Milk cow questions

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kentuckyguy

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I’m looking at purchasing my first family milk cow. I have pretty much made up my mind to go with a Jersey unless someone can convince me there’s a better option.
I’m planning to milk once a day and let the calf have her the other half.
Looking pretty hard at getting ultimate EZ Milker.

Anyone have any advice for me before I start making purchases?
Would I be better off with a beefxdairy cow? Any Milker that you would recommend over the ultimate EZ?
 

farmerjan

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A beef dairy cross will make a fine family milk cow.... I have 2 jer/hol that I put calves on and sometimes milk... 2 jer/ang that are just for raising one calf and have too much milk early on for the calf... sometimes will put a 2nd calf on and then grain a bit for the first 60-90 days so the calves get plenty and they do not lose too much weight...1 jer/simmental cross that raises her calf, 1 jer/limousin cross that is on a dairy that does okay... have had several hol/hereford crosses that have calf shared a few times in the past...
I have heard more bad than good about the EZE milker... but I have only ever hand milked my own or milked on commercial farms so one end of the spectrum to the other...By the time you do all the clean up, you would be better off to milk by hand and then only have to worry about the bucket and the jars.... for just one cow... a milker is alot of work except if your hands just don't "work" (arthritis or something)....
Most straight dairy cows will make enough milk for 2-4 calves... so milking and giving the cow her own calf may very well not be enough...
 
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Son of Butch

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I’m looking at purchasing my first family milk cow. I have pretty much made up my mind to go with a Jersey unless someone can convince me there’s a better option.
Anyone have any advice for me before I start making purchases?
Get hands on with any cow for a family milk cow before you buy her.
Jersey is a fine choice, but don't buy just because she's a Jersey or looks tame in the pasture. Handle her first to see how she reacts to you. The individual cow is more important for a family cow than the specific breed. Any dairy x beef cow that allows you to easily handle her would also be a good choice, but know that even some 1/2 Holstein x beef cows can produce a lot of milk. IF she looks more holstein than beef pass.
 

mtchick

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I don't think the Ultimate EZ milker has pulsation and will wreck the cows udder. Do some looking on google and get something with pulsation. The Hantop is small and cheep, also Simple Pulse. I don't think either have the weight to milk a cow out properly, but if calf sharing it won't matter as much.
 

Lannie

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I don't know why everyone seems to think a Jersey is the only breed to have for a milk cow. ALL cows make milk. I've only ever had beef/dairy crosses, and I couldn't be happier. A good friend of mine milked a Hereford cow for years, and she was sweet and gentle and gave wonderful, rich milk. I know lots of people with Jerseys that end up with problems (too much milk, metabolic issues, needing LOTS of supplemental feed, etc.) that I never have. I live in South Dakota, though, and our winters are harsh. I'd have to keep a Jersey in the house with me during the winter. My beef crosses (Jersey crossed with Hereford or Angus) are tough, hardy girls that overwinter just fine here, raise a big fat calf for me every year on a grass/hay diet only, and give PLENTY of very delicious milk for me to drink, make cheese and butter, etc. I went with a Jersey/Hereford cross for my first cow BECAUSE I was new to cows and didn't want a lot of problems, but I had such good results with her and all her progeny, I don't think I'd ever want a pure Jersey. And that is my very biased opinion, but it's been formed over 14 years, so I have learned a few things along the way. ;)

You're in Kentucky, though, so winters wouldn't be such an issue with your cow. Just be aware that a Jersey will make a LOT of milk, and a calf won't be able to take enough for you to milk only once a day, at least for a few months. Not milking her out fully could (not will, but could) lead to mastitis, and that's just an ongoing pain in the butt if it happens.

As far as that EZ-Milker, if it's the hand-squeeze thing with the jar and the large plastic syringes for cups, just don't. They only suck, there's no pulsation, and if used on a regular basis, can ruin a cow's teats. If you can hand milk, do. If you have to have a machine, pop for a good one with a pulsator, a pump, a balance tank, etc. They're expensive, but they last forever and are worth their weight in gold. I have arthritis in my thumbs, so I can no longer hand milk. I have a Surge belly milker with a Gast oil-less pump that I've been using for the past 11 years and have had zero problems with. Yes, I have to wash it when I'm done, but at least I can still milk my cows. Without it, I wouldn't be able to. And it doesn't take much more time to wash it up than it would to hand milk and wash the pail.

OK, I just looked up the Ultimate EZ-milker, which is the same as the Udderly-EZ (the bad one I talked about above) but with a pump so you don't have to hand squeeze to get suction. But it doesn't pulsate, and while the lady in the video I saw said it works great on her goats, I would never use it on a cow, but it's up to you. Constant suction with no release every second isn't good for teat or udder health (and I think a Jersey would make way too much milk for one of those, anyway - you're probably going to get 3 to 4 gallons a day her first year and significantly more in subsequent years).

Here's a pretty good video showing how to use a belly milker. I really like this style of milker - it's easy to use and easy to clean up afterward.

Sheesh, I forgot the link, duh. Here:
 

Son of Butch

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I don't know why everyone seems to think a Jersey is the only breed to have for a milk cow. I've only ever had beef/dairy crosses, and I couldn't be happier. I don't think I'd ever want a pure Jersey.
Good advice Lannie.
Modern genetics have increased milk production so much that the average cow of any dairy breed produces more milk than what most individuals would want for a family cow. A Hereford x Jersey or Guernsey would be an excellent choice for a family cow. We've never had a family cow, but I would recommend a beef x dairy cross cow.
 

puzzled in oregon

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Very well stated Lannie. A lot of people underestimate the volume of milk even a first calf Jersey heifer can produce. There are other breeds that make good family cows, Guernsey, Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorn any of which would be nice crossed with beef, a bit big maybe :)
The other thing is, what some of these breeds are today compared to yesterday. Some breeders get so fixated with one quality within a breed, they lose other essential qualities. One of the full Jersey cows we had as our family cow would easily produce 5-6 gallons a day during the first part of milking cycle, she was on grass pasture and would have gotten some grain when she came in to get milked(twice a day) and easily maintained good body weight. We also used the beef/dairy cross which had several advantages. Do you remember the Durham cows :)

Once a day milking, can cause more than one problem.
 

Son of Butch

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Once a day milking is fine, if you have a calf on her with no high energy feedings.

IF you want to knock the milk production out of her, pen her with the calf for a day with no water for 24 hours or 2 days without water in the same week if need be, lack of water will knock the milk production out of most any cow.
 
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kentuckyguy

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Thanks for all the info. This has been very helpful.
Looks like the EZ Milker is a no go. I will probably just hand milk or get a surge Milker.
I just didn’t wanna have to wash as much equipment.
With most of the dairies here being long gone it kind of comes down to availability on milk cows. I just wanted a smaller cow with high butterfat for making butter so I thought Jersey was a good fit.
 

Son of Butch

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Thanks for all the info. This has been very helpful.
Looks like the EZ Milker is a no go. I will probably just hand milk or get a surge Milker.
Several companies make milk machines with bucket that sits on the floor away from the cow, handy if she kicks, Delaval and Universal are 2 that come to mind.
Highly recommended over Surge bucket that requires the milker strap for hanging.
 

bigbluegrass

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I have had a Jersey family milk cow for about 13 years now. I milk once a day and share milk with the calf. It has worked well for me. I am on my 3rd Jersey milk cow now. I have not had many problems with too much milk or mastitis and haven't had any milk fever yet. First cow lived to over 7 years old (6 lactations). The last cow lived to 11 (died 3 weeks before starting her 8th lactation). Third cow is on her second lactation. I do breed my replacement cows for lower milk and genetics that work for a family milk cow. I usually breed to beef breeds if I don't need a replacement milk cow (all AI). You probably would not have the same results if you pulled a cow out of a commercial dairy.

I hand milked the first cow for about 6 years. The second cow wasn't as nice to hand milk, so I ended up with a vacuum pump and milking machine. Milking machine was pretty similar to this one: https://hambydairysupply.com/rebuil...t-milker-with-grade-a-stainless-steel-bucket/

I found a pump locally I was able to make work. I put the parts and pieces together and did get it to work. But I will say, there are a lot of little ins and outs that I learned along the way. If you can find one already set up, you might just want to buy a complete system.

It is easier to wash a bucket and strainer rather than a milker, but it isn't a huge difference in time. Once you get the process down, it goes pretty quickly.

That is my personal experiences. I would not have a problem milking a beefxdairy cow.
 

puzzled in oregon

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Several companies make milk machines with bucket that sits on the floor away from the cow, handy if she kicks, Delaval and Universal are 2 that come to mind.
Highly recommended over Surge bucket that requires the milker strap for hanging.
We always hand milked our family cow. But once we started doing the dairy, we used the Universal floor unit and it worked well,
then we transitioned to the pipeline after I kept whining about packing buckets of milk 60' to pour into the milk tank 😒
 

Redgully

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Thanks for all the info. This has been very helpful.
Looks like the EZ Milker is a no go. I will probably just hand milk or get a surge Milker.
I just didn’t wanna have to wash as much equipment.
With most of the dairies here being long gone it kind of comes down to availability on milk cows. I just wanted a smaller cow with high butterfat for making butter so I thought Jersey was a good fit.
Lots of people around here keep dexters for house cows but from my observations you need to find a very good breeder who knows what they are doing with genetics and temperament. Was talking to a guy with a herd of dexters who had a limousin bull get in and breed some of his cows, said not one had a problem calving to him.
 

Hereford2

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We've milked beef cow's, beef/dairy crosses, Jersey's, Dexter's, Brown Swiss,. You can breed a jersey to anything, they get Mastitis easier than the other breeds we've had, jersey cows are generally gentle, But they can produce 3to7 gallons of milk a day, out of 3 quarters, more if they have all 4 quarter's working, just depends on the cow, you have to be careful about milk fever with them,. Buy a cow that's Gentle with you (before you buy it ...) Dexter cattle to much attitude and kicking for my taste, (I'm sure there's gentle ones). Beef cow's and beef crosses gentle minimal kicking, (best if bottle raised). Brown swiss Big Gentle, eat a Lot, produce 3to8 gallons a day depending on the cow. Hard to find, Expensive to buy Our favorite so far are the Brown Swiss, then the Jersey. Also if you are going to hand milk buy a hand exercise ball and squeeze it like you are milking a cow for a month or so before you buy a cow, your hands will thank you (speaking from experience)...
 
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kentuckyguy

kentuckyguy

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Seems like most of the jerseys I find are only good in 3 quarters. Kinda seems strange that so many have this issue
 

Travlr

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When I was a kid there was a guy up the road from us that milked several Angus. He was the only guy in the valley with Angus at the time.

I know butterfat can be important, but I have no clue which beef breed has the most. If you only need a gallon of milk or less a day I can't see how any decent beef cow would not be able to do that for you. Leave the calf on her and when you need milk separate them for 4 to 6 hours.
 

farmerjan

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In all the years milk testing, I have seen proportionately more holsteins as 3 quartered cows... BUT, most dairy farmers do not keep them around very long unless they are making 75-100 lbs a day out of 3 teats. I have not found my jerseys to be more prone to mastitis than any other breed... Overall, the jersey/holstein crosses have worse udders... poor center and rear ligament support which makes for crappy udders after 3-4 lactations. And every farmer that I have tested for over the years has pretty much agreed with that.
The jersey/angus ones are pretty nice udders... make good milk and not that hard to deal with. Hereford crossed with dairy, most that I have experience with have been hereford/holsteins... disposition has been real decent . But the herefords can throw some less than desireable udders. Beef cattle milk often runs in the 4.5to 7% butterfat range... so high fat. Many of the holsteins that I test now will run 3.5 to 4.5 fat.. they have improved the "quality" over the "quantity" mentality .....
I am not a big fan of Brown Swiss... they are stubborn, but not mean... but they just eat too much for the return... and I find their butterfat no better than the jerseys or guernseys. I personally like my guernseys, but they have been bred so far off the old type that they are "frail" and not very "livable"... they tried to get more and more production and lost the old "coarse, raw boned, sturdy " milk cow.... they never made a ton of milk and were just not designed for it...
The thing is you have to find one that has a good disposition... likes to be hand milked if that is the route you are going to go....and that milks easily...
And @Hereford2 has a great suggestion.... get your hand and wrist muscles developed or you will "die" for the first couple of weeks hand milking.... I went from milking 2 to milking 4 when I bought 2 guernseys at a dispersal sale... and thought my hands were going to fall off before I got them all milked out the first week or so. I even named the one cow Patience... because she never got "antsy", as the last cow to be milked.... when I had to keep resting my hands or just would milk with one hand, switching to the other every 10 "squirts" towards the end of the milking because I was so tired and sore...

I want to breed one of mine to a Dutch belted... the Lineback are good beefy built milking cattle and the Montebeliarde are nice beefy built milking cattle too...
 

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