Last night I put the calf in the house block and Brandy in the paddock next to it. We did this so the calf would not be able to drink off her overnight, which would mean there would be plenty of milk on her when I milked her out in the morning. Bill and I woke this morning shortly after sunrise to the sounds of Brandy bellowing, very loudly. The calf was gone from the house block.
We scouted around for him and found him in the big paddock with Rosie, our other cow. So, I got my milking stuff together and went out to the paddock to milk Brandy. She was full of milk, poor thing. I gave her some chaff with some dairy meal, for milk production, mixed into a bucket. While she ate that I milked out one of her good teats. There was plenty of milk there.
As soon as she finished the food, and before I had finished milking her, she marched out of the paddock, right through the barbed wire fence and straight to her calf. The calf was trying desperately, at the time, to drink from Rosie, who of course had nothing for her. The calf latched straight on.
So the good news is there is plenty of milk there. I got about a litre, it's hard to know how much more was there, but I suspect a fair bit. I didn't get to the back teat, from which milk was spurting out of while I milked the front one. We need about two litres a day for our family.
She is a pretty slow milker, with only one large teat really suitable for milking, and only two teats working. The other thing is , I can't milk for very long before my arms begin to ache. I guess this will improve.
Yesterday was the first day we were able to drink her milk after the withholding period from the antibiotics had finished. I was only able to get 500ml from her when I milked because the calf had been drinking from her all day. The children all tried her milk, except Jude, who thought the idea of drinking Brandy's milk was gross. It was pretty creamy and tasted a lot different to milk from the shop.
The milk needs to be strained through a cloth, but apart from that, it can be drunk fresh from her udder.
Brandy probably needs to be milked in a stall, and there is talk of all the neighbors pitching in to build one. We have to work out a milking roster for the cow as well. We have two neighbors who have helped us a lot with the cows and we would like to be able to share the milk with them, and they are keen to milk her. I don't think there will be any surplus milk, which is a shame because I was hoping to sell it to pay for the cost of our agistment, feeds and dairy meal.