How to Milk a Cow Once a Day.
“Milking 1 cow is fun. Milking 80 cows is like being in prison.” That’s what the septic tank guy said to me.
I love my cow. I love milking my cow. Especially in the morning. The world is just beginning to come to life. The sun is rising, the sky is glowing. Everything is quiet, except for Shuck (our Bani-Rooster). He’s always crowing.
No one is awake, my home is orderly and clean. The air is brisk. I love my morning trip to the milking barn. Time disappears as we spend those first few minutes of our day gathering milk for the family.
Then it happens. Everyone get’s up, it’s time for breakfast, school, chores, some much needed playtime and before I know it, dinnertime is here, & crap! We need to milk the cow again.
I love milking my cow – but, those 2 milkings were ruling my life.
Want to go out to dinner? – Have to milk the cow.
The family’s having a BBQ? – Have to milk the cow.
Friends coming over? – excuse me – Have to milk the cow.
It’s Christmas? – Have to milk the cow.
Everything had to be scheduled around those 2 times a day when I had to milk the cow.
When I switched to once a day milking – life changed. I was free.
Switching from 2 milkings a day to once a day is the easiest thing in the world. You can be free too.
There are several options:
- Many folks milk their cow once a day period. No calf. No “share” milking. No hired hands. They simply have a super-cow who can be milked every 24 hours with no problems. This is not me. I have a high-maintenance cow who used to be on a milking line and likes to get mastitis. Milking once every 24 hours isn’t an option for me.
- Keep the calf with the cow. By “milk-sharing” with your calf you can take milk anytime you want it and let the calf take care of all the other milking. This is a wonderful arrangement. A perk of milk-sharing with the calf is that your cow will be raising your beef for you. Yea! No bottles!
- If you cow is not about to calve or you already ate the calf – don’t worry! You can go buy one. We have had tremendous success grafting orphan calves onto our jersey cows. Jersey’s are not only known for being excellent cream producers, they are also excellent mothers.
Tips for buying a calf to graft on to your milk cow:
- Buy from an individual if possible.
- Be sure he (or she) is healthy.
- The younger the better. If they have spent too many weeks on a bottle (or bucket) it could be hard to get them back on an udder.
- If your cow is a high producer you may consider 2 calves.
- It is best if the calf received colostrum it’s first days after birth.
Once you have a calf it will be a cinch to get a break from all the milking.
When the calf is tiny we begin by leaving him/her with mama-cow around the clock. In the morning we bring mama-cow into the milk barn and get our milk. The rest of the day the calf takes care of things for us.
I can separate the calf when I want milk. I can leave the mama-cow and calf together when I don’t want milk. If I don’t need milk, I can even skip a day. I get all the milk I need and can milk whenever I want.
Flexibility – Freedom – Yes Please!
I can even sleep in. Squeal!
Just leave the calf with the cow anytime you don’t want to milk. Most of my calves have been excellent at milking my cows for me.
Your calf will grow. As you continue to bring your cow into the milk barn to gather your share of the goods you may notice something. Each week your share of the milk may diminish. The day will come when you look into your milk pail and decide that your calf is not sharing nicely and something must be done.
It’s your cow after all. You should get some butter too.
This is when the separation comes in handy.
I feel the need to make a side note here: A normal cow will not drown her calf. If you happen to own the milk-producing “Dairy Queen” of all cows (like me) you may not be able to leave the calf with the cow around the clock. Our
freak cow produces about 4-6 gallons a day. A calf does not need 4-6 gallons a day. A calf can get sick eating 4-6 gallons a day.
Separating the calf from the cow for a period of time each day will not only allow you to get milk from your cow; it could keep your calf from eating himself to death. No kidding. Too much milk is a problem for claves.
Let’s get the calf away from the mama-cow! Whether you are doing it because your baby cow is scouring (diarrhea) because he is trying to eat himself to death; or just because you would like some of the milk from YOUR milk-cow. Separation must happen.
We built a little pen on the side of the run-in. There’s a roof. There’s walls. We even filled it with soft hay. The little guy (or gal) is very comfy in their pen. We even provide a snack or some water in the pen for the calf.
There’s our little guy inside. He has his water. He has his food. He is all set for the separation.
Mommy can see her baby, check on him, and recline right next to him. Happy mama cow.
There are many ways to play the seperation game. We’ve tried 2 approaches.
Separating them during the day and separating them during the night. Pretty simple. eh?
First, we tried penning up the calf during the day. Then we would milk our cow in the late afternoon. After we milked her we would reunite her with her calf and leave them together until the next morning.
This worked out well for us; however, we were only getting about a gallon and the calf was still drinking all my butter. A friend suggested that we pen the calf up at night instead of during the day.
So we did.
We penned the calf up in the evening and milked our cow first thing in the morning.
What happened was amazing.
The calf and cow were separated for the same amount of time, however, we got twice the amount of milk. We went from one gallon to 2 gallons and our cream line dramatically increased.
Having a calf around has changed my life:
- I can go out to eat dinner.
- I can go to the family BBQ.
- I can have friends over and not ask them if they want to go milk the cow.
- I can celebrate Christmas with family instead of cows. OK, maybe I want to be with my cows on Christmas.
- If we want to get away for the weekend – the calf can milk the cow for us.
- If we want to go on a 10 day vacation the calf can milk the cow for us.
- If I want to sleep in on Saturday the calf can milk the cow.
- It’s a beautiful arrangement. I get all the milk I want and the calf takes care of the rest.
Milk-sharing with a calf is wonderful.
If your calf gets too big, too ornery, or too mean and has to be relocated; you can still milk once a day. Just buy another calf to graft onto your mama cow. She will probably love having a new orphan to raise and you will have another beef for the freezer.
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