Milking a dry cow

cows Milking cows Sweet Caroline

Lucy and Elvis

For years I have wanted a family milk cow. Lucy, whom I lovingly called Big Mama on most days and some unmentionable names on a few not so great days, was our first cow. I worked with her getting her used to being haltered, lead, tied, and walked but we never got to milk. Every spring since she came home her and I were due at the same time. It was always deemed unsafe for me to start training and milking her. 

 Along came Sweet Caroline. She is so sweet. Finally a spring that she is due and I’m not. I’m not going to lie, it’s bittersweet. But I am so excited to be where we are. 

A couple weeks ago I started seriously training her for milking. There was a lot of trial and error getting our space set up. There’s no stanchion. I started with a rope, a post and a feed bucket.

She’d empty her feed bucket and then start swinging her butt around and weasel over to the garbage can of cracked corn and dive in shoulder deep for a treat. So that was the first thing to be moved. Then the calf feed. Same thing. She’d finish her feed as fast as possible and then try to help herself to Charlotte’s bin.

Her and I got it figured out. The old insulated goat water tank. It’s heavy enough that she won’t push it around and just the right size for her fluffed up hay with a sprinkling of cracked corn. 

The next big step was that I can finally open the gate and she’ll calmly walk to her spot where I can then tie her. She hated wearing a halter but it was the safest way for me to walk her about. She has now graduated to a collar, which doesn’t bother her a bit. We’re both happy about that.

On to milking! After a couple weeks of early morning coffees she’s now comfortable with all the steps of the milking process. She had yet to kick last years calf off of her so I did separate them so that she could dry up before the next one arrives. That being said there was still some milk being produced. Not enough for our use and just enough for Rocky (last years calf) to continue his habit of trying.

To be this close to finally achieving this goal is so exciting! I can hardly wait for another tiny calf and hopefully some milk too.

Sweet Caroline

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