1st milking experience

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Christina R., Aug 15, 2004.

  1. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Ok, when someone said 10 minutes to hand milk, it was a misprint and they meant 10 hours...right?! I think after about 40 minutes I got about 1-2 quarts...hard to tell since she peed in the 1st bucket I dumped and kicked over the second one. I'm glad I know someone who can come over and help me learn the right finger motion. I can get a good stream by closing the top and then rolling that finger down, but this multiple finger roll thing doesn't seem to come naturally to me.

    I also don't know how to hold the bucket between my legs and milk. I had to set it on the floor and aim. I'm thinking of putting a stand under it (to make it easier for her to kick over :)

    My only bright spot is I keep reassuring myself that every person who ever milked must have had a day like mine and I really will learn how to milk. Thank God at least she is letting me milk her. I hope I learn to be more effective before her milk comes in in the next two days or that poor gal is going to be in pain from my not getting as much as she wants to give. I guess that will be one more benefit of keeping the calf on her while I'm learning my elbow from my knee.

    ANY HINTS WOULD BE MOST APPRECIATED!!!
     
  2. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

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  3. Danny

    Danny Active Member

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    Could not agree with what you said about milking time, at least it seems that long. I'm just beginning milking myself but here is what I learned.
    I built a stanchion in a place where the cow can see around so she seems happier. I heard if they are happy in there they don't have so many bathroom problems, it seems to be true, very little problem after moving it there.
    Also have a feed in front and a bar behind so there is no room for her to move backwards or forward. She may still shuffle her feet some but you have to watch for that and you learn when it coming. I bought cubes which takes her longer to eat because as long as she is eating there is little movement.
    Hope this helps and we both get faster!!
     
  4. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    My Dorsey fidgets!!! She doesn't kick but she shuffles, she sneezes, she moves her back feet almost none stop. When I started milking her I was not aware of her ways and lost a partial bucket or two of milk, but now I do what my Grandfather taught me when I was a little tyke about dealing with less than calm cattle; I milk "this cow" into a one quart sauce pan and pour the milk into the bucket which is set to one side.

    A young cow can be trained to stand; most of the time, but a few will fidget. An 8 year old cow like Dorsey is set in her ways and I just figured that I'd go with the flow and use the suace pan. If she does move or sneeze before I can move the sauce pan I just loose a little milk rather than a whole bucket. In fairness to Dorsey, she was milked with a milking machine until halfway through her last lactation when the fellow who owned her started hand milking his dozen Jerseys.

    The down side is that I can only milk her with one hand at a time, but it still only takes a bit more than 10 minutes to empty out her 2 to 2 1/4 gallons, and it sure beats losing a while milking to a dry dairy feed sneeze.
     
  5. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Okay, milking three and last night I got out about a half a gallon. Today I almost doubles that, but I'm still making mistakes. I should have had the baby by her the whole time. I still don't have the finger roll thing down (someone is coming over on FRIDAY to help), and she did kick, but I think she wouldn't have if her baby was by her. When her baby is by her, she mellows out. I don't think she is letting her milk down, I think I am still inefficintly squirting it which is why I am only getting a lil less than a gallon in 40-50 minutes. Last night's still looked too much like colostrum, today looked like it was changing over to milk (it was a little over 48 hours post birth). Her bag is still swollen, I am by no means milking her loose. The baby is on her all day, but tonight I am separating them and having the baby by me when i milk at 5:30 (that is when the baby usually is out there nursing and I am starting to milk at 6). This is one learning experience after another with me getting it all wrong to begin with. I keep telling myself tp give myself a learning curve and next week it'll be easier. The baby seems to be scouring a little from drinking too much...another reason to separate them at night.
     
  6. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Christina, the calf should pass thick yellowish feces (meconium) for the first day or two. This is normal. (Just thought I'd pass that on, in case it helps.)
     
  7. AR Transplant

    AR Transplant Well-Known Member

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    I am a first time milker as well. Ain't it more fun than a goat roping?

    The first time I milked I got about a pint. The next day the neighbor helped me and we got over a gallon. (calf 48 hours old).

    I milked her three times a day with the calf on her for the first few days, than two times a day, than one.

    It was a month before I seperated the calf, than I found that I had the have the calf by her before she would let down. She is very good at holding her milk back for that calf.

    Last week when I had no choice, I milked without the calf by her and I managed to get less than a quart (the calf had been on her all day) by taking my fist and hitting up on her udder, like the calf does when she wants more.
    Isabella didn't even flinch so I know I didn't hurt her. But I sure wouldn't try that on a sore cow.

    I love my cow, and I love milking, it's one of the best relaxing things that I do.

    good luck and stick with it, it's worth it.

    Arkansas Transplant
     
  8. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the encouragement, AR. Thanks also for the note, Willow, on the yellow pasty stuff being meconium. All is fine.

    Last night I had someone come over and watch me milk, he said it was all good. I got over 2 gallons, but when I was pouring it in the jar I noticed blood. I read this didn't necessarily mean mastitis, that right after claving it could be from broken blood vessels in an over engourged udder. Her udder has been over engorged for over a week and a half. Today it looked more reasonable in size, and when I did a simple squirt into a cup it all looked good. The whole pail looked good today. I got 1 1/2 gallons not counting the 1/2 gallon she kicked over. Today was by far the best experience so far. It's still taking about 45 minutes. I don't see the udder looking empty, but I think I can tell the teat seems to be more flacid and not full of milk after a lot of milking. Until her udder becomes more normal, I have to go by that.

    I'm glad to hear I can milk twice a day until I see her getting some relief, then transfer to my once a day until the baby is sold or weaned. Thanks again for everyone's input. It has helped my very nervous heart.
     
  9. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Don't worry about closing your fingers in the right order -- if you hold out your hand and squeeze it shut, you'll see that your hand naturally closes from the top to the bottom. You have to force it to make it close the other way.

    OK, how can I describe this? Basically, you're pinching the duct in the teat off at the top, using the *base* of your thumb and first finger, then you're squeezing the milk out by pressing the rest of your fingers against the meaty part of your hand (beneath the thumb).

    Obviously, the longer the teat, the better, as you can use more fingers to squeeze with!

    Incidentally, I have carpal tunnel pretty bad, so for me, it's more a matter of pressing my hand against my fingers, rather than vice versa (since I don't have much grip in the fingers). But hey, whatever works! :)

    The thing you want to avoid is making a 'ring' of your thumb and first finger, and sliding it down the teat. That damages the cells lining the teat. :(

    Since your cow is a first-calf heifer, her udder is going to be 'tight' ... with repeated milkings, it will soften up a bit, and your hands will get stronger!

    P.S. AR Transplant, yes, you definitely can stimulate the udder to get a cow to let her milk down! Massaging sometimes works, or striking it with the heel of your hand (like you described). If you watch a calf or kid do this to momma, MAN, they are BRUTAL! Libby-Belle just about lofts poor Dawn into the air (not really, but almost! :no:). Once again I will put in a plug for Uddermint ... which, in the milking parlor, I refer to as "Miracle Mint"! Here's a link: http://www.northstarcooperative.com/NSC/Products/uddermint.htm

    As a last resort, you can administer a shot of Oxytocin, but repeated injections can lead to the cow refusing to let down unless she receives a shot first.
     
  10. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Your cow lets down her milk when her calf sucks. If you want her milk, you will have to become her friend. Talk to your cow, pet her when you feed her. When you wash her teats and udder use warm water and massage it a bit as you dry it off. Scratch her brisket and rub her back.

    When you sit on your milking stool, ram your head into her flank. This helps you get comfortably balanced as you milk, and it reinforces her milking urge. This position leaves you leaning slightly forward and makes it easy to hold a bucket between your knees as you milk with both hands.

    After a bit of this the cow will let her milk down when you start pulling on her teats. A good homesteader type Jersey, newly freshened, should easily produce two and a half gallons of milk twice daily. A big dairy Jersey should do more.

    I never favored the "stinger" type milking stools. If I want something strapped to my behind it is going to be made by Boeing.
    Ox
     
  11. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    When I was growing up, and we hand milked, I was taught to lean my forehead into the flank of the cow as I was milking. Two reasons. One, it gave your back a bit of rest. The main one, though, was that you can feel the muscles tense up before the leg moves, so can block with one arm (up high) and grab the bucket with the other.

    It worked on our cows. Might not work for others.

    Meg :)
     
  12. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    All is going well. It gets easier every day, except my laft hand does get far more tired, far faster. Corabelle is a gem. She fussed a little the first 2 days, but has been so great since then. The only thing she fusses over now is when the goats try to take the hay set out for her.

    The goofiest thing she does is take her long tail and lay it over the back of my neck and drape it down my shoulder like it is my mink stole. She never whacks me with it, just drapes it over and rest it there.

    One other question I have is when I am milking her, do I have to do an upwards bump movement each squirt or just close my fingers and squeeze down. I have been kind of closing my thumb and finger and pushing up at the same time then closing the others, and thought if I 'm pushing up for nothing, why waste the strength.

    Good news, AR transplant said milking her cow is so realxing to her. I remember thinking at the beginning of the week, "I'll never see that day". Well, I think I can see that time coming soon.

    Thanks again, everyone.
     
  13. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just be sure your hand is at the top of the teat against the bag each squeeze. It don't require much poshing up. Do you squeeze with one hand while you are getting a new grip with the other hand? Your muscles in your fore arms get toughened up to the task the longer you do it. In 90 days you'll be able to milk her in less than 10 minutes.
     
  14. bdfarmer

    bdfarmer Member

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    Hello new friends,

    I recently learned of your group and am an eager new member. How appropriate my first post would be to this thread. I too am a 1st time milker, or rather hope to be soon. I have a couple of 5 year old Holstein/Charlaise pet "cows." One has calfed 3 times. The other has not been bred yet. Momma Mabel doesn't enjoy my attempts at milking her. She's extremely adament with swinging her entire body from side to side, including mashing me against the stall rails and non-stop kicking. I rather quickly gave up on the first two lactations.

    I refortified myself with this recent freshening though and built a holding chute with a feed bin at the end. She's just now getting used to entering it under her own steam. I clip her halter to a shortened up lead rope once she's in place. Unfortunately this is not enough restraint as she can still move back and forth quite a bit. I also made the chute too wide (apx 31" total) thus she can move side too side more than I would like. Believe it or not, the side rails were real snug on her originally (she was within days of calfing when the chute was made).

    Last night was the first time her calf was separated from her in his own little stall (between her stall and the chute). He was bawling this morning. "Little Brother" is about 10 weeks old and doing fine. He grazes well and eats a few alfalfa cubes at "feeding" time. It looks like he managed to nurse Mabel's right quarters out this morning through the stall rails. I could not get any milk out of her left quarters, not even one drip, squirt, dibble or glimmer. The tips of her teats never even got slight damp. I found myself foolishly imaging it was if they didn't even have openings in their ends. How embarrassing!

    Moments later when she got together with her calf he immediately managed to nurse from those left quarters that I could'nt get a drop out of!

    I plan on reconstructing the chute about 6 inches narrower and rigging up some sort of rail I can slide in and out behind her. That will reduce her movement, but... will persistance and trying some of the "love making" stuff (warm water wash, stroking, etc) really end up doing the trick?

    Thanks so much, Phyl
     
  15. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've been following this thread and I'm going to recommend that you check out http://www.real-food.com/ and order the book "Keeping a Family Cow" by Joanne Grohman. She is an absolutly fantastic lady that is extreemly knowledgable in small dairy operations, working with not so willing cows, etc. Her book, and her site is a wonderful resource for new cow owners, and also has tips and information for old hands at the game. There is also a forum in there that you can ask any direct questions to other members and usually get an answer very fast.
     
  16. Janene in TX

    Janene in TX Member

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    bdfarmer & Christina R I mailed ya each a PM.....Milking like anything else takes practise. Mostly the muscles & co-ordination of the arms/hands to get built up & 'used' to the task at hand. As you will see the more you do it, the better & more adept & faster you will get.
    Keep the cow happy & keep the other critters away (& out of *HER food*) when you are milking...this is you & your cows' time when you are milking. You will have a much better 'partner' this way. If she is happy, she will make you happy...less fidgeting, moving, kicking, etc.
    Cows are like people...each of us are different & have our 'quirks'. We once had a cow that hated cats & would step on them ANY chance she had. If they got down into the feed bunk while we were milking & she was eating I guarentee 2 things would happen: 1) The cat would get a 'head butt' or similar & 2) we would have attempted spilt milk from whatever action the cow would do to let us know there was a cat too close!! (We had an old wooden stanchion/bunk & at the time I was too short to see any cats creeping around.)
    JMO...Good Luck & hang in there!!
     
  17. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the input. Our internet was down, so I wasn't able to read everything until today. Corabelle is very cooperative about being milked. I'm milking her two rear teats and leaving the front ones for the baby as the baby seems to be on them, when I milk them it's a short time till they run dry , then the baby bangs the heck out of them when I turn Corabelle back into the yard, and finally, I'm working up to the hand stamina to milk for that long. I think her front teats are a little sore from the baby, but I keep putting bag balm on all 4 about a half hour after I milk (when they have air dried from the teat dip).

    I milk until the milk becomes a trickle in one teat and almost non existent in the other. I can sense the "flat teat" description that I've read about in books. Her udder isn't swollen like pre birth, but it isn't this loose hanging bag. I can see folds in the skin after I've milked, but it definitely has substance to it. I guess I was imagining an empty bag type sensation. The front part of the udder always seems a little tighter, but I'm relying on the fact that she is producing what the baby uses and is adjusting the production to that.

    I'm still milking twice a day, but I get less at night. Maybe everything will adjust to a once a day on all 4 teats within the next week.

    One new question, I milk her within 15 minutes of the same time. If I have to milk her 30 - 45 minutes earlier on one or two occasions to allow for a meeting, is it really going to harm her?

    PS Keeping the family cow has been a life saver. The local library has lent it to me about 10 times in the last year. Also Uncle Will, I do squeeze with one hand while I get a grip with the other. I'm glad to here it takes 90 days to milk in 10 minutes, I was thinking people thought it would happen in the first 9 days. I grasp by the top of the teat, but will definitely make sure I feel the top of the bag on the top part of my fingers. Do I try to race through it or do I squirt with a rhythm?
     
  18. bdfarmer

    bdfarmer Member

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    Dear Christina and Friends,

    "If it's not one thing it's another" sure seems to apply to me. I eagerly got up the next morning to try my second round of milking Mabel, but found out I was to attend an all morning long orientation preshool/kindergarten session with my wife and three year old son. With just an hour or so at hand I had to forego milking to the pressing needs of fence repair instead, thus just let the calf get all the glory and cream as usual.

    The next morning dawned more hopeful though. Mabel is in place in the chute with the addition of a restaining board slid in snug behind her, but alas I only have a few handfuls of alfalfa cubes left to keep her occupied while this product of an anemic comtemporary world (me) undertakes the primordial deed of milking. Will it be enough? I've reread Joan Sill Grohman's milking chapter in her Keeping a Family Cow, checked out her website and read all the posts here.

    Bucket of warm soapy water in hand, clean rags in tow, encased cow in "crate" (chute), calf a few feet away, three year old and cat at bay, Mabel munches on her feed and I kneel in the pea-gravel beneath my bovine donor to be. Tentatively I start cleansing the udder and teats with the warm soapy water and half of one of my sons former cloth diapers. It is a pleasant experience as I and Mabel relax into it. The remaining remnant of the daiper becomes drying towel. The moment of truth and teat is at hand, unfortunately the stainless steel bucket is not (darn that three old boy of mine).

    Quickly I rinse the plastic (just this once, I promise) bucket of soap suds and again squat beneath the udder female of my life. Forehead to flank (2 by 4 rail over head), teats in hand, "pinch off" and squeeze...nothing. Again, again nothing. Really, really squeeze. I can do it. Can she take it? Yes she can. She does not sky-rocket through the sheetmetal roof above. Her teats do not burst under the pressure like a balloon. Still no milk though. Mabel eats her alfalfa with undistracted diligence. I sqeeze again with all my might, but the teat deflates. No there's no leak, just back wash up into the udder. Pinch off better this next time and squeeze, squeeze, SQUEEZE...and squirt. Yes, we have done it! Dear Mabel and I and calf have mustered milk. We have recreated the immortal union of man and beast, of man kneeling on the earth at the hooved alter and mother of all farm life, the sacred cow. We have attained the archetype, but must first fill the bucket before we are one with the ranks of dairy folk the world over. So we settle down to our task in hand. Lift, pinch, sqeeze, pull, squirt. Lift, pinch, squeeze, squirt.

    Wait! Don't keep the first bit of milk, let it go onto the ground as it might not be too clean. Okay, with rinsed bucket I assume the position back beneath the mountain of flesh and bones we call Mabel. Again. Lift, pinch, squeeze, pull, squirt. Left, right, left, right. Rest. Again, again, again...rest. We almost have a quart. Yes we can do it, but what's this? Mabel's going ballistic. She's pushing back against the 2 by 4 restraing her rump. The rails at her sides are swelling. The chute is about to burst. Gravel flies from cloven feet in all directions including into the milk bucket. Quickly I rise and nearly succomb to my urge to run before the explosion hits, but no she's scared. She's sacred. She's my dear friend. She's out of food! So I gentle the beast with the steadying force of a farmer's hand on the quivering flesh of an immensely strong, but simple friend. The hands that Mabel has just allowed to be elevated into the ranks of the initiated. I release her from bondage, and her calf (Little Brother) as well, to finish the dance with the impecable innocence of perfect and timeless purity only a mother and child can create.

    Thanks friends. Tomorrow will be another day!
     
  19. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Thanks BD! Reading that made my day. :)
     
  20. Janene in TX

    Janene in TX Member

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    bdfarmer--what a great read!! You are a great story-teller. I look forward to hearing more of your 'excapades"!!