Thursday, December 09, 2010

So we got the milk, what do we do with the cream?

I'd like to nudge you over to Carla's blog to see how we turned cream from our milk (now that we have some) into butter! Click the link below to find out all about it.

Our milking has slowed a little as the Momma cow's calf became sick. I feared it was getting pneumonia as it was breathing heavy. I gave it a dose of Micotil (an injectible antibiotic for respiratory illness in cattle) and hoped for the best. Despite it getting quite cold out about the time Dot got sick (-23C one night) she seems to have recovered well. For now I'm leaving it all the milk Momma has and had an opportunity to milk Daisy the Dexter who actually cooperated quite well. So I might just stay with milking her instead. We shall see how it goes!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Revisiting Cow Milking

Last fall when we purchased a couple of Dexter cows (a miniature dual-purpose breed) we tried our hand at milking. The experiment lasted only a couple of weeks when Daisy decided she'd had enough. A couple of weeks ago we had another cow have a late calf and Carla asked if it would be possible to milk her. After some thought I figured I'd give it a try as this cow has a very quiet temperament. We've had her from birth and she's a full size cow, half Angus (mother) and half Hereford (father). She has no name as we usually don't name our cows, but her tag is 4D15. As you might be able to tell from the photo above, her calf has been dubbed Dot. It's a little heifer calf.

The cow hasn't gotten quite used to the whole milking procedure yet. She began very concerned for her calf. When we began I was putting her into a so-called "maternity pen" designed for assisting cows at calving time which didn't quite work for getting her into a headgate properly restrained. Even with a tub of grain in front of her it was hard to convince her to cooperate. When I found an opportunity I setup our portable cattle handling system in our barnyard (it spends the summer setup at our pasture corrals). Look it up here. It's a big long green thing with wheels. This machine is specially designed for cattle flow and restraint and is working far better. Another thing which helps is that once the cow is in the headgate, she is looking at the corral she came from where her calf is, so I think she's less worried. Over time she will get used to the process I'm sure and remember she's getting a tasty treat.

Anyway, once she's in, she's happily eating her tub of grain and stands wonderfully for me to milk. So far I'm milking every morning and can usually get 2-4 liters of milk from her, depending what the calf has left me. It has usually cleaned out 2 of the four tits before I get there. During the short time I was milking the Dexter cow, we got very rich milk, at times probably 30% cream. This cow is the complete opposite. It's Milk Lite! Carla's a little disappointed as she was hoping to make butter and ice cream. Sorry, not for a while yet!

As a child my dad milked cows and we drank raw milk so I have no reservations about it. Is it healthier? I don't know, but there's a certain satisfaction to eating and drinking our own production whether it's dairy, vegetable or beef, that's for sure. I hope to do a Part 2 soon to show the milking and de-creaming and all the other fun household parts of the job!