Back in Business

Sienna lazes around in the pasture.

Milking daily has resumed. After a turbulent calving cycle with my family milk cow, I’ve decided to take over the job of milking Sienna myself. She nursed three different calves this cycle, and her udder was utterly exhausted from the experience.

Since I was not ready to start milking daily again, and dedicate the time that entails, I made a decision to switch to once-a-day milkings. I have done this in the past with success. She can’t handle the transition if her production is in full swing. (Full swing for Sienna is about four gallons a day.) However, her milk supply had dropped to about two gallons a day, so I thought it would be a smooth transition.

My milk fridge fills up with glass jars of milk.

I’ve been doing once-a-day milkings for just over a week, and she’s doing fine so far. However, in the past when I’ve done this, her supply drops. This time, Sienna’s milk production has not dropped, just the opposite. 

When I started, Sienna gave me just a smidge over two gallons. Now, she’s giving me two and a half gallons each morning. Honestly, I’m a tad concerned that if her supply keeps rising, I will have to up my milking to twice a day. I don’t want her already-taxed udder to undergo more stress, and I definitely don’t want to deal with another bout of mastitis. 

Gusty just got weaned when I took him off Sienna to start milking her daily.

Although I’m not completely certain what is causing Sienna’s spike in production, my educated guess is that it’s due to spring. When comes spring, grass grows. After a long winter of hay, the cows are ravenous for that spring grass and the nutrition it holds. Sienna’s production usually does go up when she starts back on grass. 

I feel a bit of a Catch 22 with all this. Although I want my cow to have better nutrition so she can get pregnant (see explanation here), I don’t want her milk production to go up. 

Now that I’m getting more than 14 gallons a week of milk, I’m back in the milkmaid business. Even with making yogurt, buttermilk, and kefir*, I still have oodles more milk than I can handle. Family and friends help me out with this part: “Mandi’s Milk Market,” at your service! 

*My next post will be about making kefir.

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