milking question

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Christina R., Jun 7, 2004.

  1. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    As my heifer gets ready to calve in August, I'm sure I'll keep coming up with all sorts of questions. I know the calf needs the colostrum from the mom for the first day or so, but how soon after she calves should I start milking her. I've read it is all colostrum for the first 3 days which can be discarded or frozen. Do I milk her when she only has colosrum or do I start milking her after her milk "comes in". I think I'm planning on taking the claf away from her and bottle feeding the calf. I'd also appreciate feedback on this too. Thx.
     
  2. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    The big thing with bottle feeding the calf is you must milk twice a day no matter what and you must bottle feed several times a day no matter what. We keep our goats and calves with their moms except at night that way if something comes up or we should need to be away then the babies do the milking for us. :) We get plenty of milk that way and haven't had any trouble with them "saving back milk". We handle the babies from day one and they know we're the ones who let them in to feed plus we smell like milk so they associate us with their food. Mom takes care of them so we don't have to. :)
    We start milking a week after the babies are born. I have read it's good to freeze some colostrom just in case though.
    Patt
     

  3. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    That sounds like a plan. When it comes time to wean the calf (my intentions are to sell it when it is about 3 -4 months old) did you find the separation issues on behalf of the mom to be overwhelming? I've read it could be a nightmare when they get separated. Also, did you milk the cow first in the morning and then let the calf get in with her or did you milk her and let the calf have some of her at the same time?
     
  4. AR Transplant

    AR Transplant Well-Known Member

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    My jersey freshened 16 days ago, and I am a city girl. So, with 16 days of experience behind my belt I will be happy to share my experience.<<for what it's worth>> :haha:

    We milked Isabella out the day after she calved. This was because she was huge and obviously in need of milking. The first day I milked a pint, that was not even close to being enough. The second day I milked a gallon in the morning and a gallon that evening. We froze all the first milk in case we ever had a calf that lost it's mother or for some reason could not get the first milk.
    I saw a real difference between the first milk (colustrm?) and the milk that you'd drink. It was a sandy dark color. The real milk is white like you'd expect.
    The book I have (Keeping a family Cow) says to wait two weeks to comsume milk from a freshened calf, so, we have been drinking it for two days now. We haven't dropped dead yet. :)

    Last week I had the problem of Isabella not giving any milk hardly at all, even though I could feel that her bag was tight. I discovered (through Homesteading Today) that she was holding back the milk for her calf. So, I seperate her in the morning and milk her at about four in the afternoon. I am now getting over a gallon of milk a day.

    I feed her 2 coffee cans of grain (14% protein) and 1 coffee can of alfalfa in the morning and at afternoon when I milk her.

    This is working really well for us.

    The only real problem I have is the fact that her back teats are pretty short. I can only use two fingers to milk and my hands cramp something awful. Therefore, it takes a good 45 minutes to milk. That does not include the time it takes for me to clean up.

    I milk into a plastic 10 quart bucket that I have a wet never before used cloth diaper over the top held down by a really big rubber band (it's a new hair band for the head). I wash her really well with warm water that has 1/4 cup vinegar and a small squirt of dawn. Her bag is always slightly dirty and I take my time in cleaning it, this also helps her let down the milk.

    Since I have seperated the calf, when I am milking I let the calf out and around Isabella while I milk, yesterday the milk was streaming out. However, it was strange to be milking and feel the hot little breath of 'sugar' on one side while I milked on the other. She lost interest pretty fast and patiently waited until I was finished and back in the pasture.

    Hope my experience helps, I know I would hurtin for certain without 'Homesteading Today'

    Arkansas Transplant
     
  5. wyomama

    wyomama Member

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    Hi Christina,

    I highly recommend the book "Keeping A Family Cow" by Joann Grohman. You can order it at www.keepingafamilycow.com. It's a "must have" for the family milk cow owner!

    That said, you should start milking your cow right away. If she calves in the morning, milk her that night. A dairy cow produces way more milk than a calf can drink for their first 6 - 8 weeks of life, and milk left in the udder is an invitation to mastitis. Plus, lactation is a "supply and demand" physiological process. If the milk isn't removed, she won't make as much, and 8 months down the road, you may be sorry. You can save some of the colostrum (in ziplock freezer bags - in the coldest part of your deep freeze) in case you have anything sick until she freshens again. Depending on where you are, you will find people that will pay you an exhorbidant price to drink it themselves, or perhaps someone with a beef operation that is feeding bum calves that will be glad to have it.

    The colostrum will turn to milk in about 4 days. You can tell by the taste. Colostrum is rich and salty tasting. It won't hurt you, but it's not milk :)

    As far as the calf goes, the only way to be sure you never have a problem with your cow holding her milk back is to take it away and bottle feed it from the start. But then you have to milk the cow twice a day for as long as she's milking, and you have to feed the calf two or three times a day for 2 or 3 months. There are a lot of ways to share with the calf - it often leads to some problems with the cow holding her milk up, but it sure is nice to know that you could be gone overnight, or you could get sick without killing your cow. Plus the calf will be healthier and grow better.
     
  6. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    We've always let the moms wean off the calves, they usually kick them off at between 5-8 months. I'm currently weaning our 2 baby goats (at 11 weeks) that we raised the same way. They hollered themselves hoarse yesterday (day one) but they seem to be better today. I would think in another 2-3 days they will be fine. If you're going to sell the calf you may want to wean it at selling time, just make sure it's eating plenty of hay, grass and grain before you sell. We raise all of ours for the freezer but our current calf is a Dexter heifer so she'll be raised to milk and we'll keep her.
    Patt
     
  7. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    At the dairy where I work, newly freshened cows are milked "into the bucket" (i.e., discarded) for 6 milkings. The milk is used beginning with the seventh milking.

    The calves where I work are taken away from the mommas shortly after birth, and I don't think they're anywhere near as hardy and active as my calf, who has been raised by her momma!

    She will be 6 weeks old on Saturday, and what an opinionated little girl she is! :rolleyes: :D
     
  8. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    That's how we do it. We put Ita our calf up at around 7-8pm every evening and we milk at 6:30 am every morning. We tie Ita outside the shed so our cow can see her and know she's fine. Works just fine. :)
    Patt