more milking questions

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Christina R., Dec 1, 2004.

  1. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Okay, I've been in this since August, and I'm loving it. I'm also knee deep in milk since Corabelle's calf got sold last week. I'm finding I still have a few questions

    1st of all, please describe the stripping of the teat procedure for when I'm done milking. I milk and milk even until there are little squirts coming out, then I kind of pinch the top of the teat closed while I kind of squish out any drops of milk from the actual teat.

    Also some of her quarters seem to hold more milk thatn others. To look at her, she doesn't look lopsided, but there is definitely one quarter that is a gusher and one that gives a quantity of milk, but no where near the volume of the gusher. I check regularly for mastitis (the Californis test), and she's never showing signs of it.

    Thirdly, bag balm. It's cold here. I use a teat dip solution, spray fight bac, let air dry and go back out about a half an hour later to put bag balm on the teats. She is not happy when I do that. I'm sure she'd be more amiable about the bag balm while I'm still fussing with her at milk time. To do that I would have to towel dry the teat (I use bounty paper towels when I'm cleaning her for the extra cleanliness factor)... is it okay to towel dry or should I only let the teat air dry before I put on the balm?

    Lastly, I have a question about testing milk. How or where do I get my milk tested for things like somatic cell counts, listeria, and e coli? Are the somatic cell counts the same for a period of time and increase only when there is a problem? I have one cow that I cleanse meticulously, filter her milk, chill it immediately, etc., but wanted to know where the milk stood.

    Thanks for always being there educating me and making my hobby successful.
     
  2. pygmywombat

    pygmywombat Well-Known Member

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    1. Stripping. Milk until nothing else comes out and then instead of holding the teat massage each quarter with one hand and milk with the other until all quarters are soft and floppy. That's stripping.

    2. Individual quarter production varies. Generally the 2 back quarters make more milk then the front ones and there is always one quarter that milks the most. Perfectly normal. Gushing is the milk let down. It generally just comes form one teat or maybe two, just means she is happy to see you and give you her milk. Just be sure she's not dripping during the day, since that leaves the teat end open (normally after milking it develops a sort of plug, thats why you start the teats at milking by squirting the first few squirts on the ground or at the cats) and can let in bacteria.

    3. I don't both with dips or sprays anymore and especially in the cold. I just clean the teats before and sometimes after milking with teat wipes and put on Ken Ag Udder Cream on the teats which protects from cold/ frost. There is also a cream called 50 Below does the same thing.

    4. Generally the milk from a single family cow who is healthy and well cared for (and you sound like you are doing a spectacular job with that) has perfectly healthy milk. Somatic cell counts in healthy cows/ udders are low, but will have minor fluxes if the cow is fighting something off but isn't sick from it. the count will be up, of course, when the cow has mastitis, but since its pretty obvious when the milk is all clotty and the udder is hard you wouldn't be drinking that milk anyways. I don't think a milk test place will take a sample from one cow. I asked my vet once and he said to just have a dairy farmer slip in your cow as an extra one when he sends samples in.

    Claire
     

  3. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    So you sold that adorable calf?! Hey, way to go! :D

    I wouldn't worry about somatic cell count in a cow that has never had mastitis. Usually it's only an issue in cows that are somewhat chronic cases. We have ones on the farm that cycle in and out, flaring up once or twice a month. Most respond to treatment quickly and their milk is going back in the tank after 36 hours, but there is still an underlying infection that shows up in the cell count.

    You can get an idea of butterfat content by measuring the milk, letting the cream rise, skimming it off, measuring it, and calculating the percentage of cream vs. milk. :)
     
  4. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have cows that have normally high SCCs. They also have lower cases of mastitis because they are already to fight any infection that tries to sneak in. My line of cows, in particular, always has high SCC but do not get mastitis often.
    SCC varies depending on the cow and their age can play a factor as well. They are bound to fight some infections in their lifetime and every time they fight one they add some resistence to the udder, so their count will be higher as they age.
    it is so sensitive that the SCC can be higher if a cow has simply become excited. her count can go up but their be no chance of infection.
    The lower SCCs scare me. Slicker was bred for low SCC (the Norwegian Reds are bred for lower SCC) and she got mastitis and it just about took her out, whereas if Adelaine were to have a bout she wouldn't notice it. We just about lost Ilse (the other half and half) to mastits her first lactation. She got horribly ill because she didn't have the resistence because of her lower SCC.
    SCC doesn't mean much in my personal opinion...mostly because if you know your cows, you know when they are sick and their SCC isn't going to tell you much quicker than the feel of their udder, the look in their eyes, or color of their milk. ;)

    We still have it tested monthly, along with pounds produced, protein, fat and solids. Makes you keep on milking those cows that are not producing much and ready to dry (even if they haven't hit their 305 yet) because their milk is worht so much!
    Not sure how econmical it is with one cow. You could always ask though.




    Willow, do you treat mastitis cases with antibiotics? Has the farm ever tried just letting the cow fight it? Just curious. We stopped treating for the most part and have found they recover in about the same amount of time without the hassle of treating them and the expense of the medication, nor the worry about treated milk making it into the tank.
    At the school farm (where I work on the weekends) they do treat...
     
  5. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for all the replies. Outside of Phoenix is a large dairy community, but around here is only beef cattle, so I won't be able to tack on a sample to another farms. I'm not going to worry about testing a sample as it sounds like things are going fine.

    The one thing I do have another question about is ecoli. I have operated on the assumption that if I was her with the udder wash really well before I milk her that ecoli isn't going to be a problem. Am I making the right assumption?

    Another question came to me last night when I was pasteurizing some of the milk (I don't pasteurize most of the milk, but a couple of people I give it to want it pasteurized). After the timer goes off, I am supposed to run cold water into the tank to cool down the milk. Easy enough to follow, but I've been running water into the tank until the water from the output hose runs cold, then I stop it up until that water runs cold, and keep repeating the process. I have a real concern about wasting that much water if I just keep it running instead of what I'm doing. What do the rest of you do or have seen done?
     
  6. Julia

    Julia Well-Known Member

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    Half right. Just be aware that dried manure from your cow's belly or flank, or even from dust in the barn can drop/blow into the milk bucket and contaminate it with e.coli. The best way to deal with this (assuming you're not machine milking, which removes the problem) is to chill your milk immediately, and as fast as you can. Strain the milk into containers, and then set the containers in as much ice cold water as you can muster up. The more the better. Add ice to the water as it melts, and leave it there until the milk is 33 degree F.

    That way, if you did get some small e. coli contamination in the milk, it will not grow to a level that will give you problems.

    If you want the best flavor, you'll just let the water run continuously until the milk is cold. If you can. Water wells being what they are....
     
  7. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    I'm immediately straining the milk and putting it into the jar and straight into the fridge. Is that okay enough or should I strain into the other bucket, cool it in ice water and then put it in jars (I'm gathering the surface area in a bucket makes it easier to chill than in a jar and that is the point you are making).

    Glad about the pasteurizing tip, I can detect a "cooked taste" in the pasteurized milk, but living in the drought ridden south west with water as one of my utility bills.....
     
  8. Julia

    Julia Well-Known Member

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    Well, it's OK enough for me (that's what I do), but it will allow more bacterial growth than chilling the milk quickly in an ice bath. It takes hours to chill the milk in the fridge.

    And since you were concerned about e. coli, you should know that. How you deal that info is up to you. Just FYI, so many folks have trouble with e.coli (in cheesemaking) in the summer months that its a perennial problem on an email cheesemaking list I'm on. July and August is e.coli blown cheese time, and since you're in perpetual summer land, you should know that you're going to have to take extra trouble keeping your milk fresh.

    Your best bet to chill quickly is to strain the milk into rather small containers (like quart canning jars, rather than gallon ones), and immerse them up to the necks in a large sink of iced cold water until they are as cold as they can get without freezing. Then place them in a very cold fridge set at 32 degrees F.
     
  9. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Now for the next question, I'm making cheese for the first time this weekend. I'm actually at 7000' elevation (10 low temp today, about 40 for the high), so making cheese in the winter should be similar to most of the colder US. I don't think ecoli is a problem (no one has gotten sick, but I just want to have info to prevent it), but could you tell me the symptoms of what cheese that has been affected would be?

    Thanks again for schooling this newbie.
     
  10. pygmywombat

    pygmywombat Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure of this- but I think if your milk/cheese was infected with a bad bacteria it would go bad in the process of making it. It would be especially apparent with a hard type of cheese that needs to be aged.

    I think as long as you keep the udder clean at milking and filter well e. coli will not be a problem at all.

    Claire
     
  11. Julia

    Julia Well-Known Member

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    Sure. E. coli blown cheese swells up, and develops lots and lots of very small, perfectly round holes. It almost looks like it's turned into a miniature Swiss cheese, but it's spongy rather than firm. And the wheel begins to look like it's morphing into a football, or something.

    Now you sometimes get mechanical holes in cheese that are perfectly harmless. They have to do with how the cheese pressed. You can tell them from e.coli holes because they are not perfectly round, but angular.

    E.coli blown cheeses often have a bad smell, and a bitter taste, but not always. They don't age correctly, either way, and most cheesemakers usually toss them.

    You see them in midsummer because the high temperatures cause the e. coli to grow explosively, and so any little flaws in your cleaning routine become apparent in July and August.

    You probably won't see anything this time of the year.

    What kind of cheese are you making?
     
  12. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Sorry this has taken me a while to get back to, it's been a busy 2 days around here. I'm going to make feta cheese with a culture I bought from hoeggers and some kind of hard cheese. We'll see how it all turns out. The kids want mozzarella, but I'm not sure if I have the right enzymes. If all it takes is rennet, then I'll try it.

    i'm sure as with anything I've sone, I'll learn a whole lot this first time (mostly what not to do)!!!