Friday, October 4, 2013

Difficulties milking Maggie

We're having a few problems milking Maggie.First, she moves her feet around a lot.This presents problems as she inevitably kicks the bucket of milk.Then she'll move her feet close together and it is next to impossible to get your hands on her teats to milk them.If you try to pull her legs out, she kicks.

Maggie is making things difficult

We tried to hobble one of her back legs like we do when we milk Daisy and Rosie, but she was having none of that.She went absolutely berserk.We took the hobble off before she hurt herself or us.We're going to order the following contraption from a Jeffers catalog.It is called Kow Kan't Kick, and is designed to clip over the cow's back and crank tight to control the muscles that control kicking.

Kow Kan't Kick

Problem #2.Her back teats are very, very small.They are so small that you can't get your hands around them to milk.What you have to do is 'strip' the milk out using your thumb and index finger.This characteristic is intentionally bred into animals as short teats are a positive attribute in commercial dairy cows as they use mechanical milking as opposed to hand milking like we do.Short teats fit more easily into the milking cups.They don't fit in my hands, though, and this increases the time of milking considerably.

Short teats in the back

The final problem is that Maggie is has Ketosis.This is also called Acetonaemia.It is appropriately named because her breath and her milk smells like acetone (nail polish remover).This is a common problem with milk cows and is due to a lack ofglucose (sugar) in the blood and tissues.Glucose is produced by the cow from carbohydrates eaten from the pasture.

In the last trimester, glucose is shifted toward producing the calf.Once born, lactation starts and glucose is needed for producing milk sugars and fats.This draw on the animal's stores of glucose is such that the cow becomes hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar).If the carbs are not adequate in the animal's diet to meet the glucose needs, the cow will start to rob glucose from their bodies' stores of fat.

We're treating her by feeding her extra carbs, giving her extra hay, alfalfa, and feed.We'll watch her closely and if she doesn't improve, we'll give her a series of Propylene Glycol drenches.Maggie's mother, Rosie was also susceptible to this every time she calved.One of the things that can also cause this is if the cow is overweight at the time of calving.Maggie was fat, but not overly fat.Maybe I'm just biased, though.

Ketotic Milk

Meanwhile the milk she produces has to be discarded.It is not dangerous to drink this milk.It just has an unpleasant odor and taste.(The chickens don't seem to mind it, though.)Maggie's making things difficult, but that is just one of those things.We'll keep our eyes on her closely.
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