Milk cow kicking this year...

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Patt, May 2, 2006.

  1. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    A little background, Bridgit was a Dexter field cow when we got her at auction 3 1/2 years ago. She had a calf and was bred back although we didn't know it at the time. We worked with settling her down but didn't milk with that calf. When she had the next one we started milking. It was a bit of a rough start but eventually she settled down and was fine. She just had her newest calf last week and it's been almost a year since she was dried off from the last. (took awhile for our new young bull to get his stuff together)
    So we penned the calf the first night and milked some colostrum, Bridgit wasn't happy but she was tolerant. Unfortunately over this week every other day she kicks so bad we have to give up. We have one person with a heavy stick to thump her ankle before she can get in a full kick but it's still nerve wracking. :) Any ideas? We're not doing anything different from last year that I can think of, same stanchion, same calf procedure.
     
  2. linn

    linn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I milk a Jersey/Red Angus cross. We trained her to milk last year. She became very gentle as long as she was in the stanchion. But, after freshening this year she too would kick. I tied her near hind leg back to a post behind her. This greatly limited her aim. After three or four days of this she settled down and is now just as gentle as last year. I think these field cows forget their manners if they haven't been milked for a while. If you have a stanchion this will prevent your cow from moving her front end. Tying her leg back will keep her from kicking you. She will soon decide it is easier to cooperate. Just a thought, if she hasn't been milked for a while and just freshened her udder is probably sore and she might have a touch of mastitis. Good luck.
     

  3. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Linn, we'll try tying her leg. She usually settles down when she knows resistence is futile, so we figured having the stick there would stop the kicking but she waited till my husband put it down the day before yesterday and then caught him a good thump in the chest. Knocked the wind out of him but he managed to save the milk in the bucket. :) Yesterday she was fine and then this morning it was kicking again. Her udder feels fine, I can't see any sign of mastitis but she may be sore.
     
  4. linn

    linn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've found with my cow, if I hit her or kick her she kicks back and kicking, hitting or yelling at her just makes her more nervous. I think restraining them and talking to them helps most. Just be sure to make the rope taut enough so she can put her weight on that foot but not move it forward. I know it is hard for me to hold my temper when she acts up, but she responds to a calm attitude on my part better than anger. I still think your cow has just forgotten what she learned and will settle down soon. Best luck. By the way, (I hope it's ok to put in a plug for another forum), try Keeping A Family Cow forum for great advise on dairy cows and milking.
     
  5. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    We actually don't hit, kick or yell at her, sorry if I implied that. :) We used a thick stick held at ankle height so that when she raised a hoof hoof to kick we could thump it back down. It worked the first few days she would attempt to kick but couldn't get her leg up enough. For some reason she seems to be a lot more nervous of this calf than she was of the last 2, don't know why.
    I'll check that forum, thanks for the info!
     
  6. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    Her udder is sore. Imagine someone pulling on your teats :) one week after you had a baby.
    She should settle down as her teats toughen up.
     
  7. JElfering

    JElfering Dairy Dreamer

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    We use an anti-kick device. I bought it at Fleet Farm. It really does the trick. Usually after the first one or two milkings she's fine. Our new heifers take longer but after they get use to milking they are a dream to hand-milk. I agree, they are tender after calving. Don't give up. Be careful with the tie back. My DH did that and she almost fell. As long as he held the rope to ease up on it if she tipped, we were okay. The children and I prefer the device. It is not harmful or painful to the cow. A farmer showed us how to use it when one of our first time heifers had edema so bad that it was almost impossible to touch her. I think we paid about $55.00.
     
  8. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    There is a member on this board, Chalk Creek, that has lots of experience with dexters. I know she's busy, but maybe if you pm her, she might be able to get you on the right track with a tip or two. Good luck!!
     
  9. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Well we tried tying her leg. She's now so ticked off at us we got no milk at all. I would NOT advise trying that. Now we're a day behind, we have no milk and she will be even more antsy tomorrow.
    Oh and it's not a sore udder, we've milked her clean and she's stood there fine. I know the symptoms of soreness and she doesn't have them. She doesn't want to do the milk cow thing this time.
     
  10. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If there are two of you there all the time, try doing this: Have one person milking, and the other standing at the back of the cow with her tail raised up. You hold the tail about 8" from the base of the tail, not further out (no way to break it at the thick base, whereas a tail will break easily out near the end. Don't do that!) If she tries to kick, press forward on her tail some, as if you were going to bend her tail back along her backbone (but nowhere near that hard!). Essentially, you raise the tail up as high as you can without hurting her, then if she wants to kick, you give her a reminder that she has other things to think about right now other than kicking. You don't need to press very hard to get her attention, and you ease off immediately when you see her back off on the kick. What you are doing is training her that if she tries to kick, there's an immediate "bad thing" that happens, but that it goes away instantly if she behaves and pretty soon she doesn't try to kick anymore.

    That's the way we always trained heifers to milk when there were two of us around and before the anti-kickers. I use those now, but the tail trick will work fine if there are two of you.

    Good luck with her.

    Jennifer
     
  11. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Jennifer. We've done that with the cows when we're loading them on the trailer to get them to move forward only we curl the tail into a loop. I hadn't thought of that. Right now we're a bit nervous being anywhere near her back end. :) She's more nervous of my husband than me so that may work he would be completely out of her sight but still able to help.
    I'm wondering if it would help to have the calf tied in our other shed completely out of her sight. Like I mentioned before she's definately more nervous of this one for some reason. We've done exactly the same thing with this calf as we did the last one, we tie it in front of her nose so she can see her. She doesn't even really eat her feed though that well she just tries to get to the calf. I don't know if it will make it better or worse to have the calf out of sight.
    I'm really just concerned that after 2 days in a row she's learning she can get out of milking if she acts up. I don't want to lose another battle tomorrow.
     
  12. linn

    linn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm sorry to hear that you had bad luck with your cow not letting down. She will probably sulk and hold her milk for a while no matter what restraint you use. Your cow can fall over on you with the anti-kick devise also. We have even put a rope around the cows middle (right in front of the udder) and tightened it to prevent the cow from kicking. They can fall over with this method also. Our cows always hold their milk for the calf for about a week after calving. Have you tried separating the calf and letting it nurse on one side while you milk on the other? She and the calf will bellow their heads off for a while, but if you can stand the noise they will get tired after several days. If you think tying her leg back made her mad wait until you try to hold that tail up. Ultimately it boils down to a process of elimination of what will work for this cow. Best of Luck.
     
  13. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice Linn. :) We seperate the calf at night into the shed with the stanchion. In the morning we tie the calf in front of the shed and run Bridgit into the stanchion. The calf is right next to her nose. We let it off the rope a couple of days ago and let it nurse one side but she kicked us if we tried to milk the other. Hopefully as the calf gets older she will be less anxious. I just can't for the life of me figure out why she feels differently about this calf from the last one.
    She went bats when we put the rope on her leg, I really thought she was going to fall over and break her neck! Obstinate animal!
     
  14. linn

    linn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Isn't it frustrating trying to figure out how a cow thinks? I have a little first-calf Dexter. I have worked with her since we got her in Dec. Her two month old calf died a week ago so now I am trying to dry her off. I am just milking her every other day. She has decided she doesn't want to come to the barn. It is a real effort to bring her in from the pasture sometimes. I usually resort to bringing in all six of our cows in that pasture so she will come along with the herd. DH put a halter on her and I am training her to stand tied. She really had a fit the first couple of times. She will let me milk without kicking, but she moves around and doesn't like me to squat down beside her. I have to stand and bend over to milk her. Dexters are really different personalities. My other milk cow is a cross bred and gentled down again a week after calving. As I said earlier, she forgot every thing she learned for a few days. I think it is new mother hormones. I hope you figure out something for your cow. How did you gentle her to milk the first time? Maybe she needs a refresher course. LOL
     
  15. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Well you know I'll tell you I'm of Irish extraction and my husband is of Scots Highland. So when we bought cows we got Dexters and Highlands. And I have to say that they reflect the personalities of their homelands. :) The Highlands are stubborn and slow to try something new. But they are thinkers. If you can convince them something is to their benefit they'll go right along with you. The Dexters on the other hand will cut off their noses to spite their faces. And for no discernable reason. With the Highlands if they're balky I can usually figure out what's wrong. With the Dexters there's no telling. Bridgit can be happy as pie one day and try to kill you the next. We do have a resident fairy though who likes to knock down our corn in the summer (nothing else just a nice crop circle in the corn). Maybe he's been pulling her tail in the morning or making faces at her. :)
    Seriously though, I just spent a lot of time with Bridgit the first 6 months. We tricked her into a halter and tied her up until she let us pet her and feed her. She actually gentled down pretty quick. We stuck her in the stanchion and started milking after she had her new calf and she wasn't excited about it but she settled down pretty quickly. She never really kicked, I would put my foot in front of her hoof to keep her from knocking over the milk bucket but that's all it took. Usually if she knows she can't win she gives up and acts right. If one person goes to round her up from the pasture she'll run back and forth all night. If three people go down she'll walk to the corral just as nice as you please. What worries me the most is if she gets it in her head milking isn't inevitable she'll fight us forever.
     
  16. linn

    linn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Keep us posted on the milking progress.
     
  17. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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  18. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    We got milk today! YAY! :dance:
    We built our own anti-kicking device. We put in a landscaping timber (rounded 4x4) at knee height so that it stretched out her back legs just enough so she can't kick. I'll post a picture later. She settled right down and let us milk. The calf has stopped fighting the rope so much too which helped I'm sure. We also prayed a lot! :)
    Thanks for all the advice and encouragement! That milking website is great, that's how we do our milking too. Good info for a beginner.
     
  19. linn

    linn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Patt,
    How is the milking going? Has your girl settled down?
     
  20. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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