Mastitis and My Milkman

I’m in love with my milkman.  I could go into tales of intrigue and mystery, as of course my husband does not even read my dumpy blog, still, it wouldn’t be that believable. Most of you know he is my part time milkman.  One thing for sure, you do not criticize milking technique or second guess a Dutch milkman who grew up on a small dairy farm and milked for many, many farmers all around Holland.  He really is amazing.  I certainly don’t want our milking relationship to be like this.

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But alas, the proof is that when he has part time milked for the last two months, Annabelle gets mastitis and it takes me a week of milking to clear her up.  To be fair, since she never had a calf this year to nurse, that does change the equation for this time of year.  Actually this was the first time he had to milk all by himself here, as usually when he is here I get the milking pan and everything  ready, he speed milks and then hands off the milk for me to strain and clean everything.  My first clue that all was not well with milking while I was gone for 10 days was that there was not much milk in the refrigerator. hmmmm.

My second clue was the night I got home, I strained the milk and was horrified at the state of mastitis, clumps in her milk, which was a mystery to the milkman and his milk-maid strainer.  I had planned to dry up Annabelle last week, as her calf is due around June 1, now I needed to wait at least a week in hopes I could clear her of mastitis.

This is how we strain the milk.

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Since Annabelle’s production is not very high, is ready to be dried up and has no calf on her, it takes much longer, with gentle coaxing for her to let her milk down, to milk her completely out.  My milkman can win the olympics in speed milking, which in this case is no compliment.  hmmm, enough said.  Take note all you milkmen out there. 😉

He is so fast that he thinks she is empty, but she is not.

Dear Annabelle was bought on November 14, 2011 as an emergency replacement nurse cow for our baby Becca whose mama Gert had suddenly died on Nov. 8th (milk fever or grass tetany.)  She is 12 years old now.

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She had never been hand milked, so my milkman got a fence panel and pushed her up against the shed wall.

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I was scared that on her first milking she did not give even a half gallon, but she had been in the trailer for 5 hours the day before, so that put off her production.

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The next morning when he milks her, she is back up to about two gallons, and it is time to see if she will let Becca nurse. We had been giving her a bottle of raw milk, since her mama died, I gratefully got from our friend’s raw dairy.

Baby Becca was overjoyed, Annabelle not so much. Even though she loves her, Annabelle never would let Becca nurse off of her on her own. We would milk her out partway with her head tied, and then let Becca nurse her out the rest of the way. Invariably Annabelle would poop on Becca’s head everyday. 🙂 (click on video)

Here is an example of Dutch speed milking. (click on video)

Sometimes on very cold mornings, there will be tiny lumps in the milk, and of course the first time I saw these, I was panicked it was mastitis.  Here is the difference.  On these types of tiny lumps, they will melt like butter when you touch them.  Actually it is butterfat that has turned into butter because it is so cold.

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Summer before last Annabelle got mastitis also, but she had a calf on her, which helps.  I had to milk her three times a day down the valley, and it took about a week to clear her up.  This is what clumps of mastitis look like, and when you rub them between your fingers, they will not melt like butter but are like clumps of melted cheese.

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I milked her out completely and her left front quarter had a slight hard spot and very visible clumps came out of that quarter.  I milked each quarter into separate jars, as I wanted to see how each one was affected.

The back two quarters were completely clean and the milk filtered quickly using just one filter.  The front two quarters filtered very slowly, and I had to use five or six filters on less than a quart of milk. After the first day of me milking her dry, there have been no more clumps, but the milk in her front two quarters left a slimy film in the filter for a few days.

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I have been diligently milking her out for five days and her front quarters are all clear now. Last night was the last time I will milk her, as now that she is clear of mastitis, I am drying her up to rest her for her calf due in the beginning of June.

Just in time, as yesterday everyone tried to get across the river, as they do every year about this time, and it is scary wading across, or over a melting snow bridge to get her back for milking.

This was March 12, 2012. (click on video)

Next I will show how I milk her completely out, not that he will read it. haha.

6 thoughts on “Mastitis and My Milkman

  1. Pingback: Twice a Day Milking a Once a Day Cow | grassfood.

  2. Pingback: Drying up Annabelle | grassfood.

  3. I hear ya sista! My milkman is pretty good at stripping a cow and the master of dealing with every kind of problem/situation that arises. But….do you think I can get him to really wash his hands well, wash and brush the cow well, apply salves etc.? Noooo. The very rare occasion that he has to milk for me I usually share all that milk with the chickens/pigs/dogs/cats…

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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