Commercial Dairy to Handmilking?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by ericakc, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. ericakc

    ericakc Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    58
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2006
    Well, I haven't found anyone within half a day's drive of me that has a handmilked Brown Swiss for sale, Rats. Through the county extension, I got the names of some commercial dairies in this region (west central Missouri) that have Swiss. One of them said they may have a couple of Swiss to get rid of (no known breeding problems and fairly gentle) to make room for a few heifers.

    What are your thoughts on going this route? What kind of setup do you think I will need to hold her still at first? (squeeze chute, head gate, halter and post, etc.) I know it depends on the animal. Let's say this is one that won't let you just walk up to her, but isn't particularly scared of you either.

    I've read some of you have brought your cow home from a dairy. Tell me how your first couple of weeks went.

    Thanks for the help.
    Erica.
     
  2. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,246
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
    Location:
    Missouri
    All of our first Jerseys(and one Brown Swiss) came from Commercial dairies. We have been raising our own heifers for years now, but those first cows......it went very well actually.
    We set it up to where they came in the barn door and walked straight to a corner with a feed trough. The first few times, it took a couple people herding and one walking in front shaking a feed bucket and letting the cow have an occaisonal taste to get her through the door. Then the person with the bucket would pour the grain into the feed trough, making sure the cow was looking. There was a rope or chain attached to the wall by their head and after they started eating, we would ease up to their heads(some cows resent you being near their heads, take it *very* slow.)and loop it around their necks, loosely enough that it didn't freak them out or cause discomfort, but tightly enough that she couldn't take more than a step in any direction. Then we milked them. :shrug: A few would kick, but we taught them better over time. I sit as close as possible to the cow(usually pressed right up against her side if that doesn't bother her) so that if she does try to kick, she hits me right as she swings her leg with very little impact. If you are far back from the cow, trying to avoid a possible kick, then she will hit you at the full extent of her swing and you will get the full impact of all her weight......its much better to abort her kick before she can get into the *swing* of things.... :rolleyes: Anyway, thats how we broke our Commercial dairy cows to handmilk. Good luck! :)
     

  3. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,246
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
    Location:
    Missouri
    Oh, one more thing. I highly reccomend having some sort of surface against which you can milk the cow at least until she is accustomed to it. That is why I said we trained our Jerseys to milk in a corner. With a wall in front and to one side of them, they are much less likely to "sidle" away as you milk them.
     
  4. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,205
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Florida
    My Jersey came form a commercial dairy (very loud parlor with all those pumps and the compressor going- very assembly line type dairy). She was two yrs. and was in milk. I brought her home and started hand milking with only a bucket of feed in front of her and a small bench for me to sit on. She never "uddered" a word about the change :)
     
  5. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

    Messages:
    3,841
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2005
    Location:
    KS
    Think of them as pretrained. For your safety & convenience, buy a good cow collar neck strap with a large metal D-Ring. Put on cow and leave it on. Then have a 16-20" chain with a heavy cow snap where her head will be while milking. When she enters stall for her grain, snap her in using D-Ring on collar. She will readily adjust to routine once she associates it with grain feeding. Simply unsnap & release when done. Ozark Jewel has done an excellent job explaining!!!!!
    1 other reminder- when selecting cow make sure it's teats are long enough for hand milking :)

    Tango- Aye but your'e a clever one Lass,LOL.
     
  6. dezeeuwgoats

    dezeeuwgoats Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,370
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Location:
    Arizona
    That teat thing is IMPORTANT! I watched my friends farm - she had a miniature jersey cow - her teats were like upside down light bulbs! Little ones. Anyway, on the down-squeeze you could pinch off up top like normal, but didn't have enough fingers to grab the whole 'bulb'. And I have big hands for a woman - can reach nine keys on a piano from thumb to pinkie.

    Niki
     
  7. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,484
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Location:
    Florida
    We've had several Jerseys over the years that came from a dairy. It all depends on the cow. Some act like nothing has ever changed, they stand still, and give you no problems at all. Others take a little paitience and persistance, but all eventually made good, quiet milk cows. I also agree with others on the teats. There is NOTHING more aggravating than trying to milk a cow with small teats.
     
  8. JulieLou42

    JulieLou42 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    501
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    North Central Idaho, Zone 5
    Use COB or ThreeWay grains with molasses and she'll just about do anything!

    I have a strong, wooden stanchion built into an outside corner of my two-car garage, on concrete floor with two 3x3'heavy, rubber mats under her. There's a small feeder box built in it that holds her grain at the right height for her to get at it. She goes in there for that grain and I slide the pivoting vertical board over against her neck [her right side]and run the long lag bolt through it. That's all there is to it. The stanchion only has left side rails and end to it, so that the right side is open. Last year, she started sidling away from the stanchion, towards me, so I put another 2x4 board/rail at the same height as the top one on the left. [I just have to watch that I don't bump my head into that new rail when she gets to moving around, as she often does.]

    The only thing she kicks at is the flies, so I'm no help with handling that.

    All the side rails come off, as they slide through those large, metal [gate] handles available at hardware stores; the ends of them are shaved off so that they'll fit through; thiis makes it collapsible and out of the way when not in use.

    I've had her since she was 10 months old, and haltered her and trained her on a lead rope. She was very easy. I used to curry comb her a lot, the first couple of years. [See new pix on a thread that I started.]

    Some trouble is that she's grown some inches since 2003 when I began milking her, and the stanchion's now a bit short in length for her, but we make do.

    When the weather is inclement or the dogs barking too much--we have wolves, bears, deer, elk and moose, that I know of, local to us-- I just close the garage door on us, and she settles right down.
     
  9. ericakc

    ericakc Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    58
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2006
    Good. Sounds like this route could go ok. I wasn't looking forward to a rodeo. :)
    Erica.
     
  10. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

    Messages:
    3,841
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2005
    Location:
    KS
    From personal experience, would recommend a stall size 6 feet long platform X 4 feet wide where she stands. 4 1/2 foot wide would not be excessive if she is a large Swiss. The feed manger area will need to extend another 3 to 5 feet out from front of platform to provide space for her neck & head, and you to move about when putting feed in front of her.
    The rubber floor mat JL suggests is excellent- would prevent scrapes or injuries to hocks, teats, etc and help cow live longer.
    If your stall is to be put in a building with water, a water bowl or fountain where she can access it while standing for milking would be a wise idea, although you can water her with a bucket for 1 cow.
    Once she is trained to use stall, you can restrain her there for vet work, AI breeding, grooming, or whatever comes up. Electric lights is almost a must, for milking & such on grey winter evenings, etc.
    Gonna stick her in Grampa's hog barn,LOL? :)