Family Milk Cow {Part Two}

Family Milk Cow Transporting Equipment

Welcome to part two of our Family Milk Cow blog series. If you haven’t checked out part one, you can find it here.

In this blog post and YouTube video I am going cover the following topics:

  1. Milking schedule, breeding, and cow / calf logistics

  2. Milking equipment

  3. Hay and grain

  4. Washing udders

  5. Strip cups

  6. Automatic bucket milkers

  7. Homemade udder balm (bag balm)

  8. Washing equipment

We milk our Jersey Cow once a day for her entire lactation, 10 months and then we dry her off 60 days before she calves (Click HERE if you want to watch the birth). What this means is, we need to put a bull in with her 60 days after she calves to get her preggers for the next lactation the following year.

This schedule leaves us two months of the year without milk, so we drive 5 hours round trip to a fabulous dairy North of us for milk every two weeks.

The Momma cow and calf logistics:

We keep Momma and baby together for 2 -3 weeks and then we permanently separate cow and calf. We have tried everything under the sun to keep them together and still get our fair share of cream (the 12 hour together and then separate, etc). When our Momma cows know she has a baby to feed, you won’t get much cream and definitely not the heavy cream that comes at the end of milking.

Well, I have a baby feed and husband to please, so I need cream for all things yummy…Β  ice cream, coffee cream, sour cream, creme frache, cheese-making… you get the picture. The first year we ended up bottle feeding with Momma cows raw milk for 7 months. The second year we didn’t keep the calf and third year of milking we had our high producing Momma cow adopt our family milk cows baby. It was a win-win for everyone. We’ll see how this milk season pans next month … we may do something different! πŸ™‚

Here’s the video…

MILKING EQUIPMENT:

We purchased all our dairy equipment and supply’s through a dairy distributor, who bought it from EZmilking.com.

I tried buying our milker direct, but EZmilking will not sell to individuals, you have to be a dealer. You can call the EZmilking telephone number and they’ll give you a local distributor in your area.

If you’re interested in the automatic machine we have, you can read more about it here… Portable Vacuum Pump Instructions – electric.

Strip Cup. Milking Parlor. Family Milk Cow Milking Parlor Accessories

UDDER / TEAT SPRAY:

I fill up a spray bottle with 50% filtered clean water, 45% vinegar, %5Β antiseptic betadine and a bit of essential oils (usually tea tree oil and eucalyptus). You can also add a bit of vitamin E or glycerin for moisturizing. Hamby Milk Supply Inflation Plug

If you are sharing milk with a calf and leaving the calf on the mother, you may want to consider leaving one quarter for the calf. Or maybe your cow get’s an infection (masticis)… we’ve used the inflation plugs pictured to your right, many many times.

Udder Cream

UDDER BALM (BAG BALM):

Here is how I make itΒ  —>Β  Equal parts Shea Butter, Coconut oil and Olive Oil. Directions: Warm the oil gently in a crock pot or on the stove and put in herbs like Comfrey, Calendula, Rosemary, and St. Johns Wort. Let the herbs infuse overnight. Then take out the herbs and then gently melt some beeswax in the same pot on low. Wait until it is liquefied and stir well, then pour in jars.

We use this lotion for everything… chap stick (just add more beeswax), body lotion, face lotion, baby hiney balm, rashes whatever… this stuff is magical. I buy the Shea butter, beeswax and herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs in bulk.

 

WASHING MILK EQUIPMENT:

Daily Routine

  1. Rinse everything with cold water, drain water
  2. Fill laundry sink with very hot water and add dish soap (2 teaspoons or so) and bleach (about 2 ounces), brush everything out and drain water
  3. Rinse everything really well with the hot water
  4. Hang equipment to dry

Once a Week Heavy Cleaning

  1. Take apart the milking claw (screws and rubber gaskets) rinse with cold water and drain water
  2. Fill sink with hot water, then pour in dairy wash (about 3-4 ounces). We let it sit in the liquid for a bit and then brush everything down, drain and rinse everything off well
  3. Fill sink with hot water and pour in 3-4 ounces of the three-way acid. Stir it around a bit with your hand and then drain the liquid. Don’t let your equipment hang out in the acid (it’ll eat it).
  4. Rinse everything off with hot water
  5. Hang all your equipment to dry

Dairy cleaner: Three Way Acid Dairy Wash: Pipeline Express

We bought our dairy wash and 3 way acid cleaner from our local dairy supply source in 25 gallon barrels (be sure to buy the “key” to open these barrels and TWO pumps to extract the liquid – see picture). You can also buy smaller quantities through places like Hamby Dairy Supply and Hoegger Farm Yard online.

The key you'll need to open the big barrels of dairy chemicals Make sure to order two pumps one for the acid and the other for the wash!

FEED – HAY & GRAIN:

All our cows are on pasture 100% of the time. They eat green forage and hay in the winter. However, when it comes to milk time, we do feed about 4 – 5 lbs of grain and some supplements to our jersey milk cow. The feed makes it so our cow is waiting at the gate for milking and when we open the gate she eagerly heads straight to the stanchion… no fuss and no lead ropes. Our cow loves it and so do we. Here’s what we give her…

Organic Grain Mix for dairy Cow Sprouted Grain

If you any questions comment below! πŸ™‚ If you also milk a family cow, goat or sheep let us know how you do it!

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Comments

  1. i have spent the last 3 days reading over all of your information! Thank you for sharing all of it!!!! I did have a question for you or whoever knows… We live in Minnesota and it is a bit chilly in the winter. do you do anything different in the winter? should we heat our future milking parlor? any advice would be much much appreciated!!!!

  2. Just my two cents; I added a stainless steel inline filter to my bucket milker, which saves a lot of time and mess. You can pour your milk straight into what ever you store it in, or right into your cheese making pot. It takes a 6″ sock filter, sold by Hamby’s for $67. And thank you so much for taking the time to make these wonderful videos!

  3. do you have more of a exact recipe for your udder cream/balm? I m terrible about guessing…I never know how much! I would really like to try it. ALso, with the coconut oil, and shea butter. WHat are the names you use? There are SOOO many to choose from. I assume the olive oil is the extra virgin? Or can you use regular?

    Thanks so much, ROxann

  4. Thank you so much for all the info and these videos, they’re priceless. I was just surfing on making butter and came across your video, then came to your website. You both have put so much time into this and we appreciate it so much.

  5. I just devoured ALL of your information and videos in the last 2 days. It was like not being able to put a good book down. All of your methods and purpose behi:-) nd your “why” I could completely relate to. Thank you for all your time and effort in bringing us all this information. I pray God’s blessing of health on you and your family.
    I have toalso say that with the positive information that you gave I have officialy decided that having a milk cow and chickens are worth the intensive work.
    My question is… how much time out of your day do you spend on animals, milk, cheese, ect.? I also would like to know how much money you think you save and how much money you budget to supply your family with πŸ™‚ such wonderful healthy products?

  6. Rachael – THANK YOU! So, can you tell me when you start milking after birth . . . Do you start right away after birth saving the colostrum? Do you wait the few days and then start milking and then giving the calf milk twice a day in a bottle? I know you have a milk mother – our only cow will let anyone nurse – the bull that isn’t related, her calf, the goats – so we have a time keeping her away from them. I need another cow for milking and use her to raise the calves. She’s part miniature so she only gives a couple of gallons a day, up to 3 at best. This is the part that I’m wondering about – the very starting days. And, in cheesemaking – do you take off the cream before making cheese? I have always done this and don’t know if this is right or not. MW

    • Sorry for getting your name wrong – old eyes are my problem these days!
      Do you also find that you use less rennet and less culture in raw milk?

  7. Suzi from Queensland, Australia says:

    How much beeswax do you add to your bag balm?

    • Suzi… I just eye ball it… sorry I don’t have a better answer! One of these days I’ll weight it and figure out it out exactly… when I make it I make a lot… because use use it for everything in the house and on the cows… I make about a gallon lotion/balm and I probably put about 5 ounces of beeswax… approximately… we live in Texas and it’s really hot… if I don’t use any beeswax… the lotion would be liquid… πŸ™‚

      You can make it let it cool in the fridge and check the consistency… and if it’s not firm enough… then you can rewarm it and add more beeswax. Eye balling / guessing has always worked for me… so I’ve never measured…

  8. This year I finally got my dream…..a Brown Swiss house cow! She was formerly a show cow, so she was halter broken. She has the typical placid nature of the Brown Swiss. She calved about 3 weeks after we got her and we were disappointed it was a bull calf. But “Hotshot” as we call him, is such a great calf we are keeping him to use as a sire. He is beefier and taller then our beef calves. His growth rate is also twice theirs. Brown Swiss are really dual purpose cattle…the cows are very dairy, but the boys are very beefy. Also they have the best milk composition for cheese making. I milk when we need milk. We leave the calf on her and just lock him up the night we want to milk. I milk by hand and it takes me about 20 minutes now all up…from calling her in & getting my stool out, etc. I usually brush her too, as she seems to enjoy it and I no longer have a horse! Every 3 months I clip her udder and surrounds to keep things cleaner. She is on irrigated improved pasture, but I do give her about 3 pounds of grain & millrun the day before I milk. I no longer feed her while milking as it seems to make her restless. I am going to try sprouting grains for her. I supplement with molasses (we live near a sugar mill), kelp, DE and appple cider vinegar. I tend to milk every 3rd day and I usually only take 2.5-3 gallons and leave a bit for the calf.

  9. I am so blessed to have found your website. I have a grass-fed Jersey that just had her first calf on June 18. I hand milked for a while until I found your website. I am currently renting the same milking machine that you have. Do you have any video coverage showing the more intense once a week cleaning of the machine? Thanks so much!

  10. Is the milking machine actually saving you time and/or work? It seems to me all that cleaning up is taking more time than just hand milking would.

    • Jackie,
      We hand milked for two months before we bought an automatic milk machine. It takes half the time to milk with a machine… even with the cleaning. Also, we can keep our milk cleaner. We have wind and sugar sand in these parts. Also, sometimes cows poop and pee when they’re annoyed… not often… but it happens. Our milk machine is worth it’s weight in gold. We love it. Also, we have a toddler, it’s much nicer to be done with the “milking” part in 6 minutes… than sitting there for 25 – 30 minutes while your toddler is trying to get your cow upset by crying πŸ˜‰ This is our fourth season milking with this machine… l o v e it.

  11. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of your videos! You can only read about this stuff so much before you just need to SEE it. You explain it so clearly and fully, and I am grateful that you don’t edit heavily but let us watch the whole process. Thank you! I can’t wait for episodes 3 and 4.

  12. Great post, bookmarked for when we get our first cow! πŸ™‚

  13. HI Rashel:
    Our jersey family cow is in her 2nd breeding due in Sept. Had a few problems getting her re-bred after the first calf- ended up with a cross bred since she never took to the jersey AI we tried. For 1st calf, we kept the calf on her and we milked her twice a day for us. Never had a problem with her saving the cream, etc. We always milked at the same time each day, and always left one teat for the calf, we milked out 3. Most of the time the calf nursed at the same time we were milking. We knew it was going OK, when the calf started to wean himself. She finally bred in December, and we started to back her off to one milking a day in February- we are getting 2-3 gallons each AM. We will need to dry her up in June- any hints on drying her up?
    Barb
    Irishstars Farm
    NW Iowa

    • Barb,

      That’s great that you were able to share milk with the calf and didn’t have to wean the calf from it’s mother. I’ve noticed every cow is different πŸ™‚
      For drying up… here’s what we do… if our cow is giving around 1 gallon of milk… we just cut her off “cold turkey” stop milking and don’t touch her teats again (until she calves). We make sure to at least give her 60 days dry before she calves again. If she’s giving 2 gallons or more, you can start to milk less over the period of 3-4 days. If you milk twice a day, go to once a day, for a few days… then skip a day and milk every other day. Then just quit cold turkey… πŸ™‚

      Hope that helps,

      Rashel

  14. To Andrew and Rashel, thank you so much for taking the time to show us how you do things. We really appreciate it, as we gather information from others and learn from their experiences, we hope to miminalize our mistakes when we start milking in September (all being well!). My only thought is, wouldn’t the time you save in machine milking be spent in all that cleaning and sterilizing? is there a reason you chose to switch to the machine, it it more efficient?
    blessings!
    Lian and Jeremy
    DownUnder, Australia

    • Lian and Jeremy,
      Thanks for following our blog and commenting on our family milk cow series! We definitely love our milk machine. It takes us about 2 minutes to put it together, 10 minutes to fully milk 4 gallons of milk and about 6 minutes to clean the equipment… we like the milk machine because it keeps the milk cleaner. It get’s hair and dirt and bits of stuff in the milk. Also, if you hand milk, you need a cow with the right size teats. Our first family cow had really short teats, using the machine make it much easier.
      Overall, we think it’s quicker and easier to use a machine even though we do have more equipment to clean. Hope that helps.

  15. Thanks!!! It made me feel like I was milking with you! πŸ™‚

What are you thoughts?