Milking Livestock

Posted on 2023-08-07

[EJ] Good morning all! I have to ask about cow milk again. How is it done? I mean the steps from udder to table when one has a milking cow?

[JT] There isn’t a major series of steps here.  If you don’t have a milk pump you need to do it by hand.  Wash the tests first, and basically a stainless steel milk bucket is needed and you need to make sure you don’t cut milking short, as doing so will risk mastitis and reduce future production.   But all you really need to do is filter the milk to remove any debris, pour into food grade (preferably glass) containers/jars and refrigerate.

Since not pasteurized it may have limited shelf life, but the great thing is you can use for butter, cream, sour cream etc.   The cream will separate.  Either skim to use for other things or just mix it in for good, healthy whole milk.

[EJ] Thank you, JT! What about TB? Someone told me that there’s this risk but I think if the cow is healthy, there isn’t a problem.

And if the cow isn’t ill at all, how could TB be in there?

[JT] The TB thing, in my personal opinion, is an overblown scare tactic that harkens back to a time where sanitation both at farms and among the hired worker population led to a few outbreaks in the milk supply. I grew up in a community of dairy farms where all the families drank raw milk and never once heard of any issues related to TB or anything else.  The main thing to watch for is signs of infection.  Not overly common but it can happen.  You’d notice the issue though, so not something to be concerned about if you’re paying attention.  But I’m neither a doctor nor an OSHA official so take that for what it’s worth.

[EJ] Thank you! That makes perfect sense.

[LB] TB has largely been eliminated in cows in the Inited States.

After we battled a bout of staph A in one of the cows we hand milked, we switched to milking with disposable gloves or pretreating our hands with a teat dip to make sure they were clean. The gloves were nice in the winter, adding just a little bit of warmth when it was -20*.

Here’s a great pro board site for anyone interested in keeping a family cow. It’s a great place to learn and ask questions.

[EJ] Thank you, LB!

[DB] We have a Nigerian dwarf goat we milk. It’s a little easier to keep than a cow in our limited space.

We do have a “strip cup” that is used to identify infections. If they have an infection, there will be solids that get caught in the screen over the cup. I don’t think my son uses it anymore, though.

Also, you should not keep the first couple pulls as they are from the udder itself and its opening where there is more bacteria. This is what you’d catch in the strip cup.

I’m assuming milking a cow is similar to a goat.

[LB] How much milk does your Nigerian dwarf give per day?

[EJ] I read an article on them. They average a quart a day and have high [butter fat]. … They’ll need a goat buddy, and the males are very stinky. Oooh! But are lovable.

[DB] When she was first in milk, it was more than a quart a day. It’s less now, between 2-3 cups. We’ve been milking her continuously for 2 years or so?

We have two does, only one in milk and a buck and wether (castrated male). The buck is kinda smelly. Not too bad I don’t think.

[LB] 2-3 years on a goat is amazing! Goats are considered to be seasonal milkers and typically go for nine months.


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