In this blog post and YouTube video I am going cover the following topics:
Milking schedule, breeding, and cow / calf logistics
Hay and grain
Automatic bucket milkers
Homemade udder balm (bag balm)
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… 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!
Here’s the video…
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.
UDDER / TEAT SPRAY:
I fill up a spray bottle with 50% filtered clean water, 45% vinegar, %5 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.
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 BALM (BAG BALM):
Here is how I make it —> 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 liquified 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:
- Rinse everything with cold water, drain water
- 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
- Rinse everything really well with the hot water
- Hang equipment to dry
Once a Week Heavy Cleaning
- Take apart the milking claw (screws and rubber gaskets) rinse with cold water and drain water
- 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
- 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).
- Rinse everything off with hot water
- Hang all your equipment to dry
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.
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…
- Alfalfa hay or alfalfa pellets – depending on what we have on hand
- Sprouted grain (read more about this here) 0r organic dry mixed dairy ration
- Supplements: Dry molasses, Sea-90, Thorvin Kelp (or Fertrell’s Dairy Nutri-Balancer) & Diatomaceous earth
If you any questions comment below! If you also milk a family cow, goat or sheep let us know how you do it!