ideas milking cow with calf

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Matt NY, Feb 24, 2005.

  1. Matt NY

    Matt NY Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone ever milked a cow that was still nursing its calf?

    What kind of set up did you use?

    I have a mixed breed cow that was a heifer about 10 days ago. I don't have any other cattle and wanted these two together. I am trying to tie them at night and milk in the morning and then let them be together for the day. I know that many here will say don't do this. I would like to hear from folks that had some luck with this.

    The cow isn't a full dairy breed 1/4 holstien, 1/4 jersey, 1/4 belted galloway and 1/4 piedmontese (sp?).

    Also when can I expect her to come on strong with milk? I am thinking around the 2 week mark.
     
  2. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    We keep the calf on the cow as long as possible, sometimes for almost the whole lactation. We lock the calf up at night and either milk while it nurses in the morning or milk before we let the calf out, depending on if the cow will let her milk down without the calf nursing. I wouldn't tie the calf or cow overnight. It doesn't really seem safe. You would only need a small pen to lock the calf up, it shouldn't be too much trouble to fix up. After a few days of going in the pen at night the calf gets used to it and walks right in. It helps when they get big enough to give them a little something to eat when they go in.
    We've never locked the calf up at night quite as early as you are doing, I would be worried that it's too young to go without milk for that long.
     

  3. Matt NY

    Matt NY Well-Known Member

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    I should have mentioned that I got a gallon of milk this morning, so it seems that she let down ok.

    I also thought that a pen would be best; so you have convinced me. I have been concerned that her production would suffer if I didn't get her milked out well.

    Should I just tie her to milk for now to get her used to it and get the calf penned nights in a week or so?
     
  4. jerzeygurl

    jerzeygurl woolgathering

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    we always kept calf in pen milked what we wanted and let calf finish off,(we have jerseys 2-4 galllons aday potential) IF mamma is making plenty, if not i would not do that, do the reverse, and when calf is full,take what is left. The ammount should increase over time according to demand.Calves only need 2 quarts in morning and 2 at nite, if you want to give them more often do 1.5 quarts 3 times a day, any more than that they will scour, and possibly die.We have raised pleny of bottle calves, more is not better, we know people that have killed a calf from feeding to much.BUt i dont know the production level of your cow, so you will have to play by ear. we have to watch closely the calves of the milk cows we dont milk , cause they always get to much, untill she levels off. Cows usually have the most in the begining when they are first fresh, will level off to the demand. But they will usually increase if demands increase. BUt i would do as the previous post said and keep calf in a pen let mamma go free.
     
  5. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    When our gal's calf was still here initially I thought I was going to separate them at night and let the calf on the momma after I milked her in the am. That ended up being in theory only. We weren't really set up to separate them, but I still got about 1 1/2 - 2 gallons a day in 2 milkings. Once the calf went to her new home (at about 3 1/2 months old), I began getting about 3 1/2 -4 gallons a day.

    The younger the calf was, the less of an impact it made on how much milk I got in the am. Toward the end, it was a noticeable difference if I didn't get to milking the mom before the baby had had her breakfast.
     
  6. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    I've always kept the calf on the cow and just milked once a day. I've heard others say you should not do that and I never could figure out why. It's a whole lot easier than milking twice a day and having to bottle feed a calf.
     
  7. Matt NY

    Matt NY Well-Known Member

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    Well,
    I left them together last night and got just about no milk this morning after getting a gallon 2 days straight. I better go build a pen. I'm also thinking of setting up one of the old stanchoins I have laying around.

    My main concern is to not screw her production up. How much do I have to worry about that?
     
  8. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad this thread came up. I just bought a really nice Jersey with a three month old calf. She was also feeding a 600 lb steer calf. I am having problem milking her because her back two teats have deep bite marks. Milk actually comes out of the side of one. What can you do?
     
  9. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    Matt, mess her production up in what way?

    quailkeeper,
    We use bagbalm, milk very gently, and keep the calf off the injured teats till they heal. That's the only prob. we get with letting calves stay on mom so long. Sometimes you get one that just tears the teats to pieces.
     
  10. Lazy J5

    Lazy J5 Member

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    Hi Matt. I milk one of my Dexters this way and it is wonderful. I separate them overnight then milk. in the morning. Quite often, when our business is very busy, I only milk two or three days a week. I did lose some production, but still get a gallon per milking (down to 3/4 gallon near the end of her lactation). The only problem I had was getting the cow to let the milk down. I conquered this by tying the calf to the stanchion with just enough rope so he could get about half way down the cow's belly. The calf was hungry and would butt the cow in the belly, but couldn't get back for enough to get in my way or dirty the milk bucket. The cow would feel him butting and the milk would come in a flood. It worked out really nice when we had to go away for a week, I didn't need a cow sitter and just turned them out together. I simply went back to the normal procedure when I got home. I love it and won't go back to the "traditional" manner of milking again. I have a milk cow AND a life!!
     
  11. jerzeygurl

    jerzeygurl woolgathering

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    THAT is why i dont let the calf on the one im milking. I know ii means i have to get a sitter if i go, but the trouble i have milkin a cow with teat damage is not worth it. I put calf on one cow and milk other on exclusively because of this exact situation. there are bandages for teats they sell i dont know how they work. but hve been close to trying them before. but keep calves of her by all means. you also run risk of mastitis with germs being introduced into wound in teat so keep an eye on it.
     
  12. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Paula!! I think her calf is old enough to wean so I will pull him off. This is not the one who damaged her teats. The very large 600 lb calf that they grafted on her is the one. But hers is sucking off all of the bag cream I'm putting on her. I think the key is to not let the calf suck when it gets past a certain age. You can always try to graft a young bottle calf on her. A dairy down the road has a ten day old holstein bull calf for $50. I may bottle feed him until she is healed enough to take him. We won't drink her milk anyway until I have her tested for TB and Johnes (already a neg Bangs).
     
  13. SilverVista

    SilverVista Well-Known Member

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    You said that one teat was injured to the point that "milk was coming out the side." That will need professional help to make sure that the hole heals over on both the inside and the outside. If the skin heals AROUND the hole, then you have what's called a fistula, and it will leak milk and be a source of trouble for the life of the cow. It will allow milk to squirt between your fingers and make a mess while you're milking, it may leak depending on where it's located and how big it is, and it is also a wide open passage for bacteria to enter the teat canal and the udder.

    We had a Jersey x Angus cow that I milked for 7 years, using the same technique of separating the calf at night. I would let the calf run with the cow for the first 3 or 4 days until I was sure that all the colustrum was out of her system, and then I would begin milking for the house. Those were great days here! When it became necessary for me to go to work, we kept the cow and let her raise her calves, as well as several grafted calves. She died of old age at 17.

    Susan
     
  14. Matt NY

    Matt NY Well-Known Member

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    I have been afraid that it may drop off to much.
     
  15. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    "Production" is the holy grail as far as commercial dairying goes, but for a house cow as long as she has enough milk for your needs and the calf you're good. No attacks, please, this is not an attack on commercial daries. Notice I didn't mention the word GRASS one time :haha: . Most of us homesteaders in the beginning sort of unconsciously fall into the notion that the most possible production is a good thing. Example: "My cow gives such and such gallons a day!!!" "Well MY cow gives eighty pounds a day!!" Unless your'e trying to make a profit on milk or some milk product all that is pointless. And feeding so much to get so much milk wears your poor little cow out. I fell into the same groove in the beginning, to the point where I had to educate myself about rumen acicosis. Then I, and later my new husband started drifting towards a more natural, relaxed way of doing things. Thank goodness he grew up farming in a serious way (no grow, no eat) and could moderate my excesses somewhat.
    Now we leave the calf on momma till we have to take her off (not enouth milk for us - always much later in lactation -or mom's getting her teats tore up) we take what we need and it's all good.
    Having the calf on sort of insures good production in that they keep mom totally milked out soon as they're big enough anway. And don't worry about baby getting too much milk. I've seen Jersey calves getting prob 8 gal/day with no problem. Holsteins can take more if they can get it. The key is that they get used to it gradually. When they grow up with mom I guarantee you they drink all the milk that will fit in their little bellies. As they grow they take more. They either drink till they're tight as a tick or mom's empty. The problem happens when bottle babies get more milk than they're used to. When you take a bottle baby and put it on a nurse cow you have to do it very carefully and slowly. The little boogers will drink them self to death at the first nursing if you give them a chance.
    And about teat damage - it starts slow, first you notice scratches on the teats from the calves teeth/butting. It gets gradually worse from there. Bulls and steers are worse about it. Just keep an eye on it and pull the calf off when mom starts getting more than superficial scratches. Or monitor them while nursing and pull mom out when the butting starts when she's getting empty.
    OK I'm done now - what was the question?
     
  16. Matt NY

    Matt NY Well-Known Member

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    I am just afraid that if I don't milk her out regularly there will only be enough for the calf and none for me woithout stealing from the calf. Not milking regularly only brings production down. From what I understand.
     
  17. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just a crazy thought but what about superglue on the holy teats? A person I know lost the tip of her pinky finger and the doc used superglue on it like 25 years ago...nowadays there is stuff called "dermabond" used instead of stitches.

    With goats we have separated during the day and milked the nanny at night starting at 2 weeks...I leave a little in the hopper because the babies nail her as soon as she is back in their company. Actually I think production is better overall that way...better growth on the kids and just enough for the table from 2-3 nannys. Sometimes that will let down better with babies nursing on the other side but I only allow it a few times...once they learn its grain time cooperation increases dramatically!

    I'm sure cows are not too distant to make the transition. But if you were looking to save the cream off the milk you'd do better to bucket feed the calf the milk after it was skimmed. I even gave our calf whey from simple vinegar cheese and buttermilk from butter. Sometimes it was a mixture.
     
  18. SilverVista

    SilverVista Well-Known Member

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    Matt, there is more danger of having a drop in production by you leaving her to fill up enough to go milk her! Particularly if something happens and you get off schedule. There is a physical response called a "milk let down" that releases hormones and causes the udder to push the milk down out of the aveoli. Repeating that hormone response keeps the milk production going. Even if a calf never empties her completely, the calf does get her to let down many times a day. Repeated demand then triggers increased production. Commercial dairies that are looking for absolute maximum production regardless of inputs, will milk 3 times a day instead of 2. The herd may not give a full 50% more than in 2 milkings, but there is a significant increase over the twice a day routine. On the other hand, back pressure on the aveoli (milk secreting ducts inside the udder) causes milk secretion to slow or cease altogether.

    If you have a cow that produces significantly more than the calf can use during it's half of the 24-hour period, then by all means strip her out to keep the demand up to produce as much as possible. I think what most people are saying here, though, is that you'll find that you and the calf are quite satisfied without demanding every possible ounce. For the house cow, probably the most important thing is to find the balance between her ability and your need, and maintain whatever routine you establish.

    Susan
     
  19. Matt NY

    Matt NY Well-Known Member

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    Well I got a pen built and the calf didn't seem to mind so much. The cow didn't sound too happy but was allright. Milked out about a gallon and a half this morning. Now to get a stanchion set up so we can't dance as much. She is pretty good from what I can tell for a first calf heifer.
     
  20. jerzeygurl

    jerzeygurl woolgathering

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    good to hear, mama will get used to it, stanchion is great idea, we use a head gate with feed pan on far side. works great, the one i milk now doesnt dance at all her. Her mother on the other hand :haha: