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Milking on the Farm
 Sue putting cluster on teats

The herd of cows at White Horse farm consists of 35 milking cows, 9 in-calf heifers and 5 baby heifer calves so far!  The cows are mainly Friesian Holstein but there are also a couple of Guernsey’s, a couple of shorthorn and two young Brown Swiss. The cows at the farm are the main income producers.   

 Zip rounding up the cows for milking

Zip rounding up the cows for milking

The cows are milked twice a day through a 6/4 abreast parlour. This means that the cows come into the parlour and find an empty milking space where they step up onto a "standing" a platform or concrete plinth and wait to be milked. They are given a feed according to the amount of milk they give which they eat while they are milking. I then wash their udder, this is the area under the cow where the milk is produced, and dry it before placing the cluster on the cow. The noise that the parlour makes is a gentle "pushh cu" this is the rhythm of the cluster sucking the milk from the cow’s udder. Once the cows have given all of their milk I take the cluster off dip the cow with a cleanser and release her from the parlour, she then can walk back to the field in the summer or back to the cubicle in the winter. The milking takes approximately one hour to complete and it is the one job on the farm that I personally love. The sweet smell of the cows and the methodical routine and sounds make it a very relaxing time, even in the winter when it is blowing a gale and raining "buckets" my little parlour is warm and dry and pleasant!
 

 Hannah helps by cleaning the teats ready for the cluster.

Hannah helps by cleaning the teats ready for the cluster.

The milking cow- our cows calve for the first time at about three and a half years old. They may calve to the Limousin bull that runs with the cows called "Tim" or to artificial insemination preformed by me "Sue!” Once calved she is brought into the parlour and treated as a cow, if she is quiet that is great I can manage but usually they are ticklish and kick! There is a need for some male strength then and Andrew has that unfortunate job, surprisingly they conform fairly quickly realising that the milking releases the pressure from their udder and the feed is good!
Milking established the cow joins the normal running of the herd. She is "put back "in calf after 6 weeks, well we try, once we are sure she is in calf she will remain milking for another 6 to7 months after which she will be dried off, to do this we insert some antibiotics into the teat canal to stop infection and the cow is allowed to rest build up her weight and relax before starting the process all over again. It is maybe not the best life but if she does not produce milk and to do that she has to have a calf, she will be killed as a barrener and that is surely worse. As the carers of these amazing animals we must make sure that they do their job of producing the milk in an environment that the cow is happy, and yes they must be happy, relaxed well fed and in a routine. Stressed cows will not come into the parlour let alone milk, if you are not careful with our cows you will get crushed in the rush to get in the parlour so I am sure they are happy!