The Milk Project Part 2RSS feed

Posted: Monday 25 May, 2015

by Rosemary at 5:30pm in Cattle 6 comments Add your own

Well, my daily blog didn’t last long. But the milking has. Quick recap – after a couple of days, Blizzard was dropped from the milking project and only Annie kept on.

I’ve milked pretty much every day; I’ve changed from a plastic bucket to a stainless steel one – it’s huge and the bit of milk looks a bit lost in it.

Between the 11th and last Friday (22nd), Vicki got pretty good at following her mum into the byre; sometimes I used a halter to stop her going off exploring. On Friday, I couldn’t catch her and she wouldn’t follow, so I brought Annie in on her own. The biggest fuss is made by Blizzard (Boss cow and Annie’s mum), who bawls at the gate. I wonder if I should bring her in too, just to shut her up.

I didn’t bring Vicki in today either.

Between Part 1 and Part 2, Dan has made some cheese and is quite enthusiastic about pursuing this.

Our first cheese - PaneerOur first cheese - paneer

We decided to splash out and buy a milking machine from Tim Gibson. It is currently gathering dust in the boot room.

Gibson Mini MilkerMini milker - should make milking easier and more efficient

To be honest, I get a sore back milking and my hands get sore – although Annie is quite good at standing still, I’m always worried that she kicks over the bucket so I tend to milk with my right hand and hold the bucket with my left. Not very efficient but I am very righthanded; the left is only for decoration.

We need to get the milking machine going; when we do, I might try Blizzard again, just to make it worthwhile dirtying the machine. Next year, I’ll have Annie and Rosie, her 2014 heifer, milking.

What I can’t get my head round is separating off the calf in order to get more milk for us. I usually milk about 4pm. When I brought Annie in today, I was pretty sure the calf hadn’t long fed, because the udder was wet with saliva and was quite soft.

I’m now wondering if I should bring them into the barn, pen off the calves then take the cows to the byre to be milked. It’s a bit of a pain because it means the barn is used all year but it’s manageable – and the cows wouldn’t be milking when the sheep are in for lambing, being May calving. Yes, that might work. See, talking it through with you helps ☺

But how long do I pen the calves off for? Do I need to feed the cows? I don’t really want to be feeding hay in June.

OK, new plan for tomorrow ☺ I’ll keep you posted.



Wednesday 27 May, 2015 at 10:48am

I used to do the goats by shutting the kids in overnight, milking in the morning and then letting everyone out together during the day time. The kids would get a small bottle of milk before being let back to mum to prevent udder damage. Worked very well when I was a time poor new mum with 2 babies inside 16 months. As you say it then allows you to have a day off if required just by leaving the calves with the cows.


Wednesday 27 May, 2015 at 6:25pm

Well done Rosemary! And Dan too - that cheese looks great! :D

I think that pretty soon you will probably find that there isn't any over for you unless you keep the calves off for a few hours (at first) and then overnight.

If you're only milking one, your choices would be to pen cow and calf, but so that calf can't reach udder, or to pen two or three calves and leaves the mums out. They'll bawl at first but will very soon get used to the new regime.


Wednesday 27 May, 2015 at 6:34pm

I'll be very interested to hear how you get on with the milking machine. I was on the point of buying one this year, as I was wanting gallons of milk each day (from my 3 Jerseys) to rear the pet lambs. However, I held off as I was worried about the udder being lopsided due to the calf sucking out one or two quarters, and the machine not recognising that and causing harm by applying suction to empty quarters.

I don't put the bucket on the ground, I sit on an upturned tub (aka 'milking stool') and hold the bucket between the calves (of my legs, lol) - which leaves both hands free to milk. You have your head pressed against her flank, and you soon learn the signals that she's going to fidget, and can whip the bucket out of the way before it comes to harm.

Otherwise, if needing to do it onehanded for some reason, I milk straight into a platic jug, and tip the jug out into the bucket (safely behind and away from any possibility of getting knocked or splattered ;) ) from time to time. I find it much more comfortable, and safer, than holding a bucket up onehanded as you are doing in your pic.

And your hands will get used to it, honest - not to mention that as the cow gets used to it, she will drop her milk for you, and it will take a lot less effort to milk her. Let a hungry calf on to sook while you are milking and you will see what I mean!


Wednesday 27 May, 2015 at 7:42pm

Good points, Sally. Keeping the claves in would be the thing, I think. happy to give them hay and a bit of feed - gets' them used to being handled too. Need to work out how to GET them in though :-)

Milking machine still in its wrapper :-(


Wednesday 27 May, 2015 at 9:00pm

To get the calves in, bribe the mums with something they like (sounds like beet for yours), hopefully the wee ones follow, then shoo the mums out when they've eaten their beet ;)

As soon as the wee ones learn to like Calf Crunch, of course, you can get them to be anywhere you want. But if yours are like ours, they don't even play on with it till 4 weeks or so, and don't really eat it until about 6 weeks.


Tuesday 16 June, 2015 at 10:37am

Rosemary, I think your back would improve if you put the bucket on the ground/ between your knees and sited your milking stool to a more comfortable distance ie to suit you. The ache in your hands will improve as they get used to milking (you'll soon have wrists as thick as tree trunks!!)

As for the calves, we had them separate until milking times when we left a quarter for them, suited both mothers and young. The cows soon came to accept the routine though it was always a bit of a fuss for a while.

Leave a comment

Please use the form below to leave a comment. All fields are required unless otherwise indicated, and your email address will not be displayed or shared.

Some HTML allowed: <strong>, <em>, <blockquote>. URLs will be converted to links automatically.

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2022. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS