Pictures of calm milking cows are very nice to look at. A well-dressed lady, fresh from the salon, is seated in a nice clean dress, smiling at the camera while milking a cow ever so easily. In real life, however, those of us who raise cows will eventually have to deal with a wild one that won’t let her calf feed and that would kick that lady to pieces if she tried that. What should we do with the kicking cow?
First, we have to break this situation down into two different issues and deal with them separately:
1. Feeding the Calf
We have to make sure the baby calf receives the nourishment he/she needs to grow and thrive. There is no need to have that nourishment come from the calf drinking from the mother’s teats. That’s the overall goal, but it’s not necessary. It would be better to bottle-feed the calf the milk from another cow if possible. (That’s why we’d never keep a single milk cow.) Make sure the calf gets 1/2 gallon of fresh warm milk morning and evening and then you can be sure the calf is taken care of. If you keep more than one cow so that breeding times are close together, you can be sure that colostrum will always be available from more than one cow–you can even breed your good old milk cows as week before ones you’re unsure of for this purpose.
2. Getting the Cow Milking
If a nasty, 800 lb cow doesn’t want her calf or you to touch her teats, she’s going to kick your face off. An occasional kick is normal, but I’m talking about a cow that does not let you milk her and gets nastier the more you try.
The cow, regardless of how un-cow-like she’s acting, needs to have the milk removed from her udders for her own health’s sake if for nothing else. So, we need to get that milk out. Once we start milking her regularly, she’ll calm down and realize we’re not going to harm her at all.
What you need to do is get the cow’s head locked into a milking stanchion with her body alongside a wall of any kind. Then, get a rope tied around her legs, just above what called the “hocks”, or what non-farm folks might consider the knees of the back legs. The rope should be behind her milk bag and tight above the hocks because if the rope is below the hocks, she’ll be able to get it off if she wants to. Tight above the hocks isn’t coming off. You can either have someone hold that right tight from behind her with upward pressure on it to keep it above the hocks, or you can tie it off to a post or fence rail.
Once her head is locked in and her legs thus tied, you can milk her. She might fuss around and try to kick, but she won’t be able to kick. You can milk her out and feed her milk to her calf if you want. You could try to bring the calf to her while she’s tied up, but it’s more important that you just get the milk out and get the calf fed.