cup when i was done ;>

but i still got 3/4 gallon, the same amount of milk as yesterday. i thought i would get less milk today, so that was a surprise. but its only day two so it might take time. i do suspect that elsa was taking more milk than i knew about for the last two weeks. so i prob would have been getting well over one gallon per day if the little thief hadn't been at work.

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
Go to Top of Page

maryjane

7044 Posts


Posted - Mar 02 2016 :  03:46:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sounds like you're making steady, sure progress. Sally was an easy cow to dry off--never any problems whatsoever. She has a very strong constitution.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Mar 02 2016 :  08:18:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
thanks mary jane. i appreciate the constant feedback as this more than anything else is a bit worrisome for me. everything else, even birthing, i am just so easy going - but the thought of mastitis makes me a bit hesitant. mastitis and bloat, the only two things i worry about. it helps that i am not a natural worry wort.

today was day three. i got another 3/4 gallon this morning, same as previous two days, and left her looking like a "C" cup post milking. but i did the CMT and everything is perfect. touch wood.

i am so relying on sally's great constitution and her never having mastitis. we'll see how her udder is looking tomorrow morning. i can tell you that last nights udder looked good, not too distended, so that was worth a sigh of relief knowing that it wasn't working overtime while i was refusing to cooperate.

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Mar 03 2016 :  10:25:43 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
ok, day four of the dry off. i really need to take photos to get me through this next time. i swear her udders were bigger this morning, i think if i was milking i would get 1.5-2 gallons. i took half gallon plus one pint, so thats one pint less than yesterday. but i left her with more milk than yesterday - she was C/D cup in the rear and a B in the front. i just decided to stop at one quart each in the back teats and 1/2 quarter each in the front... and with a little/give take it adds up to a little less than three quarts.

CMT still looks great each day so the human just needs to buck up and deal with the process. hopefully tomorrow she'll be producing less milk. i will tell you that upon installing her in the pasture post milking, when i brought elsa down afterwards she was standing in that nursing position by the gate like she was ready to go to it. elsa, however, isn't interested at all and since i separated them last week after witnessing the blasted event elsa doesn't even look twice at sally.. and they aren't together at all now (always separated by either alive electrical or corral panels laced with cattle panels so no nursing possible...

will buck up on this end.


Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")

Edited by - txbikergirl on Mar 03 2016 10:26:22 AM
Go to Top of Page

maryjane

7044 Posts


Posted - Mar 03 2016 :  10:34:19 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Lovin' the cup sizes:) Smile time for me but buck up time in Texas. It seems like such a waste ignoring all that good milk

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Mar 03 2016 :  5:08:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
its killing me to give up the milk. such a waste... but for the best reason in the world ;>

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Mar 04 2016 :  07:12:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
day five. the naivete the human held in approaching this task is showing.

i got the same milk as yesterday, solid half gallon plus one pint. but i was brutal in stopping milking. i shut off the rear quarters at one quart each and still had a solid D cup in both. sigh. then took only about 1/3 quart out of the front quarters and left her with a plush B cup on each. sigh.

so i feel as perhaps i have progressed, at least mentally on my part ;> i just really want to see the udders decreasing and they are soooo full it amazes me. they are fuller than when she came in to milk each morning. before i milked.

but the CMT is still perfectly negative, not even a hint at anything going on. so i am hopeful. tomorrow i am planning to just take a half quart from each rear quarter, a 1/4 quart from each front, and walk away. buck up human.

i do realize on day one i approached it too wimpy, i did take less and leave udders most definitely with milk... but i think i should have been more agressive on day one. although this is the reason i started the process over half a week before i had to, so i have time to get it done and to leave her alone for two whole months. the most important part is she has a great attitude and isn't unhappy, so that is what matters here. she is sooo patient with me, she's amazing.

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")

Edited by - txbikergirl on Mar 04 2016 07:13:04 AM
Go to Top of Page

CloversMum

3486 Posts


Posted - Mar 04 2016 :  11:07:19 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Actually, this is a good sort of problem to have ... instead of wishing for more milk as you watch your cow dry up. I have a couple of goats that start drying up on their own and I always wish for more milk.

Your detailed explanation helps when we come to the time to start drying up Clover. thanks.

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; A few Jersey cows; a few alpacas; a few more goats, and even more ducks and chickens
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Mar 05 2016 :  10:06:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
day six of the dry off. i even got photos today. the good news is that she came in looking exactly as she left yesterday, so at least she didn't get bigger.

i took just under 2/3 quart out of each rear and 1/3 out of each front. i was brutal and just stopped milking mid-stream. but look at these udders, this is the BEFORE and the AFTER. so tomorrow should i just cut the amount of milk i take in half? i am i approaching this right?

and CMT still looks great, no issues. forgot the cup sizes, i know everyone is waiting with bated breath for the update. thinking we are still at a solid D in the rear and a plush B in the front. was spilling the B in front before milking, but just plush post milking. rear is holding steady at that D. sigh.

but her teats are looking great, right?! really healthy and ready for a new calf. i can't wait.




Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")

Edited by - txbikergirl on Mar 05 2016 10:09:29 AM
Go to Top of Page

maryjane

7044 Posts


Posted - Mar 05 2016 :  10:15:27 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I can't resist--great set of teats on that gal Sal! I, of course, noticed her pretty tail--it's the prettiest ever. That girl could win tail contests.

If it were me, I'd take 1/2 tomorrow. She's looking good and no issue with gelling, so go for it.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Mar 05 2016 :  11:16:25 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
thanks mary jane, i asked for opinions because i did truly want them. i do think if i don't just start halving it for the next two days i could milk this gal for years and never stop... tomorrow i will take just 1/3 quart out of each rear and even less out of each front. let's see if we can get a noticeable decrease by monday...

i almost mentioned something about her tail earlier, i didn't even brush it today but its just lovely and swishy. it is soooo pretty. i actually have a special tail brush just for her ;>

i am really glad i started writing this at day one, makes me super confident for next time around as i can be more agressive on day one.

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Mar 06 2016 :  11:46:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
day seven of the dry off. i didn't get photos, you know i always forget my phone, but she came in looking a bit less than yesterday's after photo. i took exactly 1/3 quart from each rear and a little less than 1/4 quart from each front. so not even a whole quart of milk today. ended with still D cup in the rear, but the front looks better like a slight B.

the front is reacting well and drying off, i can see the difference. but the rear just seems full and ready to give me tons of milk. in reality i really think i might be in day three of this process as i started way too slow. and CMT is still clear as a bell, no issues there.

not to be too melodramatic, but this process is akin a bit to when you need to leave the baby in the crib and let her cry through the night, but boy your hormones can't stand to hear that crying baby and you don't really care what "needs" to be done. yes, the baby has been fed and has a dry nappy and is 6 months and needs to learn to comfort herself - and that sounds all well and good in the light of the day, but once the night sky appears and the time comes to practice it, it isn't that easy.

so given the threat of mastitis and how it hangs over our heads, it goes against the grain to bring this lovely milk laden cow into the parlor, spend 15 minutes cleaning her up, then spend exactly 2 minutes milking and let her walk away full of quarts of good milk. when i finished milking, sally literally turned around her head and looked through the stanchion at me like she was thinking, "are you kidding me". she was very sweet, but wondered what the heck the human was up to.

so tomorrow awaits us. perhaps the rear will give me hardly anything and i can walk away...

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")

Edited by - txbikergirl on Mar 06 2016 5:53:53 PM
Go to Top of Page

CloversMum

3486 Posts


Posted - Mar 06 2016 :  3:50:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Love all your descriptions, Cindy. You can do this! When I do dry up my goats that don't dry up by themselves, I do cut the amounts in halves. There are a few days that I might maintain, but then the next day I slash it in half again. Sally will dry up ... and in short order you'll have a beautiful calf AND milk to boot!


Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; A few Jersey cows; a few alpacas; a few more goats, and even more ducks and chickens
Go to Top of Page

txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Mar 06 2016 :  5:55:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
thanks charlene. my inexperience is really showing through here. hopefully tomorrow will be an A cup day! ;>

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
Go to Top of Page
Page: of 4 Topic  
Next Page
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To: