Post by dwellandramble on Feb 7, 2019 16:38:53 GMT -5
It's been a little over a month now since Lucy and Maudie calved and I had so much trouble getting started milking. Much has changed, and I had so much help through this Forum that I figured a little update was in order
IMG_7075 by Sarah Withers, on Flickr
After two weeks of milking Lucy (Jersey, 4yo, 2nd time heifer) I finally decided to let her go. It was THE most stressful two weeks of my life! She kicked horribly, never would let down, and I was certain she'd end up with mastitis based on how much she was producing and how little she was giving me. It hurt to separate her from her calf - she was a great mother - but I am positive she will be a much better milk cow without a calf on her, and Mabel was the only heifer calf we got and I wasn't about to lose her too. Everything worked out positively providentially, and I found the very best home for Lucy on an up and coming Raw Milk MicroDairy in Northern AZ. The dairywoman who owns it is much more experienced than I am, and wasn't worried at all about Lucy's disposition (I was really honest about all my troubles with her). They treat their animals really well, and she is now a part of a small herd and will likely not be the boss-cow anymore. After all that, I still ended up selling Lucy for much more than I paid for her, and I got the sweetest little heifer calf out of it too. All's well that ends well, I suppose!
Now my sweet girl Maudie (Jersey, 7yo, 5th calf) is raising both Mabel (Lucy's calf) and her own little bull calf, Frankie. She is the very best cow and I am so thankful. Milking her is usually the best part of my day, and she is so very calm and patient with me. What a difference the disposition of the cow makes!
So now I have a couple management questions for all you experienced milkmaids out there.
At about 2 1/2 weeks fresh, I moved to OAD. With the two calves on her, and my milking OAD she seemed to be emptied out really well. I kept the calves on her 24/7 for the first two weeks of OAD, and still got 3 gallons or so every morning. Then I moved to separating the calves at night and milking OAD in the morning, and then letting her and the calves stay together all day. I got 4 gallons each morning pretty consistently. But the last couple days I started to suspect she was nursing the babies through the fence. Sure enough, yesterday I got one gallon and the babies seemed awfully satisfied for being locked up all night - ha! Last night I put Maudie in the pasture for the night, where she can't reach the fence where the calves are. This morning I only got 2 3/4 gallons. She's just about 5 weeks fresh. Is this just the babies taking more during the day? Or is her supply going down? There were two days where I couldn't get out to milk in the morning due to needing to take my dad to the airport super early, and I left the calves on her all night and just milked in the afternoon. Could I have messed things up by changing the schedule those days?
She gets as much Bermuda grass hay as she wants, plus a bit of alfalfa here and there as a treat. On my last thread I was advised to really up the grain of my cows, and I did do so, but she was looking bloated, and I had the chance to talk with her original owners and they said that she never reacted well to grain and one time had a toxic reaction and they had to have the vet out. They never gave her grain after that. I am currently giving her only 5-6 cups a day of a 14% organic soy-free dairy blend. She has free choice minerals and kelp, and our pasture is coming in nicely so she munches on that all day too. Her rumen looks nice and full each evening.
If it is just the calves demanding more milk (they sure are getting big!), when would you suggest weaning? I don't want to go back to TAD if I can help it. I planned to wean earlier than I initially wanted to, just because I know I'm going to want all that cream for myself soon now that she's nursing two calves.
IMG_6726 by Sarah Withers, on Flickr
IMG_6782 by Sarah Withers, on Flickr