I have been hand milking Gertie, our family milk cow, for over 1 month now. I thoroughly enjoy our time together when I am milking her. The Farm Kids love to come out with me and
watch help me milk. Farmer Derek always comes out too when he is home at milking time. Milking really isn’t hard to do once you get the hang of it. The hardest part is building up your hand and arm muscles. Be sure to drink lots of milk to keep you from getting sore muscles!
You use the same technique when milking cows or goats (and perhaps sheep?). I used to milk goats with my friend when I was a teenager so I knew what I was getting into beforehand. I guess a teat is a teat!
Here is how to hand milk a cow or a goat
First, I use a rag that is wet with warm water to clean the udder and teat. You want to be sure that all of the dirt, manure, and debris is cleaned off. You don’t want any of that getting into your milk. This warm rag also help Gertie to let down her milk. I don’t think Gertie would appreciate a cold rag very much!
Next, I grasp the top of the teat with my thumb and index finger trapping the milk in the teat canal.
Then I gently but firmly squeeze the rest of my fingers on the teat to squirt it into my bucket. Important: DO NOT pull or tug on the teat. I only do about 3-4 squirts at first so I can inspect the milk to be sure there are no clumps or anything off about it. The first couple of squirts also contain the highest bacterial count so it is a good idea to dump those out.
After that I just continue to milk in this manner until Gertie is out of milk. I use a small 2qt pail to milk into. Once it is about 3/4 full I pour the milk into my large pail that is lined with a mesh strainer.
Towards the end of the milking her teat will not refill as quickly. At the very end of milking I coerce the remaining milk into the teat with a gently massaging motion.
Once she is emptied out completely I let her go. I always make sure that she is completely milked out so that she does not get mastitis or her production does not go down. Milk in livestock is much like in a human, supply and demand. You can tell the udder is empty because it looks and feels empty.
Once I am done milking I
slather gently rub on my homemade udder balm.
That is all there is to it. Once you get used to it, you fall into a nice rhythm and just enjoy the company of your cow while you milk.
Want to learn more about a family cow? Here are some more of my posts about them:
- How to Build an Elevated Milking Stanchion
- How to Prepare for a Family Milk Cow (on a tight budget)
- Milking Mia (how to machine milk)
Here is my youtube video on how to hand milk: