“So you’re thinking of getting a family cow. You’ve probably thought of many good reasons: fresh milk 10 months of the year, cream to do with as decadently as you want, peaceful moments in the barn with your head resting against the flank of the cow while milking and letting the rest of the world go by.
But there are other points to consider. You will have to milk twice a day 10 months of the year. Milking needs to be regular, or the cow will be uncomfortable and her production will suffer. Milking can be done on two possible schedules: either 12 hours apart or on a 10- and 14-hour schedule, e.g. at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Milking once a day is possible if you leave the calf on for the day and separate it at night, then milk the cow yourself in the morning; but don’t do this when the calf is really young. Start separating when the calf is two months old; when it is fully weaned at four to six months, go back to twice daily milking, or let the cow’s production drop (by feeding it less grain, for example) and continue to milk once a day. Make such schedule changes slowly – cows are creatures of habit…”
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