a farmer milking utters of a black and white cow. credit: melissa knorris

How to Milk a Cow as a First Timer

Alright yall, I get asked this a lot. How the heck do you guys milk a cow and when you’ve done this for as many years as we have, you tend to forget what it takes or even how we learned it.

Here are my 5 top tips for milking cows for someone that is a beginner.

Keep reading.

Prepare the udder

Cleaning Udders

You need to first clean the udder and teats thoroughly. If the udder is visually dirty, crab a few dry paper towels or wash cloths. Try not to use too much water which can drip down and contaminate the teats.

To wash the teats, use warm sanitizing solution like a commercial udder wash with single use paper towels. Make sure they are complete dry before continuing.

Use pre-milking Teat Dip

Dip each teat in a cup of licensed pre-dip germicide. Coat the bottom half of the teat. You can learn more about class types here.

Wipe the teats dry with paper towel and make sure there is no dip remaining.

Stimulate Milk Let Down

Now you’ll want to gently massage and wipe each teat for up around 20 seconds to start stimulating the process. For cows with very full udders, you will need less stimulation most likely.

You should be attaching the milking unit within a minute or so after the let down begins when the teats are plump with milk!

Use proper hand milking technique

There are basically a few parts you need to be aware of to use the right technique. Let’s go through them all

Hand Position

Start by sitting next to the cow using a small stool with the udder at your waist level. Wrap your thumb and forefinger around the top of the teat forming a c-shape. And your other fingers will wrap underneath the teat to form another c-shape. See the image below for reference.

a diagram showing how to milk a cow by hand
credit: researchgate.net

Milking Motion

Gently squeeze the teat but firmly with your entire hand starting from the top near the udder. In a single smooth motion, close your fingers one by one down the teat, moving the milk out of the teat.

Open your entire hand after each squeeze so the milk will refill the teat.

Rhythm and Speed

Just use a comfortable consistent rhythm. You can milk at about 1-2 squeezes per second. If you go too fast, you’ll get tired or hurt the cow, if you go too slow, you lose efficiency so it does take practice!

Teat Care

As mentioned, be a bit gentle, but firm during the milking, the cow will let you know how she’s feeling sometimes so watch out for some cues. Don’t tug on the teat, milk from top to bottom in the direction the teats naturally point. Dry the teats after.

Milking order

Milk the front quarters first then move to the rear quarters of the cow. Milk each quarter separately, switch hands if needed. Make sure you completely finish each quarter before moving to the next.

Maintain a consistent routine

This is pretty straight forward.

  • Keep the same milking schedule – don’t change it up every single week.
  • Also use the same pre-milking routine as mentioned above
  • Milk in the same order, udder cleaning, pre-dipping, milking, drying teats – evening milking the quarters of the cow in the same order
  • Keep the environment clean and calm – don’t switch locations and don’t have a lot of distractions around. Minimize the noises and movement around the milking area.

That’s it! I hope you all got some good tips out of this. Good milking luck!

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