Once-a-day, shared, part-time, whatever you call it – milking when you want/need milk is perfect for us and may be for you. Shared milking is simply allowing the calf to stay with and nurse from momma while you take what you want. Momma cow will make enough for both of you.
I have to admit my first run at milking once a day was not successful. We bought Daisy a few months after she had calved and she was used to being milked twice a day. Following bits of online advice, I was able to find I slowly moved her milkings closer together to finally cut her down to once a day. I was told that her production would drop a bit but that is not what happened. Her production dropped and kept dropping to where I just dried her up since I was only getting a few cups a day only six months after she calved – definitely not worth the time and effort.
This spring once Daisy calved I promised myself to give it a go again and now eight months later I am still getting a gallon each milking. So what did I do differently? I have Daisy’s calf! And, I have left her with Daisy – we share the milk. When Patty Cake (the calf) was born, we left the two together. I milked colostrum to put in the freezer and Patty Cake got the rest. For the first month I didn’t separate the two – Patty Cake and I worked side-by-side, she got all she wanted and needed and so did I.
I think this helped us bond as well as I could reach across and give her a pet as she nursed. As she grew older, I waited until she nursed then I would finish up or put her in a pen, milk, then turn her loose. After a couple months of this routine, I started just locking her up in the evening and letting her out with her momma after I milked in the morning. It took a couple months of doing it this way for Daisy to fully let her milk down for me. Throughout this whole process I only took a gallon leaving the rest for Patty Cake. She grew like a weed!
During the summer months we purchased a mini-zebu (Beulah), though a year old, she decided she wanted some Daisy milk too! Daisy and Patty Cake readily accepted her, and I let her nurse from Daisy since she was so thin. I am thinking that Patty Cake took to the idea of sharing her momma’s milk so easily since she had been sharing with me since she was born.
Beulah when we first brought her home, and right, Beulah nursing.
Beulah – finally a bit of weight on her!
We are closing in on nine months since Patty Cake was born and I still get a gallon of milk a day – when I milk. Patty Cake and the Zebu both still nurse a bit in the mornings after I milk. I milk most days, but there are times, like this morning when it's so cold that I just don’t have it in me to milk so I let the little ones have it all and I’m grateful that I haven’t yet figured out how to wean them! I will let nature take its course and Daisy will eventually kick them off or I will be forced to separate them in preparation for the new calf growing in Daisy. In the meantime, Daisy and I are raising happy, healthy calves!