3 easy steps for breeding and milking dairy cows

July 29, 2015

Getting a good supply of milk from your dairy cows is easy if you follow the right  steps on breeding, feeding and milking. These tips will set you up for success.

3 easy steps for breeding and milking dairy cows

Tips on breeding

A cow must freshen, or bear a calf, in order to produce milk. You can breed Heifers or young females when they are as young as 10 months old, but it is best to wait until they are 18 months old or weigh at least 200 to 250 kilograms, depending on breed.

Basics of cow and calf care

Carrying a calf while producing 12 or more litres of milk a day is a tremendous drain on a cow's system. Keep these additional tips in mind when caring for your cow during its pregnancy:

  • Watch your pasturage carefully to be sure that it is tender, green and rich in legumes.
  • If the crop shows signs of browning off during dry weather or if the cow is losing weight, provide some high-energy food supplement.
  • Avoid overfeeding, however, especially during the last months of pregnancy, since this too can cause illness.
  • To protect the cow and future milk production stop milking the animal two months before the calf is due; the cow will go dry for the remainder of its pregnancy.
  • When the calf is born, be sure it begins to suckle and gets colostrum, the cow's first milk that is rich in vitamins and disease-fighting antibodies.
  • The cow will produce colostrum, which humans should not drink, for five days after freshening.
  • After the first two or three days, separate the calf and mother.
  • The calf's new quarters must be clean, dry and free of drafts. Cold temperatures are not harmful, but dampness, drafts and sudden exposure to cold can cause pneumonia.

Easy steps to milking a cow

Begin milking as soon as the calf is removed from its mother. Cleanliness is essential so keep the milking area free from dirt and sanitize all milking utensils. Pay attention to the cow too. Clip long hairs near its udder and brush the cow daily to remove dirt. Take note of the following tips:

  • Maintain a relaxed atmosphere during milking, milk at the same times each day and avoid disturbances.
  • At milking time lead the cow to its stanchion where a bucket of grain should be waiting. Wipe the udder with a warm, wet cloth, then start to milk.
  • The cow's teats are large and will require strength to milk. The first milk from each of the cow's four teats should be collected in a strip cup, a special cup with a filter on the top. If strings, clots or blood spots appear on the filter, discard the milk and call a veterinarian.
  • After testing the milk, proceed to milk two of the teats, holding one in each hand and squeezing them alternately. Eventually, their milk flow will slacken. When this happens, change teats and milk the other pair. It makes no difference which two teats you milk together.
  • As you empty the second pair, more milk is secreted from the udder into the first pair. Work back and forth, milking one pair and then the other until they no longer refill. Then rub the udder with one hand as you strip the teats with the other.
  • To strip, close the thumb and forefinger tightly around the top of the teat, then continue to squeeze as you pull your hand down its length.

Care for healthy cows and milk

To get the best milk from your cow you need to time milk production carefully around its pregnancy and care meticulously for the mother and calf. If you keep these tips in mind, you will have happy, healthy cows and delicious milk.

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