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Dairy Cow-1st Calf-Low Milk Output?

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RickWP32

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Our Jersey/Short-horn/Holstein cross heifer had her 1st Calf Friday morning (3 days ago). We attempted 1st time milking about 8-9 hours later, but achieved only about 1 cup of output total (calve had been nursing off and on)...next attempt (15 hours later?) - we only got about 2 or 3 cups --- calf having had her free run all the time. We've gone down 3 times since (2) mornings and 1 evening
- yet we still only got about 1 quart before she was stripped dry.
Each of these times when we did the milking the Bag appeared to be large (though not anywhere nearly as large a bag as our previous milk cow--which had had 3 calves already) and certain of the teats were dripping milk...we assumed she had quite a bit let down - but not the case...she again only gave about 1 quart this last time (one of teats had been streaming milk when we went to milk her out)...
The Mother and the calf both seem healthy and fine...calf is very active and looking much better than she did at birth (small and thin at birth). The Cow shows no signs of fever nor mastitis symptoms. Bag is still firm and large when we are done stripping her out ---- but not hard.

We've NEVER dealt with a first-time heifer calving before ----- so we don't exactly know what kind of production to expect from her...nor how much to expect to get if we are allowing the calf to have free-say with nursing.

Appreciate any info can be given. -Thanks
 

novaman

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First calvers can often become nervous with the extra handling. My guess would be she isn't letting her milk down because of the nervousness. A shot of oxytocin will make her let down the milk. Eventually they become more comfortable with the routine and oxytocin is no longer necessary.
 

dun

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May be as simple as edema that will clear up in a few days to a week depending on how bad it is.
 

bigbull338

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you can also seperate her calf from her for 12hrs.an then milk her an see how much she gives.but remember to leave some for the calf.if the calf is running with her constantly.then the calf could be draining her.are you feeding her grain.
 

regolith

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And if you follow bb's suggestion, still use oxytocin - she might hold up her milk in memory of that calf! (I'd probably try milking her without first, then give her the oxytocin and a few minutes before trying again if the bag still looks big and she hasn't given much).

A few cows do only have enough for the calf for the first couple of days, but go on to produce normally.
 
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RickWP32

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Thanks for the info all...I think it is the fact that she is not letting down -- probably from nervousness the first day, now due to the calf...we caught her at a good time yesterday (calf's nursing time) and got nearly a gallon after the heifer had suckled a while...so, i think right now the solution will come when we do the partial weaning (12 hour night time)- starting that tomorrow (day 7).

I did wonder about this "oxytocin" (a hormone I assume?) you guys are mentioning -- is it safe to drink the milk after using that? I don't like administering anything to the animals themselves--unless absolutely required (i.e. mastitis or such).
Where do I get something like that if I have to?

Thanks again.
 

bigbull338

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i dont think youll have to give her anything to make her let her milk down.she will give more milk once you pen the calf away from her.an she gets used tobeing milked.
 

novaman

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RickWP32":3ck7dasn said:
Thanks for the info all...I think it is the fact that she is not letting down -- probably from nervousness the first day, now due to the calf...we caught her at a good time yesterday (calf's nursing time) and got nearly a gallon after the heifer had suckled a while...so, i think right now the solution will come when we do the partial weaning (12 hour night time)- starting that tomorrow (day 7).

I did wonder about this "oxytocin" (a hormone I assume?) you guys are mentioning -- is it safe to drink the milk after using that? I don't like administering anything to the animals themselves--unless absolutely required (i.e. mastitis or such).
Where do I get something like that if I have to?

Thanks again.
Oxytocin is a hormone naturally produced by a cow when she lets her milk down. It is a prescription so in order to get ahold of it you need to go through a vet. It is perfectly safe to drink the milk after giving a shot of oxytocin. As bb said you may not need it but I always have it on hand when I have heifers coming in fresh. Always seem to be a couple that are a bit nervous and I prefer to get them milked out within a couple days after calving.
 

chippie

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I may be misunderstanding your time line, but you should wait at least 3 days after calving before milking the cow to allow the calf to get all of the colostrum. We separate the calf from the cow after 3 days.

We keep the calf separated from the cow. The cow comes in the barn in the morning, we milk what we need, then let the calf strip her. In the evening, if we do not need milk in the house, we let the calf have all of the milk.

We've had family milk cows for over 25 years. We have registered and grade Jerseys. My husband grew up on a dairy.

I almost forgot. When we have a first time heifer, we bring her in the barn and start handling her teats and udder a couple of months before calving. We do it while she is eating. We halter break our cows too. It makes life much easier.

Good luck and post pics if you can.
 

milkmaid

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Sounds like you got everything under control now.

Have to disagree with chippie btw -- I've got cows here that will peak at 7-10 gallons/day on a good lactation; they need to be milked out within 24 hours or you risk ruining the udder and ruining the cow. Only way I'd ever leave a dairy cow 3 days without being milked was if she was a downer, and you often have to deal with mastitis after that.

Also, colostrum quality declines rapidly after calving, so you'd be better off to milk the cow early to get the best colostrum, then warm it up and feed it to the calf if you're insistent on feeding colostrum for 3 days.
 

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