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 Once A Day Milking
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Posted - Nov 22 2014 :  7:59:48 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I might have missed it, but I didn't see any specific information about the Once A Day milking in the book. (Thanks, btw, for the very detailed step-by-step milking & post-milk cleaning procedures!).

Do you separate calf and cow for any part of the day or night? Do you just pick a time at random? Does the calf go with you into the milking parlour? Does he nurse to promote letdown before you start?


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Posted - Nov 23 2014 :  07:03:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Yukoner! I must say, it's a lot easier to turn a "thing" like a milk bucket or a machine into a formula. As you can tell from reading through everyone's daily cow concerns, living, breathing cows aren't so easily formulaic. I do believe that's why we find ourselves in such a predicament with the way cows have been bred up in size, bred for milk production only, given drugs and hormones, and ultimately the reason why calves are taken from their mommas as soon as they are born. As consumers push for cheap food, dairy farmers scramble to compete and that's when trouble begins to brew. It's hard to charge enough to pay for all the variables a cow offers--mood changes, fears, etc.

That said, I can tell you what I do and have done with my cows regarding nursing/weaning, etc., but you'll soon have or presently have your own cow complete with its own unique personality and more important, your personality will be factored in. It's a wonderful journey, very similar to raising children, and we all know how unpredictable and non-formulaic that is! Genetics play a role, environment plays a role.

I’ve milked and bred several times a total of seven different cows to date. I’ve always left their calves on them for anywhere from four to six months without any problems. Once I weaned their calves, I continued milking them, but never more than once per day. Once I wean a calf, I get more milk. Usually I leave my calves on my girls full-time for the first two months. During that time, she’s producing enough milk for both of us because the calf isn’t taking as much as it’ll be taking later on. But that means the amount of milk I get is unpredictable. With a big cow like Maizy, I still get as much as four gallons/milking even though her calf is on her full-time. As the calves grow, I begin separating them for as long as 12 hours/day, not only to ensure that I’ll get milk but also so the calf starts to get its own hay without having to compete for it against bigger cows, even her momma for that matter. A calf will lose every time. When that happens, they’ll have to rely on milk only. By the time my calves are two months old, I want to make sure they’re getting their own portion of hay to eat without competition. Right now, I’m training my youngest (four months old) to run to another little enclosure right after I’ve fed everyone where she knows her private meal of hay is waiting. I’ve done this kind of training before. It’s pretty darn cute how quickly they catch on. The calf has water also and that’s a good time to keep them locked up for a while, in sight of momma, but not WITH her or ON her. I should qualify this by saying that sometimes I decide I don’t need the milk from a particular cow. Once I’m confident the calf is milking all four quarters evenly (about two to three months of age dependent upon the size of cow), I let the calf take all the milk until I wean the calf and start to milk the cow again. Right now, I have a five-month-old bull on his mother full-time. I’ll wean him next month and begin again to milk her.

For a long time, I milked every day at eleven. The last few months, I’ve milked at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. When you change the time you milk, you can nudge it one way or the other an hour per day until you get it where you want it to be.

No, I’ve never brought a calf into the milking parlor and haven’t had but the occasional problem with let-down. I’m not sure how that would work. I’ll have to think about it.

I did have an experience once with a “non-pregnant” cow I purchased who surprised us with a calf on a cold wintery day. She’d never been milked and I was in the process of training/taming her. She wasn’t too excited about her calf and her mothering instincts didn’t kick in (I think she was as surprised as we were.) Anyway, we all managed but as a result, when my next calf was born (to another cow), I decided not to mess around with the colostrum conundrum so I brought her in, milked her colostrum out and gave it to her calf via a throat tube. There. Done. “Now the two of them can get acquainted and I can go back to bed and quit watching and worrying.” I’ve only done it the once but it’s an option. It worked fine. There is a volume amount you give based on the weight of the calf.

Some people prefer taking all the milk a cow gives and then bottle feeding the baby while keeping them separate. I’ve never done that but I’m sure it eliminates some of the pesky details I’ve described above.

I’m sure I haven’t answered all your questions but I’m certainly happy to continue trying:)

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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4666 Posts
Peever SD

Posted - Nov 23 2014 :  07:27:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Welcome to the forum Yukoner. To answer the calf question. I milk in more of a milking area in one of the loafing sheds. I let the calf come and go as it pleases. She is old enough now thst I put down some treat for her as mom gets milked. Have not had any calf problems and the cow seems settled seeing the calf there. I have done this with the last three calves with no issues. The last two cows here were very protective moms so when they couldn't see the cave that was distruptive.

Any a little about your cow? Got any cow pics?

With a moo moo here and a moo moo there, here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo.
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