DIY Homemade Udder Balm

homemade udder balm or salve

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)

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 Oil

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:

Udder Balm

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.
    DIY Homemade Udder Balm

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 ounce beeswax
    • 1 ounce shea butter
    • 1 ounce coconut oil
    • 3 ounces Calendula infused oil (in a pinch, use plain olive oil)
    • 2 drops Lavender essential oil
    • 2 drops Melaleuca essential oil
    • Glass or plastic container large enough to reach fingers inside to scoop out salve

    Instructions

    1. In a double boiler, melt the beeswax over medium-high heat (I fill a small saucepan 1/2 way full with water and place a Pyrex measuring cup inside, melting the beeswax inside the Pyrex cup)
    2. Once the beeswax is melted, add shea butter and coconut oil
    3. Gently stir, incorporating as it melts
    4. Add Calendula oil, mix and then remove from heat
    5. Add essential oils
    6. Store in small glass or plastic container (if using plastic, allow mixture to cool first)
    7. Apply frequently (I use every morning after milking)

    Notes

    If you want it harder or softer, try adjusting the amount of beeswax you use.

    http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2011/11/diy-homemade-udder-balm.html

Interested in more frugal homestead ideas? Check out these other posts:

  1. Homemade, All-Natural Fly Spray
  2. Homemade Laundry Soap
  3. A Frugal Cheesecloth Alternative
  4. Homemade Dog De-Skunker

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

 

 

Comments

  1. Christine Adair says:

    Love this–thank you–will be making pronto. Both lavender and tea tree oil have good antibacterial/fungal properties–perhaps good for prevention of mastitis as well? Too much peppermint burns–had personal experience with that–ouch!

  2. Yes- very possible that the lavender and tea tree oils could help with mastitis and other ailments, too! Wish I knew more about essential oils- and I agree- I just can’t imagine that a steady dose of peppermint would feel good all the time. I think you’ll really enjoy it- I’m finding myself sneaking it for my own hands! ;)

  3. I’ve milked cows all my life, I recommend adding clove to your mix….it works as an anesthetic/pain reliever!
    Great for sore teats, and far better than getting your head kicked off!!!

    : )

    ~Martin

    • Martin, this is brilliant!
      I’ve heard of using cloves for pain-relieving in other areas- can’t believe I never thought to use it here.
      Will definitely be trying this- thanks for the idea!

  4. We always used bag balm on the utter and teats when necessary. Also on our own hands. How will a topical solution help with something like mastitis?
    How is the balm you made working out for your cow? Sorry I have so many questions. Where I worked, we had very very few cases of mastitis and the thing that always helped was to get those infected milked. Thank god it only happened infrequently.

    • This balm is working great for our cow. I can really see a difference when I miss a day of applying it. Her teats end up being much more dry.
      Our cow has never had mastitis, but our goats have a little.
      Frequent milking is a wonderful treatment for it, as well as massaging and heat. I think the concept of using peppermint oil is that the “heat” from it helps with the infection.

  5. This made me giggle. Not that chapped udders are particularly funny but I just published a post about my favorite homemade hand salve and the recipes are nearly identical! What’s good for the teats is great for the hands…I use it after I wash dishes :)Found you on the Green Resource….come “visit” me sometime!

  6. This sounds like it’d be lovely for people, too! Cracked heels, anyone?

  7. Why do you use and infusion instead of an essential oil of calendula. (I’m ignorant, maybe there isn’t one?)

    • Good point Cecilia- I just looked it up and apparently their IS Calendula essential oil- so I’m thinking you could definitely use a bit of that along with your olive oil as well. I just happpened to have the dry leaves as well as olive oil, so just decided to go with the infusion.

  8. You are a genius!!! This is almost identical to what I make for hubby. I melt mine in a small crockpot I picked up for a dollar, one of those for keeping dip warm. It works great in case I get sidetracked and forget(which happens most of the time) I am melting, never scorching.

    • Awesome use for the little croc pot dip warmer. Im so go to do this. Didnt know it could get warm enough.

  9. Just a little “old nurse” hint– this can be used on your baby homesteaders, too. We used bag balm in the hospital for the little tykes with diaper rash- works great. I bet this would, too (maybe minus the peppermint!).

    • Exactly -I was thinking this would be great for nursing Moms and their babies little bottoms too.

      Back in the 60s a neighbor had a baby. My Dad bought her a jar of bag balm, thinking he was being helpfull, but she ws super embarrased and horrified when she found out what it was for. Ah Suburbia!

  10. I love the story of how she took in the other calf. Sweet.

  11. Just a thought on the peppermint oil discussion…. I don’t have a cow, but….. as the mother of three I have learned(from a midwife) that if you have mastitis you are to drink peppermint tea to decrease your milk production until the mastitis clears up. In the same way, nursing mothers are not to drink too much peppermint tea or it could dry up your milk supply. So there you go, somehow peppermint affects milk supply. In people anyway, and maybe also in cattle!!

    • Fascinating Erin! I think you are definitely on to something. This definitely warrants some more research!

  12. I don’t have cows, but this does look like it would be a wonderful hand salve. My hands get dry in the winter, and I’m always trying to find a recipe for a salve that’s gentle, all natural, etc..

  13. What a great idea! We buy udder cream for my daughter’s hands, and this should work so much better for her!

    Annie Kate

  14. I’m laughing at myself – I’m at the ‘about to pop’ stage of pregnancy, as my husband put it earlier today, and of course thinking about upcoming breastfeeding. When i saw your ‘udder’ title on WFMW over at We Are That Family I automatically thought that was an alternative to putting breasts/nipples. So when I clicked over and saw you were actually talking about cow’s udders, I couldn’t help but laugh!

    • Deb, that made me laugh! I actually had wondered if I should change the title on that, b/c I was wondering if people might take that the wrong way. :) Congrats on your upcoming addition, btw!

      • I think it was just a good hook to draw folk in!
        And thanks, it’s number two, so we sort of know what’s about to hit us, but of course, it’s still a big change and will be a shock to my toddler who’s used to getting all the attention!

  15. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

  16. Love this and can’t wait to try it! I’ve got one of those tiny crock pots that came with a bigger one that I’ve never used- I think I will dedicate it to making this stuff. I do have a question, though- I’ve got some pure lanolin on hand and I am wondering if that would benefit this udder balm by mixing some in as well? I used to love Bag Balm, but don’t like the chemicals in it and as a result have stopped using it. However, I believe the lanolin in it is what I really like, because it helps it last longer and not absorb/dry out as quickly on your skin. Wondering on your thoughts regarding this?

    • I’ve never put lanolin in mine, but I have seen a couple different recipes calling for it. I definitely think it would work! Especially that is often used for human “udder” creams. ;)

  17. I had some home made comfrey salve, I took a little bit of it and added a bit of calendula oil and lavender es. oil. Just made up a little bit and put it on my cow…. her little cracks from the washings and cold have just about disappeared in two days.
    I love the stuff… I’ll be organized at some point and actually make up a batch just for the cow.

  18. When everything else is failing we tend to look for the best one which can pacify and meet our needs specially when it pertains to our skin or health. It’s a good thing that there is a cow’s milk which is in no doubt can greatly help us maintain a well state of optimum and balance health. It saves time and effort as well for you don’t need to go further and look for it.

  19. I find it great that more people are becoming self efficent. After reading and researching some of the chemicals that are being put in our food supply my family and I decided to start our own homestead 3 years ago we are new at it and learning as we go. However it is very rewarding and even though we still have a ways to go I am loving all the natural homemade items and providing safe food for our family. I hope more join in and remember why the good old days are just that.

  20. About the use of tea tree oil…from what I understand about it, a nursing woman is not to use it, as it gets into the milk…thus the infant ingests it which is not supposed to be good. Wouldn’t this do the same for a cow? That would be my only concern with the essential oil part.

  21. Hi
    Just wondering do you apply this after milking? Got a doe due to kid in 3 weeks so thought I could rustle some up now and pamper her!
    Thanks

    • Yes, I usually apply after milking. However, you could totally apply it whenever you think she needs it, or if her udder is especially dry.

  22. Hi
    We are organic dairy farmers. I use the commercially made Uddermint (organicly we can use the white). I idea behind the peppermint, tea tree oil, and other heat ingredients is to increase blood flow to the infected area and therefore reduce swelling and hopefully to get the cow to fight the infection. I can tell you that out of our 50 cows (times 4 quarters a cow) I have had 6 quarters all year infected. It takes about twice weeks to work it’s self out. You can say it is easier to not get mastitis. But we swear that we have a few cows that look for a nice wet spot or someone else’s cow pie to lay in!!! Think about it….40 acres of pasture for 50 cows and still find that perfect pile of pooh??? It kills me! Then there are the rainy wet days that only god can control and we have to learn to live with. So, if you could e-mail me with a recipe with heat (not enough to hurt the skin). At the same time cheaper than the $20 something a bottle. I have made the solid hand cream with bee’s wax for family and friends and I need something creamier. I don’t have the time to play forever with a cow, have other chores and homeschooling 4 children too. I’m also interested in the “why” of certain herbs in recipes. Also, is the Calendula an ingredient that is used in people lip balm? I wanted to make a lip balm for Christmas for everyone. I run into the problem of so little time and there being so many recipes for everything. ha-ha Thanks for your time and I really look forward to hearing from you.

  23. Would cocoa butter work instead of shea butter? I have cocoa butter on hand.

  24. Just found your site. I’m trying to buck up the courage to butcher my own pigs and was inspired by your steer processing story. Anyhow, I just thought I would make a small point of clarification that to make calendula oil, you use the flower petals, not the leaves. I just wanted to point that out in case anyone decides to use their own plants from the garden, which I have done. I make a tea though. It works great! The plants are pretty and easy to grow- prolific bloomers. I just keep the tea in the fridge and soak a cotton pad in it and then let the cool liquid sit on any skin ailments- eczema, pimples, scratches, sunburns, bug-bites. You name it and It gets the calendula treatment. I have pretty fair skin, so irritations show up like Roxanne’s red light. I also freeze the flower heads to make more tea in the winter time if I run out- now it’s a must-have in my cosmetic arsenal.

  25. Hi!
    Thanks for sharing this recipe… I’m definitely keeping this one. I can’t use shea butter because of allergies… could I use more coconut oil instead?

    Thanks!

  26. Hi Jil…Do you dry your own calendula leaves ? I grow marigolds every summer. I should probably dry a bunch.

    • I don’t… yet! Hope to in the future. :)

    • Well, after doing more research, I found that I am to use the petals for the infussion and NOT the leaves and to grow Calendula Officinalis NOT Common or Mexican Marigolds. Hope this helps everyone.

  27. Melissa says:

    Are all the ounces here by weight?

  28. If it will only be used by humans, would it be ok to use unrefined virgin coconut oil (smells like coconuts)?

  29. I made the same thing only I infused lavender and calendula. I use it morning and night on my cow after milking. I swear by this! She star

  30. Hi Jill
    I just made this balm and THEN decided to read all the comments. One question I have not seen come up though is :
    Is it ok to use this on a milking goat who is already currently nursing her twins? I milk her twice a day and her babies get all they need/want day and night. Is it ok for this to be on her tears and for them to “suck it off”?
    Thanks!
    Mk

    • I don’t think that should be a problem. I most always end up applying it before I turn my cow/goat back in with their babies. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid it! ;)

  31. Thanks for the recipe. I have calendula in the garden and dried petals too. Will be making soon. To clean the udders and teats, I make my own by using warm water, a little organic dish soap (about 1/8 tsp.), 3 drops of tea tree oil, and 1 drop lavender essential oil (theraputic/medicinal grade). Smells yummy. I cut up linen cloths into squares and use those. I wash/dry and re-use them. Looking forward to using your udder salve:)

    • I like that udder wash idea!

      • Thanks! I thought about using ‘Wipe Out’, but hate having to throw stuff in the garbage after one use and the website that I was looking at did not list the ingredients. Another thing I do for the goat barn is mix lavender EO with DE in a container with a lid. Stir and let sit (smells really good). Sprinkle on bedding (we use rice straw). Both DE and lavender helps to keep the bugs away. I do the same for the chicken coop.

  32. Every winter I end up with an eczema type rash on the top of one of my hands. I have been using a similar recipe (lotion bar) sans the shea oil (because I don’t like the smell much), calendula oil and only using lavender EO. my hands have been soft and supple! Never going back to store bought creams/lotions. I can only imagine how wonderful this would be for the cows and for the milker’s hands as well! :)

  33. Susan Vanderpool says:

    we used something similar for the babies bottoms, works great too when mama gets a case of cracked nipples from thrush

  34. Looks great! Thanks for sharing!

  35. If you have newsletters that u email out I would love if you signed me up. Have so thoroughly enjoyed everything you post on Facebook. Thank you.

  36. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. I recommend using a wide-mouth Mason jar in a pan of simmering water to melt the beeswax. After it cools, you can use the lid and ring to cover it. I use the same trick for melting a combination of beeswax and butter to grease candle molds.

  37. Not calendula leaves, its the petals from the flowers ( in the part about infusing the oil)

  38. Danielle says:

    Great Recipe :-) I use beeswax, Calendula infused olive oil, propolis tincture and lavender oil in out ‘Divine Miss Daisy’s tit balm’ :-)
    It also makes a nice lip balm and hand salve for humans and at a pinch can make a nice polish for work boots too.

  39. destiny says:

    Not sure if cows are the same as humans, but I wanted to add that peppermint oil can dry up milk in nursing mamas.

  40. I just made some lotion bars with sunflower oil infused with dandelion petals, bees wax, shea butter and coconut oil. My hands have never so soft. Dandelion is very healing, so I wonder if it will work for a milk goat? I am sure going to try it! Thank you for the idea!!