I’ve been anxiously awaiting the birth of our calves for about a month. I expected them in March, and the first one just arrived today. While I was beginning to doubt that my cows would ever have a baby, the wait time did give me time to think through my milking routine for this year.
Since getting our first milk cow in 2012, I’ve used several milking schedules. Here’s a quick look at how my milking plans have changed over the years. It’s been neat to reflect on this.
2012-2013 Milking Routine
When my first cow had a calf, I started milking twice a day. I took the calf away right after birth, and spent several months bottle feeding the baby. That’s what I thought farmers were supposed to do, and I wanted to do everything right.
Not wanting to feed the calf powdered formula, I typically fed the baby the milk from the evening milking. I fed a half gallon right away, and saved another half gallon to warm up and feed in the morning.
I kept the milk from the morning milking.
Our routine was working nicely until an unexpected trip to the hospital with Owen changed my plans. I switched to a once a day model. You can read more about that here.
2014-2015 Milking Plan
Even though milking once a day had gone well, I didn’t want to start off that way. So when my cows had their babies, I took the calves again and started milking twice a day.
Except one of my cows had severe edema. I couldn’t get any milk.
So I put her baby back in with her, and the frequent nursing and headbutting helped her release the milk. After a week or so, I separated them again and went back to milking twice a day.
I switched to once a day milking once I weaned the calves at three months, and kept that routine until I dried the cows up.
2015-2016 Milking Schedule
Leaving the calf with my milk cows for a couple extra days worked so well, so I did that again this year. I milked once a day, just to make sure there weren’t any signs of mastitis.
About a week after welcoming the calves, I separated them and started milking one cow twice a day, and the others once a day. You can read more about this here.
Feeling overwhelmed from trying to grow my business and homeschool and everything else, I wasn’t really looking forward to milking this year.
Thankfully, I’d been reading about shared milking for quite a while. I finally took the plunge. And I learned that you don’t have to be tied to the farm when you have milk cows.
It was such a freeing discovery, and I wrote all about it in my “A Busy Mom’s Guide to Owning a Milk Cow” post.
2017-2018 Milking Routine
Shared milking worked beautifully, so that’s what I’m doing this year. Since Annie just had her baby, I’ll bring her into the barn tomorrow and check her out. Then I’ll start milking occasionally. The baby will take care of the rest!
Here’s a peek at Sonic, the newest member of Grouse Creek Farm. We were a bit disappointed that he was another bull. We’ve had 8 straight now. I’m still hoping that Maggie delivers a heifer this year!
Benefits of Shared Milking
Here’s why I love shared milking:
- I’m free to take days off from milking when life is crazy
- The calves grow so much better
- It’s less stressful
- I have less milk to store in the fridge–when I need milk I milk
- I don’t need to worry about finding back up milkers to cover me
I’m definitely looking forward to having fresh milk again!
Do You Have Milk Cows?
What’s your milking routine? I’d love to hear what works best for other people.