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farmlife

1413 Posts


Posted - Sep 20 2016 :  09:49:41 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So I just reviewed the forum here about let down. It was good to refresh and remember that Alex's comfort and our routine comes first. However, now I'm starting to wonder if I have been a little too sympathetic to her cause. I fully remember what let down feels like at the beginning! I'm hand milking so I can literally feel the changes in Alex's udder as they are happening. Alex is very in tune with her udder and I know I've said before that it seems like she can "shut off the faucets." There have been times that I've thought I would get more milk from a particular quadrant and then she seems uncomfortable (let down could be triggering) and then suddenly the milk is gone.

I've tried to be respectful of the fact that she is feeding her calf and so I don't stress if she doesn't give me all of her milk. However, now I'm thinking that she has trained me. When she starts to feel uncomfortable she shifts her feet and I don't press the issue. So I'm thinking now that every time she doesn't want to let down and shuts off the faucets and I stop milking then she learns that she doesn't need to let down. It is no problem at all right now for her physically because she still has Xander to clean her out, but what happens when he is weaned? I don't want to get her used to not letting down, but also don't want to hurt her or damage her teats either. I'm thinking I will continue to "milk" her even if there is no milk by going around to each teat after she says she is done and see if I can't stimulate her to let down even if she finds it unpleasant. It's a fine line though.

Today I will try to spend some time with her outside milking time just to make extra sure she is comfortable and pampered. I don't feel like it is a trust issue, though. I do feel like we've bonded. I'm also not super upset about getting milk or not getting milk, but I don't want it to be a problem for her in the long run. I look forward to milking time and don't want her not to look forward to it as well.

maryjane

6694 Posts


Posted - Sep 20 2016 :  10:20:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Keeley, did you read my Monday post from this morning?

Here 'tis again:

Keeley, I've been ruminating on your posts:)

"I would love to send Alex out to pasture during the day so she doesn't think about him so much and just bring her in around 1 to milk. To me this is clearly and issue of Alex being stuck in her own head and being a first time mom. I also kind of wonder what she would do with a milk machine. My husband thinks he fixed my quik milker. I'm not so sure it really is fixed, but I might give it a try and see if I can promote let down."

If it were me and I was in a complete crunch for time, I'd wait until Ellie has her calf and then start over with Alex. With a second calf, they'd have each other. Also, they'd be contained away from other mothers and Xander wouldn't be nursing on anyone else. Recently, I've started letting Maggie in with my herd that has two freshened cows. If I don't manage her meals and make sure she gets three squares (plus Chaffhaye) a day by separating her, she manages to find a teat, but that's only happened a couple of times after I left her with everyone else and no food for too long, like five hours. I give her a break during the night from her halter but pretty much right now it's on her full time so I can easily separate her (I think it's good for her to get some amount of time with the herd).

And yes, I've seen Lacy Lou demonstrate in no uncertain terms that let-down was a feeling that was unpleasant for her (if you recall, it can be a weird rush/strange sensation and right after birth it hurts like hell because your uterus contracts--not conducive to training, especially in LL's case with stitches in it). I'd had Lacy Lou and Ian separated for several hours a couple of weeks ago. I gave her some Chaffhaye and brought him in. He tried to latch on several times but she kept shifting. Once she kicked dirt up onto her udder (and him). He butted her several times and tickled her teats with his tongue but I could still see the milk up in the top of her udder. When it did release, she laid down on the ground very quickly. The poor dear actually buried her nose into the ground, closed her eyes, and sighed. Then she promptly got back up (wanting to do the right thing and clearly thinking about it) and walked over to the water bucket and did her self-hypnosis thing by perching her nose on the edge of it, sighing deeply (big loud almost snotty exhales) while closing her eyes as tight as she could get them. In that position, he started to nurse, she let down, and then she stood like a statue with her nose firmly planted for another 20 minutes while he drank from all four quarters.

We all know and have been told, let-down is in the noggin. I lived on a remote ranch with a woman who had a home birth but had let-down issues. Her newborn baby would suck and suck. Pretty soon the poor thing started to look like a starving baby magpie that never quit crying. She made the long 4-hour trip on dirt roads to a session with LaLeche League and came home with a formula pack that she strapped to her back and a tube that came over her shoulder and attached right next to her nipple. After only two weeks of that (and a baby that finally quit crying), she started to let-down on her own. But what an ordeal getting her to feel comfortable with that tingle-y rush that happens especially when things have started to go south and the baby is causing stress. It's conditioning all right but not what is needed and it just begets itself. Oxytocin is also what needs to happen for orgasm and many women just never get used to letting their bodies do that. Women in repressed situations much less so.

We know cows LOVE routine. The trick with let-down is to get a few days in which they do it successfully. It can be a big hurdle, depending on the cow. Based on what I've learned with clicker training, if they learn instead not to let-down, then that's what they'll do. More on that later.

I haven't been keeping cows long enough to say this with certainty, but based on my experience with Maizy, Chocolate, Sally, etc. they didn't decrease with each lactation. If anything, their milk output got better slightly. That probably was more a function of everyone getting used to the birthing/milking/let-down routine.

Hoping for a heifer has been bitter sweet for me. Every time I've been sad about another bull, it's turned into a good thing for me. I'm quite smitten with Ian and his potential as a bull and the fact that his birth is going to allow me a solution for an aging Samson who at age five either needs to become a long-term herd bull for someone or go into the freezer while he still can. And Charlie who lacks good manners at times.

I best get to work. My grandgirls stopped by a bit ago and now I have lots to attend to. But let's continue to talk about it. I'll get a new thread going. Your questions and observations are awesome.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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maryjane

6694 Posts


Posted - Sep 20 2016 :  10:33:24 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I should add that one of the reasons I'm so keen on getting Lacy Lou to let-down is because with Lacy Lou, she started to show slight gelling during her daily CMT from quarters that weren't getting "cleaned out" as you say because her calf was still so young. I'm not about to let a cow get mastitis if I can help it. Plus, my work and effort and worry to get her to this point goes back three years. Call me stubborn, but I don't want to let let-down have the final say. There just has to be a way that will work in most situations.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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farmlife

1413 Posts


Posted - Sep 20 2016 :  12:34:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I hear you on the let down and I did read your post. Thank you, MaryJane. Xander is still a bull because I have this farfetched thought of him being able to breed Elli and Elli's potential heifer. Reality will probably cause us to head a different direction, but nothing is happening until Elli calves. The other possibility is that we would steer him and eat him in a few years.

I don't know that I'd say I'm in a complete crunch for time, although I will have less time when Elli calves. Right now I teach in the morning and have at least 3 hours to devote to cow stuff in the afternoon if need be. I really do feel like my time with the cows is my time to relax and breathe. So I'm not rushing through milking and I'm trying to make sure my attitude is good so that Alex's attitude is also good. If Jeremy is home he also comes out for milking and talks to Alex and gives her positive attention while she's in the stanchion. She very much views it as her time for a treat. I'm confused as to what you mean by starting over, MaryJane. Do you think I should leave them together nonstop and not milk for a while?

Today I went out and brushed Alex for a while and I know that it is not a trust issue between her and me. I think it is just a matter of letting go. She had very little milk, so I gave her a bath instead of milking. I'll go out in a little while and see where she's at in terms of how much milk she has. One thing that I know she doesn't like is getting sprayed with the fly spray, so after her bath today I put it on a washcloth and wiped it all over her. I do usually spray her before milking, so that could be a problem.

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farmlife

1413 Posts


Posted - Sep 20 2016 :  7:12:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I kept Alex and Xander separated for the rest of the afternoon and just put them together for nursing tonight, but this time I stayed and observed how he nurses. He went right to nursing and worked his way around to all 4 teats pretty quickly and then he started butting her for more milk. She did exactly as she does with me at milking. She shifted back and forth on her back feet and seemed uncomfortable. She held her tail out away from her hind end some and she stopped eating until he was almost done nursing. He continued to butt her to encourage let down and kept at it as he continued nursing.

That tells me that she is having a hard time with let down, not because of the routine or because she's holding back during milking to save milk for him. It's the tingly sensation of let down that is a problem. I'm going to have to keep going even if she seems uncomfortable to get her past the point of let down and see if that works.
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maryjane

6694 Posts


Posted - Sep 21 2016 :  3:34:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
How did it go today, Keeley?

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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farmlife

1413 Posts


Posted - Sep 21 2016 :  7:53:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Not awesome. She didn't give me much milk and I just kept going to see if I could get her to let down more. I got a little bit, but not much more. A few times I thought she might be starting to let down and then nothing happened. We seemed to be doing better when she and Xander were together more, so I let him out to see what he could do. He didn't seem to do too much better, but he's more determined. I think I'll keep them together and just take what she'll give me if necessary. She may just need to be with the calf this first lactation to get the hang of things. The only thing I think might work better is a machine. I may have to try the Ultimate EZ yet, but I may pull out the quik milker tomorrow and see if I can get it to suction on. It was kind of a farm fail day since we also lost a chick to a hawk, too. So much for all of our roosters doing their jobs.
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txbikergirl

3191 Posts


Posted - Sep 22 2016 :  5:21:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
sorry about your chick keeley. sometimes the little things just hit hard. sending good wishes for happy milking!

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")
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