Tips for milking a cow (Pictures to follow soon)

1. Bonding

2. stanchion/tethering

2. stanchion/tethering

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 Take the time to brush, pet, and spend time with your doe eyed cow.  Bovines are a herd animal and by nature, quite social.  No need to rope and ride, just chew the cud with them.   Enjoy a picnic or good book out in the lawn or field near your girl. They will love it and it won't be long before you are a trusted member of the herd.

2. stanchion/tethering

2. stanchion/tethering

2. stanchion/tethering

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No need to rush her into a head lock.  Even a cow that is trained to go into a stanchion for milking will need to get use to the new facility and her new family.  Try giving a few snacks in her new milk parlor. Once she is use to the shadows and sounds, she won't even notice the head gate closing or collar going on.  It may take a few days, but continue making small increments, be patient, and make sure each step is a positive experience.   

3. touching the udder

2. stanchion/tethering

3. touching the udder

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Even on my well trained bovines, I like to use the kick stop bar.  Your experienced milker may have more tolerance for you then the biting fly that just landed on their belly! An unexpected kick can cost you a couple days worth of milk and/or unnecessary injury.  In addition, the extra precaution of safety can make you feel more at ease and therefore the cow as well.

Loosely tying their foot to a back post only to prevent forward motion, will work as well.   

4. Brushing the udder

4. Brushing the udder

3. touching the udder

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 Avoid excess water.   Start by brushing excess dirt and or mud from the udder using a soft brush.   Brushing your cow can also encourage a better let down of milk.    

5. Shaving the Udder

4. Brushing the udder

5. Shaving the Udder

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Shave the whole udder or just the area above and around the teats.  This will allow you to milk without pulling on her hair as well as make cleaning the udder much easier. 

I use a small, battery operated, men's mustache clipper.  Unless you are getting you girl ready for the show, there is no need to shave too bare, just enough to make your job easier and your cow more comfortable.

6. Washing the Teats

4. Brushing the udder

5. Shaving the Udder

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 I like to use sensitive pampers wipes sprayed down with an iodine solution.  Feel free to substitute with a clean moist (not saturated) cleaning cloth and antimicrobial solution that suits your families needs. 

Start at the top of the teat washing the udder area just above and working your way down.  Always work in a downward motion and end with a clean wipe on the teat orifice.  

7. the two squirts

8. Its all about the rhythm

8. Its all about the rhythm

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With clean hands express two or three squirts of milk from the teat before milking into the milk pail.  This is said to greatly reduce the incidence of harmful bacteria from contaminating your milk.

8. Its all about the rhythm

8. Its all about the rhythm

8. Its all about the rhythm

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Gently squeeze the top of the teat with thumb and index finger, so as to prevent milking up into the udder.  Then using your remaining fingers, in a rolling motion express the milk from the teat through the teat orifice into the milk pail.

Release your thumb and index finger grip, allowing the teat to fill up with milk and repeat.  It is not about speed, pressure, or tugging, which can damage the udder and teat tissue,  but rather maintain a slow consistent rhythm.  

9. Milking her out

8. Its all about the rhythm

9. Milking her out

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When you have milked the cow out or in some cases, the cow has finished giving her milk, very gently message the udder to check that is it loose and has no hard or red areas (indicating a possible milk duct blockage).   All four quarters of the udder should be even and loose.  When the udder is sufficiently milked out, strip the teats, using four or five quick motions.  

Keep in mind, you want to empty the udder, but you won't necessarily get every last drop.  The cow will likely always have a little milk left in her udder especially if she is holding back for a calf.  That is OK!  

A little milk in the udder is better then over working the teats and increasing the chance of bacteria entering the teat and/or causing tissue damage. 

This will take some time and practice.  The important thing, is to remember to be gentle, don't force you cow to milk, and keep the udder and teats clean.  Take care of your cow, and she'll take care of you.

10. teat dip

11. Filter Milk

9. Milking her out

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After teat stripping, we spray each orifice with Fight Bac teat spray.  

You may have another antimicrobial spray or dip such as iodine, or vinegar etc, but the Fight Bac teat pray has worked very well for us in preventing bacterial issues such as mastitis.

Other recommendations, are to keep your cow standing at least thirty minutes after milking to allow orifices to fully seal.  Offer incentives such as hay or alfalfa to graze on.

11. Filter Milk

11. Filter Milk

11. Filter Milk

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Run your milk through a milk filter.  We recommend Tuffy filter disks.  This process is especially important if you hand milk.   You can purchase milk funnels that are specially made to fit the top of  wide mouth canning  jars.   A funnel that will hold 4 quarts is nice, but not necessary.  We also recommend half gallon size glass jars.  They are easier to hold, easier to pour from, and are less expensive then gallon size jars.  I do not recommend using plastic. Bacteria has a way of staying in the plastic even after washing with a bleach solution and will quickly sour your milk in the future. So, stick to glass or stainless steel containers.   

Lastly, check the filter for any signs of Mastitis, such as blood, globs, stringy milk, or even a heavy milk film.

12. Super cool

11. Filter Milk

11. Filter Milk

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Its important to cool your milk quickly to preserve quality and freshness. We cool our milk in a small slush bucket in our deep freezer.  The slush bucket consists of super-saturated salt water.  It won't freeze, yet is below freezing.  For us, it only take about 30 minutes to cool our milk to  around 45 degrees Fahrenheit.  Wipe the excess salt water off jar and put into fridge. Wala!

We hope you enjoyed some of our milking tips!

As questions arise we will do our best to clarify and revise as necessary. Check back for more great tips!