Whether you’re a beginning homesteader or an experienced farmer, it’s good to get back to the basics. These step-by-step instructions along with charming illustrations (see Image Gallery) will teach you how to milk a cow, how a milking machine works and how to pasteurize your own milk. This excerpt is taken from Farm Anatomy (Storey Publishing, 2011) by Julia Rothman.
How to milk a cow
• First make sure your fingernails are clipped and your hands are clean. Then clean the cow’s teats with soapy warm water.
• Position yourself on a low stool with a bucket between your legs.
• Starting on the right side, hold one teat in each hand.
• Begin applying pressure with your thumb and pointer finger and then continue squeezing downward with the rest of the fingers.
• Milk one teat at a time, alternating between your two hands.
• Point the stream into the bucket. When the teats are finished they will feel soft and flat. Then move on to milk the other two quarters.
Cows need to be milked twice a day at 12-hour intervals.
Milking machines are used to milk large numbers of cows more efficiently. You can milk more cows in much less time using the machine. It takes about 15-20 minutes to milk a cow by hand. It takes about 5 minutes with a machine.
Using teat cups, the machine simulates the suction of a nursing calf. The milk is sucked up tubes into a collection bucket.
To prolong shelf life, milk is pasteurized. You can buy a home pasteurizing machine, or for small amounts you can use your stove top. Heat milk to 145-165° F and keep heating for 30 more seconds. Cool quickly.
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Excerpted from Farm Anatomy, text and illustrations (c) by Julia Rothman, used with permission from Storey Publishing.