I’m sooooo excited to be welcome Kate from Venison for Dinner as a guest poster today! Like many of you, she’s had plenty of experiences with milk cows that like to kick, and is sharing her wisdom on that topic today!
Our first cow was a saint…
…She rarely kicked, just stood there and had a terrific udder. It was a sad day when we had to butcher her, and with our next cow, before I knew it, I was googling “How to stop your cow from kicking”. Wilderness is a spit-fire! While never mean, she’s slowly working on her patience, and seeing as she’s only halfway through her second lactation, I’m happy with the progress she’s made.
There are a few types of kicks that a cow has, and let me clarify that if your cow is a mean kicker, in that she tries to kick YOU, not the bucket, then take extra precaution. We’ve never had one, thank goodness! Mostly cows will try to kick the bucket, or they will ‘tap dance’, which is when they’re impatient, shifting their feet, trying to move around and you keep having to shift the bucket.
We learned through the school of hard knocks, and I’m hoping that some of our bumps, bruises and tears can be a learning tool for you to avoid such things!
WHY Your Milk Cow might be Kicking
1. It’s her first lactation.
I put this first and foremost as it’s really important. It would be a whole other post to describe how to train a cow, but if you’re a newbee, trying to train a cow to be milked, I’d suggest finding someone who can help you.
(Cleaning her up before milking…mucky spring day takes lots of time!)
2. She’s new in a lactation.
If your cow has just calved and you’re trying to milk her, understandably she might be a little grumpy as her hormones balance out, but also if she’s been separated form her calf.
3. She’s separated from her calf.
If you’re currently milk sharing with a calf, you’ve brought your cow into milk, and she is nowhere near her calf, then she will most likely not be happy about it! We have one person milk while the other person brings in the calf for the first while.
4. It’s her time of the month.
Don’t under estimate this one. While some cows have ‘silent heats’ that give them a whole new set of problems, some cows kick, are moody and hold back their milk while in heat. Their heats come every 21 days, and for 18 hours they are in ‘standing heat’. During milkings in that period of time, we expect to get less milk, potentially lose a bucket of milk, and to have to milk it like we stole it to get it done fast. If you expect it, it won’t take you by surprise.
5. You’ve just moved her.
New surroundings, new companions (or lack there of), new people, new milking routines. Expect a week or two of grumpier behaviour, less milk and getting to know the cow.
6. She’s scared of the bucket.
Our last two milking cows came from a farm where they were machine milked. Training a cow to then become hand milked is not a fun task. Stick a metal bucket between their legs and start squeezing musical streams of milk into it? No wonder our bucket has so many dents in it. My husband also finds that if she’s antsy that day, when the bucket starts to get about 3-4 inches full, the powerful squirts make the bucket vibrate and she feels it in her feet. She doesn’t kick at this point, just tap dances.
7. She’s running out of grain and getting impatient.
These are like fly swat kicks, because she’s wanting to get out of there, trying to give you a hint for that, and lifting her feet up and down in little swings. We’ve had cows that we don’t need to feed grain to keep them still, but our current cow, Wilderness, is not one of them. (And yes, she is messy with her feed. Chickens tidy that up…)
8. You’ve changed her feed.
Wilderness hates it when we feed her a different grain, ESPECIALLY if we have to give her a conventional instead of her usual organic feed? Homegirl knows the difference.
9. Sore Udder or Blocked Ducts.
If when you touch part of your cows udder, she flinches, and she doesn’t usually, then I’m on the lookout for clots in the milk, red spots (meaning inflammation and heat) and blocked ducts. I like to nip mastitis in the bud!
10. She might just hate you.
I’m sorry. I had to say it. It’s true. Wilderness goes through phases of preferring different people and for a week she had such a hate on for me that my Husband took over all the milking for 5 days. Right now, I’m her favourite and she’s an angel for me. I’ll take what I can get!
So, we covered 10 reasons WHY your cow could be kicking, stay tuned to find out WHAT you can do about it! (Part Two coming is at ya next week!)
Do you have a milking cow? Share if you’ve found different reasons they might be kicking!
Kate is a stay at home Mom of 2 little boys living a homemade life on the West Coast of British Columbia. She enjoys to cook and bake from scratch. Through hunting and homesteading, Kate and her family produce more than enough to fill their own meat and dairy needs, happily helping others start their own homesteading journey along the way. Kate also has a passion for home healing with natural medicine. You can follow along at www.venisonfordinner.com as she hones her homesteading skills, making her ‘whey’ through one mountain of raw milk at a time. Maybe you too will be inspired to butcher your own deer or try your hand at natural medicine!