The Milk Project Part 1RSS feed

Posted: Monday 11 May, 2015

by Rosemary at 5:21pm in Cattle 2 comments Add your own

When we first got cattle in 2010, the intention was to milk them for the house. When Breeze and Blizzard calved for the first time in 2012, my head was too full of magic to try; in 2013, they kind of knew that the milk was for calves and weren’t keen on sharing. I was advised to try with a heifer so last year I tried (but not very hard) to milk Annie, when she had her first calf. But it’s always been there, eating away at me. I think because I couldn’t get the perfect system planned in my head, I couldn’t get started.

Anyway, there’s been a bit of discussion about it in Shetland cattle circles, so I’ve decided to give it another go. Blizzard calved on 2nd May and Annie on the 9th – both have huge udders, so I guess plenty of milk. I want to leave the calves with them – partly so I can have a day off milking if I need to and partly because I’d rather keep in as natural as I can.

Yesterday (10th May), I was huffing and puffing around as usual then decided to give it a go – don’t say I’m not spontaneous. No doubt the system will need a lot of tweaking but here we go.

I’ve decided to use the old byre but I didn’t pen the calves yesterday after I tied up the cows. Today I built a pen for the calves, with a nice deep straw bed. Both of them must have been knackered (see below).

Both cows are halter trained, so bringing them in isn’t too hard although two on halters, looking for their calves can be a bit precarious. But yesterday, the calves obligingly followed their mammies.

Bringing them in today was a nightmare. It took me an hour. First of all, getting the two cows and calves out the field without any of the others coming was a trick – and Vicki didn’t come put the gate at all; I lifted her over the fence. I won’t be able to do that next week. Once all four were in the same field on their own, the calves took off for a blast up and down the fence; tired out by that, they lay down for a sleep. So I’ve got two cows on halters, looking for their babies, who are planning to snooze for a bit. Video’d and speeded up like a Benny Hill movie, it would have been hilarious. At one point I was actually trying to verbally reason with them.

Finally got Blizz and Robbie in – he’s quite good at following his mammy. Annie was tied up in the Triangle; Vicki was back to snoozing, so I put a halter on her and huckled her to join her mum. Once through the gate, Annie knew where she was going – sugar beet and hay – and was off.

Milking Annie and BlizzardMilking Annie and Blizzard

So, an hour later, cows tied up and fed; calves in pen. Going to milk at 12 – High Noon.

Blizzard not very co-operative – which is disappointing as she’ll let other calves suckle her. Annie is better – got about a litre maybe but my hands hurt.



Tuesday 26 May, 2015 at 6:54pm

awesome!! your hands get used to it.. I used to manage 6 goats fine but found it too hard to do 8... lol..


Wednesday 27 May, 2015 at 4:02am

I do hope after going to all that fuss and expense that you are feeding Non GMO Sugar Beets . Yes sugar beets are are all GMO unless you buy Organic non GMO just a reminder James

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