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Lula’s new routine

June 18, 2010

Milking Lula is making me miss Della even more – not that Lula is a bad cow, but she’s not Della.  She is getting into the new routine, but the biggest problem is not that she kicks or doesn’t let down her milk for me, but that she won’t leave the Lola.  If you have ever tried moving a 1200 pound dead weight, then you know what I mean.   She plants her feet, and won’t budge.  We had the bright idea of leading Lola out first, but Lola learned in utero how to plant her feet too – she is strong!  So we basically would drag Lola out, Lula would follow and then when we got to the pasture, we quickly shut the gate, and took Lola back to the stall.  That is when Lula decided to push her way through the boards and the metal gate.  So we installed an offset  hotwire and that took care of that problem.  But we realized we were making it worse by bringing the calf, and reinforcing her bad (to us, she is just a good mother) behavior.  After thinking this through a little, we decided to use Jane as the decoy calf, since Lula is concerned about her welfare too, just not quite as much.  Jane is happy to comply and bound about, which puts a little spring in Lula’s step and gives her something else to think about besides Lola.  And we added a phony electric fence wire near the pasture gate which serves as a butt rope or deterrent if she tries to turn around.  The cows hate the electric wire even if it isn’t on.  Each day as Lola gets older, Lula is relaxing a little, and improving with each milking.  And she is drop dead gentle, so I can’t complain.  And Lola hates being led around, but she will come to us willingly so she isn’t holding a grudge, and she will even bestow a calf kiss now and then. 🙂

So here is pretty much my milking routine, whether I milk or not:

Cows appreciate routine.  (Me too, maybe that’s why I like cows so much.)  So everything is the same, every day.  Same time, same procedure.  I feed Jane at the same time, so she is part of the routine, and she needs to pay attention because someday it will be her turn.  So the cues she is learning now from me and the sights, sounds and smells of milking will be imprinted on her too.

I bring out Jane’s bottle, and my milk buckets (one for washing, and one for milking.)

Tie up Lola in her stall, so I can open the gate for Lula to come in.

Put grain and hay in the stall for Lula to eat while I am milking.  This part is important, because if the cow anticipates a meal, she will 95-99% of the time urinate and defecate before coming in.  The calves are doing this also – and the beef cows do this before moving to a new paddock too.  If they have cleaned out, they are more relaxed.  Don’t believe what you read on the internet about hitting your milk cow with a bucket to “learn” her about peeing and pooping while milking.  If you have to resort to this – get your milk at the store.   Your cow is nervous and you’re probably the cause of it.  Beating her won’t help… .

Lola tied and waiting for mom.  She is tied to a eyebolt with a ring that is put in the with a bridge washer on the back side to prevent any mishaps.  Behind her there is another ring in case I want to cross tie.  With the bridge washer it is stout enough to hold a full-grown animal that is fighting being tied.  Maybe not a crazy one, but I doubt you could get a crazy one tied anyway.

Lula is waiting at the gate.  I am grazing her around the edge of the hayfield, but not using a back fence for my convenience, so she can come back to the gate.

If I have everything ready in her stall, (calf tied, gate open, feed ready) I can open the gate and she will walk to her stall.

All this going on is getting Jane juiced up, (good for her digestion) she already peed when she saw me put her bottle in the holder.  At this time, I let Jane loose and she comes to her stall to eat.

At this point I would milk, but I am only taking milk for the house in the morning, so I let Lola loose and put her on the cow on her side.  If I was milking Della I would milk her first and then put the calf on, but since I am only taking a 1/2 gallon from Lula, I milk while the calf is nursing.  I will never take more than that per milking, and I don’t plan on turning Lula into a regulation milk cow, so this is working fine.  I am a fast hand milker and Lula is an easy milker, making the actual milking the easiest part.

I leave them together for an hour or so and then I turn (read drag) the cow out to the pasture.  The calf stays in, and is tethered during the day, nursing only morning and night at “milking” time.

I have no idea how much milk Lula is actually producing, so I will take my cue from Lola’s condition to make sure we aren’t shorting her.  Meanwhile, we are glad for the milk we are getting – I won’t be churning butter, or making too many extras but that is OK for now, at least we are drinking our own milk 🙂

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Kay permalink
    June 18, 2010 1:16 am

    You are giving me so much good advice, and you didn’t even realize it! Thanks and I hope your weather improves so your garden will grow! 🙂

  2. June 18, 2010 3:52 am

    What a wonderful routine! I’ve never had a cow so this is very informative…not that we’re planning on getting a milk cow but I enjoy learning about your day. We go on a 2 week (at least) vacation every summer so it just wouldn’t work out. Lola and Jane and Lula are beautiful…such kind looking faces if a cow can look that way! I hope your weather has dried up a bit and you got your garden planted. Take care and have a wonderful day…Maura 🙂

  3. June 18, 2010 4:55 am

    we had some jersey cows when i was a kid. sarah was as lovely as a deer. i miss milking, leaning my head up against her flanks and smelling the sweet warm milk. how rainbows formed in the foamy bubbles in the bucket. of course, my forearms aren’t quite what they used to be, lol.

    if we were even a little late getting sarah to the barn, she would stand at the gate, milk dripping out of her. we only freshened her up every couple of years. if she was bred to an angus, she would invariably have a girl. if she was bred to a jersey, she’d drop a scrawny little boy. good times.

  4. June 18, 2010 5:02 am

    wonderful primer on milk cows. I, too, doubt that I’ll use this practically – but I love learning about it. Was fascinated by the idea that they will pee and poop prior to the meal….

  5. June 18, 2010 5:20 am

    So how ’bout a picture of that milk? I’d love to see how much cream you are getting from a beef cow.

  6. June 18, 2010 7:19 am

    If your garden doesn’t pan out this year, I’d gladly trade you some veggies & fruit for some Lula milk! 😉

  7. June 18, 2010 7:52 am

    Interesting to know that cows will take care of business before coming in if they know they’re getting fed. Our horses are the same way. If I start calling to them on my way to the barn they’ll take of business and come ambling in. If instead I just walk out and catch them, it’s the first thing they do in their stalls. Seems worth it to me to wait on their timetable when I’m not in a hurry.

  8. June 18, 2010 8:31 am

    Another interesting post. I doubt seriously that I’ll ever need this information but I love reading about it just the same!

  9. June 18, 2010 12:18 pm

    Those calves are just too cute and Lula is beautiful! I want to have a milk cow one day. I like reading about the details of milking and the cows daily routine. I find it interesting that they do their business before coming in too!

  10. June 18, 2010 12:32 pm

    Great post! I teach bulls (in our case) to lead the same way as I do a colt. I DON’T drag them but use pressure and release it when they take a step. Draggins beasts around is way too much work 😉 We’ve been getting lots of rain this year too but my garden seems to be liking it for a change.

  11. June 19, 2010 4:05 pm

    That is quite a routine, but you do get a nice benefit for your kitchen as well as happy calves. – Margy

  12. Emily permalink
    June 20, 2010 9:30 am

    Must say, while I love looking at and reading about Jane, Lola and Lulu, posts like this one confirm my appreciation for my goats. I love that they are smaller than I. I open the gate let one out, block the rest, and the one runs for the milk stand. Our full size buck is another story.

  13. June 21, 2010 4:49 am

    Never enough Lola pictures!

    Great note about the anticipation of the meal making them pee and poop BEFORE they come in. It’s always best to figure out how to make it easy for the animal to do the right thing.

  14. June 21, 2010 7:42 am

    I’m curious whether the calf will leave the teats on “your side” alone while you’re co-milking. I laugh as I watch our calves hit all four quarters from one side of their mamas, over and over and over. 🙂

  15. becomingherby permalink
    June 21, 2010 12:43 pm

    My darling wife and I are very much enjoying your stories of the calves. We have agreed that we want to take Jane home as a pet for a few months. We only have 1/3 acre (1200m^2) so not enough room for farm animals – but maybe we’ll fly to the US and try to smuggle Jane back anyway 😉 … Only kidding … She is very cute though.

  16. June 22, 2010 8:58 am

    I like routine also…the same old, same old, every day. Routine is good. When it gets off I can’t seem to get myself back on track for some time.


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