Our milk cow is probably the hardest working member of our homestead.
(Except for maybe this summer when we remodeled and painted the barn and shop. And built that 1/2 mile of fence. All within a 2 month time span…. then I think WE deserved that title…)
Our dear, sweet Oakley not only provides us with all the milk we can drink (and then some…), but she also is nursing not one, but TWO calves.
If you follow The Prairie Homestead on Facebook, then you know that our friend’s milk cow died unexpectedly after calving, so we ‘adopted’ their little heifer calf.
When we agreed to take the calf, I had NO idea how Oakley would respond. After all, she is a first-time mama herself. I had visions of struggles, bottle feeding, and the possibility of a lot more work for us.
But, when we brought the little calf home and turned her in with our cows, Oakley turned and looked at her with her big soft eyes, blinked, and then went back to eating as the little heifer nursed.
What a relief!
So, for all the things that Oakley provides us with, I want to make sure she gets a little something special in return.
Lately with the cold, dry weather, her teats have been cracking a bit and becoming chapped.
I know you can easily go to the feed store and buy pre-made, petroleum-based, udder balms. But why not make it at home instead? Homemade udder salve is not only simple to make, but it is also ultra-nourishing, and so natural that you could eat it. (Ok, I’m not saying you should eat it. I mean, you could if you wanted to and it wouldn’t poison you, but please don’t actually eat it, m’kay?)
Homemade Udder Salve (For Cows and Goats)
- 1/2 ounce beeswax
- 1 ounce shea butter
- 1 ounce coconut oil (Expeller-pressed is fine (the kind that doesn’t smell like coconuts)
- 3 ounces Calendula infused oil (You can buy it pre-made at your local health food store. Or directions to make your own are below. Or, if you are really in a pinch, you can use plain olive oil.)
- 2 drops Lavender essential oil
- 2 drops Melaleuca essential oil
To make Calendula Infused Oil:
Place dry Calendula leaves (you can get them on Amazon) in a very clean, dry glass jar. Cover them completly with olive oil. Cap tightly and place in a warm, sunny window and allow to steep for 2-4 weeks (the longer the better). Give it a good shake once a day or so (or whenever you happen to think about it). When you are ready to use it, strain out the leaves.
Calendula is thought to have anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties. It’s a favorite herbal treatment for healing minor cuts, scrapes, and burns.
To make the udder salve:
In a double boiler, melt the beeswax. I use a hill-billy double boiler setup:
I fill a small saucepan 1/2 way full with water and place a Pyrex measuring cup (or some other stove-top safe container) inside. I place the beeswax in the Pyrex, and allow it to melt over medium-high heat. (Using beeswax pastilles, like these, makes the melting process easier…)
Once the beeswax is melted, add in the shea butter and coconut oil. Gently stir, incorporating everything as it melts. Add the Calendula oil, mix together, and then remove from the heat. Add the essential oils.
Store in a small glass or plastic container (if using plastic, allow your mixture to cool a little before pouring it into the container). Make sure you choose something large enough that you can reach your fingers inside to scoop out the salve.
Apply frequently. I like to use it every morning after milking.
A few notes:
- I’ve seen several udder balm recipes calling for peppermint oil. I thought about including in my recipe, but then I also got to thinking that peppermint seems to make everything feel colder. I’m not sure that would feel the greatest on a wet udder when it’s already 20 degrees (or less!) outside.
- However, many folks seem to think that massaging the udder with peppermint oil helps with mastitis. So, I would recommend adding a few drops of peppermint essential oil to your salve if you are having problems with that.
- I do NOT recommend leaving this out in the barn when it’s cold… It will turn into a solid brick. I leave mine in our mud room and just slip it into my pocket when I head out the door to milk.
- Don’t stress out over the measurements. Feel free to play around with the indgredient amounts- it’s pretty flexible. If you want it harder or softer, try adjusting the amount of beeswax you use. The more you add, the harder it will become.
- This is wonderful for your own hardworking hands and feet, too!
- It’s good for a ton of other animal ailments too, not just udders. Or use it as a basic salve base, and add other essential oils for different healing properties.
Interested in more frugal homestead ideas? Check out these other posts:
- Homemade, All-Natural Fly Spray
- Homemade Laundry Soap
- A Frugal Cheesecloth Alternative
- Homemade Dog De-Skunker
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