The Milk Project Part 4RSS feed

Posted: Sunday 21 June, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 9:42am in Cattle 3 comments Add your own

OK, so following hard on the heels of Part 3, which was written two weeks ago, here's Part 4.

About ten days ago, we decided to start bringing the cows and calves in at night and milking in the morning. We brought them in at 10pm and milked at 6am. This routine was killing us - not getting to bed until 11pm and up at 6am just wasn't getting us enough sleep. Last night, I went to let the ponies out at 8pm and the cows were standing at the gate, bawling, so I let them in. More milk this morning and they all seemed quite content. And we'll get an extra couple of hours sleep. So result all round.

This is my current routine, which is working quite well. Bring the cows in at 8pm; Blizz and Annie on halters, in and tied up with some hay until Rosie and the calves get huckled in. They sometimes get distracted by, well, anything really. Calves in pen with coarse mix, some sugar beet and hay. They pick at the hay, but don't touch the hard feed. Cows untied and left for the night with hay and water.

6am. Scald milking bucket, funnel and filter; fill today's milk container with cold water and half a Milton tablet. Fill red bucket with hot water and antibacterial wash, for udders. Head up to the barn. Tie up Blizz, Annie and Rosie and give them some sugar beet. Lift any dung in the milking area. Give the three some hay and wash udders. I wash with warm soapy water, dry and wipe with antibacterial udder wipes.

Start milking. Blizzard gets done first; for a previously unmilked fourth calver, she's great. I usually just take from the two rear quarters. Once she's done, I milk Annie. She's not as milky as her mother, so I usually do three quarters from her but I never milk her right out. My technique is improving but it's still one handed because, although they stand pretty good, they do rattle the bucket from time to time and I would be gutted if the bucket spilled. Basically, I milk until my back aches :-)

Once finished, I put the lid on the milk bucket and put it outside the barn. I let Rosie off her halter and let the two calves out. They always go for a feed. While they're feeding, I take the milk to the house then go back and let them all back into the field.

Back at the house, the milk is filtered, put into that day's carton (we have seven plastic milk cartons each with the day written on it to prevent mixups) and put in the fridge. The bucket, funnel and filter are rinsed with cold water. Later in the morning, they'll be washed in hot, soapy water.

Back at the barn, any dung in the milking area is cleaned up, the lying area bedded and the water replaced. The hay racks are filled for night and the sugar beet measured out.

Today, I got over three litres of milk. Now, I know this isn't a huge amount but it's 50% more than I got yesterday. When I get the machine going, there will be much more I think, but there's no point in taking it if we don't have a use for it.

Once I'd finished milking, I fed the pigs, the meat chicks, the cats, the dog and the ponies, gave Wabbit her bottle (don't ask, she's a fat as butter), let the hens out and checked the tree guards in the orchard paddock where the sheep are grazing.

Now I've had my breakfast and am going off to poo pick the ponies' paddock, soak hay nets and tidy round. Then I am going to sit on my bum with my book and a cup of tea. Happy Solstice everyone.



Sunday 21 June, 2015 at 11:51am

Brilliant to hear how well you've got this all working now. Well done Rosemary :)


Sunday 21 June, 2015 at 11:57am

Just a thought - now they're all used to the routine, you could, if you wanted, put the cows out again for the night, once the calves are penned. The mums will be at the gate waiting for you in the morning ;). While the grass is good, they can have the benefit of grazing overnight, and it would save you some hay and quite a bit of cleaning up ;). I find that the udders are cleaner if they've been outside on grass overnight too.

Another benefit of this is that the calves get used to being on their own as a group, without their mums. I think this helps them when it comes to weaning time - they still holler for milk, but it's a lot less and for less time. And they are easily distracted by feed, by then ;)


Friday 15 April, 2016 at 12:02pm

Have you used your Tim Gibson milking machine at all? Currently looking at portable milking machines and it is one of the sites we're looking at. The other site is Livestock Supplies Limited. Any thought on your milking machine?

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