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Early morning milking

I keep forgetting to take photos at milking time because its usually still dark, but we slept in a little the other day, so I was able to take a few photos so that I can explain the process.



As you can see we bought a mini milking machine.  I would have loved to hand milk, it seems so romantic and in touch with nature, but we have tried to hand milk Bella a couple of times, just to see if we could and that made me very glad to have a milking machine instead!  Bella has VERY small teats, you can only wrap a couple of fingers around them, instead of your whole hand, so it makes hand milking very slow (apparently cows are being bred to have smaller teats to suit milking machines, rather than hand milking which is better with longer teats, just another frustrating consequence of industrial farming).  Its also interesting how much dirt and hair ends up in your hand milking bucket.  When we'd finished, I wasn't too confident that the milk was clean, whereas if it get sucked straight from the teats into our milk can, there's not much chance of any contamination.  So its turned out to be a good purchase.

Each morning we get up around 5:30am.  People say that you have to milk at the same time every day, but if you think about a large farm, with 100+ cows, milking may take a couple of hours and in that case each cow would get milked at a different time each day anyway, so I don't think Bella minds if we are half an hour either way (usually late!).


We prepare a bucket of milled grain of Bella food the night before, so we can just grab the food bucket, a bucket with a little hot water in it and the milking machine and take it all down to the milking bales.  Bella is usually waiting by the gate.  For the food, not the milking!  I doubt that any cows actually enjoy milking, unless they have a very full udder, but they all get fed either immediately before, or during, milking, so that's why you see them walking over to the milking shed.

We then wash Bella's teats with warm water and turn on the milking machine.  When the vacuum is established we put the teat cups on Bella's teats and watch the milk being sucked up into the milk can.  When not much milk is coming over we break the vacuum and remove the teat cups.  We tip the milk from the can into a stainless steel bucket via a funnel with a piece of cheese cloth clamped over an in-built filter.  Depending how much milk is in the bucket, sometimes we then pour it into jugs, or just put the whole bucket (with lid) in the fridge.


The milking machine is then cleaned by sucking a bucket of warm water/detergent through the machine (steaming hot water would damage the pump, as does strong chemicals or too much suds).  The clean up for the milking machine is pretty simple, so its really not any more difficult than hand milking.

Bella then gives the rest of her milk to Molly while she eats some hay.


Do you hand-milk or machine-milk or both?  Any advice?

You might also be interested in my series on getting started with homestead dairy

Comments

  1. Cool. I didn't realise you could get small milking machines like that nor did I realise that cows are now being bred for machine milking and not hand milking. Another sign of a world gone mad. Bella certainly doesn't seem worried about any of it that's for sure.

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  2. What is the brand of your milking machine please and where did you purchase same. I just lost my house cow, suppose to be with milk fever but I think it was from paralysis tick. We only bought her the day before she calved and when we got her into the yard she was riddled with ticks mainly dark ticks, brown ticks and the grey ones. I think she would have had paralysis ticks on her too as the calve was wobbly tonight and I found eight ticks from inside her ears. She has improved since I took them off. I had the Vitrate from the vet but would have liked yoour recipe but it wouldn't down load. Could you please send it to me. Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Hi, So sorry to hear about your cow, that amount of ticks cannot have been good for her, poor thing, now you just need to do your best for the calf. Keep looking for ticks. I'm not sure which recipe you're looking for though. The milking machine is a Daviesway mobile milker, if you google that you will find your local supplier. Email me on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com and I might be able to help you more. Best wishes.

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  3. Hi Liz I have just found your blog here. have just bought my first dairy cow- we breed thousands of beef cattle, but I've never had a milking cow- my dream. she calved on Monday (18 hours after we brought her home- we thought that would happen) and I have bought a single bucket milking machine as well. it hasn't arrived yet! despite paying an extra $500 to have it here christmas eve. it should be here Monday. My big question is, what dairy wash detergent do you buy? and teat dip/wash or do you have a home recipe? I've heard cold water with the wash is perfectly acceptable. I'm having trouble sourcing it and knowing which one to buy. Husbo is a stock and station agent, so I can get whatever, I'm just after advice as to what's best and less 'chemical'

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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