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Milking machine or hand milking?  RSS feed

 
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I’d like to start a discussion on using a milking machine vs. hand milking a family cow. We are getting our first dairy cow this spring from a friend and she is currently in milk. I am kind of old-fashioned and have this idea I’d rather just hand milk into a bucket and keep things simple, but many people seem to think that’s a silly notion. I’ve been mulling the pros and cons for weeks. As far as machines go, anybody know any good and affordable options? Help me work this out y’all!
 
Posts: 65
Location: Portland, OR
27
cattle homestead cooking
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Milking by hand is very doable, and is possible with good results. Notice I’m not saying it’s easy☺️.

Have you milked before?

What breed is she - the cow - and how far along in her lactation?

Do you have a place setup where to milk her?

I guess I’ m just trying to find out more details to see if I can help but not necessarily write a bunch of stuff you already know...

 
Hanna Sanders
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Hi Liv, thanks for following up. We have a big traditional horse barn with 5 extra large stalls. I am planning to turn the stall adjacent the tack room into a little milking parlor, keeping it clean and closed so the horse, donkeys, etc. can’t get in there and dirty it up. I plan to put together a stanchion of some sort out of 2x4’s (or maybe pallets) because that’s what she’s used to. She is a large jersey cow. 5 years old. Been hand and machine milked. They milk her from behind instead of the side and have her in a stanchion where she eats feed while being milked. She last calved about 8 months ago I believe. She is very calm and well trained, but not much into being loved on or scratched. I have watched her being milked at the seller’s place. I have milked a goat a handful of times but it was a long time ago. I have 4 kids (10, 7, 4, and 2). We homeschool so they’re always underfoot. 😊 They usually come along and help me or play in the tack room when I do my daily barn chores. I figure I can relatively easily add milking to the mix. I enjoy the farm chores, so I don’t consider it “work.” The 2 older kids are very helpful. The cow is only being milked once a day, which I plan to continue. I like the cleanliness of a machine, but again, I’m just a simple person and would prefer to have 1 bucket vs. all those hoses and such to clean. I appreciate any and all suggestions/ advice!
 
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I think having access to- and critters used to- both is a ideal.

Machine milking is undeniably faster. It may also be easier to find a farmsitter who can (or is willing) to use a milker than to milk by hand, in the event you need to be gone.

Your time is valuable- don't forget to factor that in.

The simplicity is appealing, but I don't think I know ANYONE with dairy animals who doesn't long-term end up with a milking machine or at least talk about wanting one.
 
Liv Smith
Posts: 65
Location: Portland, OR
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cattle homestead cooking
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Like I said before, totally doable to milk by hand.

You probably know all these things, but maybe it’s helpful to reinforce some ideas.


It’s really good that you know the people you are getting her from, and that she already has been through several lactations ( I am assuming she has, at her age). It’s much more complicated for someone new to start with a cow that is also new☺️, to milking that is.

Hopefully, she is healthy, no diseases, has never had mastitis, and so on. Oh, and confirmed pregnant.

Not having milked before much, it will be hard until your hands get used with it. In my opinion, the more comfortable your position, the faster you’ll get better. Find a stool that will help, you’ll know what I mean when you’ll start. For instance, when I milk by hand I need to support my elbows on my legs, otherwise my arms get so tired right away.

Milking once a day definitely helps.

The cleanliness factor: keep her and the area she sleeps in as clean as you possibly can. Whatever bedding you choose to use, remove manure and urine soiled bedding as often as needed, depending on season and climate you’re in.

After milking,  use a milk filter to strain the milk, and cool it as soon as possible.

Feed her good feed, preferably start as close as possible with stuff she’s used to eat before you get her to your place, and make any changes gradually.

In you choose to milk by hand, I’d invest in a good stainless steel milking bucket. With care, it will last forever. After you’dw done milking, just wash it, and put it upside down to dry.

If you choose a milking machine system, I’d also not get something low quality. Also, keep in mind, to clean the machine, - for most types if machines, except surge milker, you need to have hot water ( or be able to carry it) to where your vacuum pump is. So yes, milking with machine takes less time, but cleaning it takes longer.  

I am not really advocating for one or the other, only trying to make a point that you can get good, clean milk with hand milking.


 
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