Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hand Milking and Home Pasteurization

Hand Milking and Home Pasteurization
Milk is considered the near perfect food. It is full of vitamins and minerals we all need. It also contains fat which is needed for the maximum absorption of calcium. Having 2 to 3 acres of pasture for a milk cow is worth the investment. The pasture in many areas can sustain the cow with little supplementation needed. In some areas, one will only need two months of full forage stored away for the winter. Your cow can provide fresh milk 10 months a year with two months off to tend her new calf annually.

A family cow provides much. Milk can be "canned" as other foods (best used for cooking) or it can be frozen. Unsalted butter can also be frozen. One can obtain fresh cream, butter, yogurt, ice cream, and a variety of homemade cheeses. Also, the mother cow will be giving her calves of which the females can be trained to be gentle milkers and sold for a very good price. The young bulls not needed for breeding can be used for meat. Some of the diary bulls are prized for the quality of beef they give.

Cows need quiet and calm during their milking. They need to be milked twice a day on a regular schedule (typically every 12 hours) so they are producing efficiently and healthily. Cleanliness is of paramount importance to the cow's health and to those who consume her milk. Routine effort must be made to prevent mastitis. The milk from an infected cow is not safe to drink.

The cow and her attendant need a well known station for milking each day. The cow will learn to come for her treats, at which gate to wait for you, and what to expect from the process. Routine and calm is what she and her calf will need.

Some are able to milk their cow without any restraint. Others use various forms of stalls and/or gates to hold the head of the cow as well as the cow as a whole. When selecting a cow, make sure she is gentle and watch her being milked at least once. Never milk your cow from inside a stall as it can pin you against the boards with its body. Milking stalls have a board removed near the bottom but not the bottom board where the attendant can hold the pail and milk from the outside of the stall.

I recommend using at least a halter and to tether her to a post next to her fodder so she may eat while being groomed and milked. Also, have food for the calf to enjoy while it waits for its mother. It is also a good idea to tie her back legs together. Cows do kick hard. You will need a sturdy stool and a clean stainless steel buck to hold her milk. Once experienced, it will take about 10-15 minutes to milk her. Jersey cows can typically produce anywhere from 5 gallons to 10 gallons of milk a day. The sale of unprocessed milk is governed by each state and/or locality. Check with your county extension for the legal requirements involved.

How to milk a cow by hand:

1. Brush the cow on the side from which you will be milking to remove loose hair.

2. Wash hands carefully.

3. With a bucket of warm water and a clean cloth, wash the cow's udder and teats. With a dry cloth, dry the udder and teats thoroughly. The motion of washing will help the cow with her 'letdown' response. Use gentle rubbing and bumping from underneath as a calf might do. Do not use the same wash cloth or drying cloth on another cow. Each cow must have their own clean cloths.

4. Trim any long hair on the udder or around the teats and wipe clean and dry.

5. Dip the cow's teats for 30 seconds or as instructions direct with an iodine solution designed especially for milking cows.

6. Wipe away all the iodine solution with a single-service paper towel and dispose of the towel.

7. Wash hands with soap and water and dry if needed.

8. Check the milk with a process called stripping. Wrap the thumb and index finger around the top of a teat and gently squeeze in order with each following finger onto the ground. If the milk is with clots, stringy or watery, then infection is present and the milk is not potable. Do this with each of the four teats. If you have two or more cows, milk the infected cow(s) last and dispose of their milk. They must be milked as usual while infected to speed both their healing and to retain their productivity. Normally, the cow will need antibiotics so check with your veterinarian for assistance.

9. Sometimes your hands or the cow's teats will need a moisturizer. You can use plain vaseline on your hands and a moisturizer specifically designed for the cow's udder and teats.

10. Once the cow is clean and the milk is verified as safe, you can start milking making sure your hands are truly clean again.

11. The placement of the bucket is important as the cow can kick it over. Some place it under the udder and some beside the cow. Others hold the bucket beside the cow and between their feet - watch to avoid being stepped upon. Others hold the bucket in their lap and direct the teats towards the bucket. Stay safe and protect your good product.

12. Now for the basic milking technique. Wrap your hands around the top of two of the four teats on a diagonal from each other. The back of the udder holds more milk and you want to relieve pressure so that the weight of the milk remains even in the udder. It is important that the teats and udder are not stretched out of shape. So choose one front teat and one back teat that are on opposite sides of the cow.

13. Squeeze the top of the teat with your thumb and index finger. Squeeze your fingers in order from the index on down to your pinky. Keep your grip at the top of the teat so milk does not flow back into the teat which can lead to infection. Do not jerk or yank the teats but gently direct them to spurt the milk into the bucket. Stay gentle yet firm. Keep watching for any signs of mastitis. As a beginner, you might want to just use one hand at time as you learn.

14. Milk until it appears that the udder is deflated where you have milked. Feel the udder gently to become acquainted with how it feels at the end of its milking session. You want to take all the milk possible without completely drying the udder. You will over time begin to recognize the point when to stop milking. Now move to milk the next teat or teats.

15. You can become tired and need a break. It is best not to take a break as the cow can become restless and the milk letdown can decrease. Just work as well as you can. If you need to rest, gently speak and pat the cow.

16. After you have milked your cow and secured your milk, dip her teats again with the iodine solution for 30 seconds for each teat up unto its very top. This time leave the iodine on the teats. This is an important aide in the prevention of mastitis as mud and manure are frequently splashed onto the cow. The solution is also washing away the residual milk in/on the teat which also leads to infection.

17. Keep the teat dip cups clean and ready for the next use. Never return any remaining dip to its original container but simply dispose of the left over dip. Wash your cloths and buckets for the next milking. Keep the buckets and cups turned upside down to keep out debris. Use a clean store room or your kitchen for storing and drying your towels, buckets, and cups.

Home Pasteurization of Milk:

Many enjoy the flavor of raw milk and the health benefits it provides. However, children and others with low immune resistance are at risk of serious infection. A number of harmful and lethal diseases can be transmitted by raw milk. It is easy to pasteurize milk on your stove top though. Pasteurization of milk is also needed for a number of cheeses too.

Here are the simple steps to pasteurizing your fresh milk.

1. Strain the milk through a colander or funnel lined with several layers of cheese cloth. This removes hair and other debris.

2. Pour the raw milk into a stainless steel pot or a stainless double boiler. Clip a food thermometer to the side of the pan making sure its tip does not touch the bottom of the pan.

3. Slowly heat the milk to 145°F for exactly 30 minutes; stirring as needed to prevent scalding. The milk must be held at 145°F for 30 minutes or the heating time must start at zero again once 145°F is re-established. You can also use the quick method and heat the milk slowly to 161°F to 165°F for 30 seconds. This temperature range must be maintained for the full 30 seconds while stirring to prevent scalding.

4. After the milk has been heated as required. Place the pot into a sink filled with cold water and ice. Stir constantly to cool the milk. You want the milk to cool to 40 F within 20 minutes. Add ice to the water as needed to keep the cooling down in process.

5. Store the cooled milk in the refrigerator. It can keep up to two weeks once pasteurized.

6. If you let the milk rest for 24 hours, you will be able to skim the heavy cream and then the light cream. The heavy cream can be used to make butter the next day and you can use the light cream in beverages or with fresh fruit for example.

Read and learn how to use your milk and cream. The recipes and processes for milk and cream use are fun to research.

May your bounty be great,

Linda Headley
Just a Backyard Gardener
Hand Milking and Home Pasteurization

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