I am VERY new to milking, and I tend to only “share milk” my Dexter cows, which means I am handling smaller volumes of milk than someone who splits off the calf and milks their cows regularly. The following products have proven themselves to be invaluable to me when I am hand-milking my Dexters.
Stainless Steel Bucket – Now for me, as a hand-milking newbie, I like these small stainless steel buckets. I can easily hold them and milk straight into them, or balance them on the end of my milking stool. It also means if I do drop them, I am not losing an entire milking session. I just milk for a while and then transfer the milk into my milk jug, keeping the milk cleaner, cooler and out of harms way. They come in 1 quart, 4 quarts, and 6 quarts sizes as well. I’ve had mine now for a few years and it still looks as good as new.
Lindy’s Stainless Steel Milk Jug – I have to say I simply love this product! Everything about it just works for me. The jug is very stable, which means you are less likely to spill milk. It has a wide mouth opening which makes pouring and clean up a breeze. The top fits well and protects the milk. And the long handle means I can hang the jug or carry it while still carrying other items. Again, I just love this jug and it also provides a sense of nostalgia for me. Can’t recommend this one enough!
Stainless Steel Funnel with Filter – When it comes to quickly filtering milk to remove small debris, this is a great tool. Easy to use, and easy to clean. But also purchased the reusable oval coffee filter for use in essentially double filtering the milk. This filter fits inside the steel funnel and the fluted edges work great at catching debris. Anything that somehow (rarely) makes it through this filter has a second chance to be caught on the funnel filter. Since the filter is also stainless steel, clean up is a breeze
And if you like a little frothy milk in your coffee, I just love this handy little milk frother by Bodum. Works quickly and easily (and of course you can use it on any milk – fresh milk, cream, or even store bought).
When it comes to handling cows, it pays to have some strong and dependable supplies on hand. Dexter’s small size make them lovely to work with, but they are still really strong animals when they decide they don’t want to do something.
I have both rope halters and leather halters on hand. Rope halters are convenient for catching and training cows and calves. One size fits all.
I strongly prefer the Weaver breaking halters that have the figure-8 hardware for faster release. All rope halters tend to tighten but are much harder to release off the nose than a rope halter that has hardware. Even a simple ring on the rope halter works better, but the figure-8 design is better still.
Rope halters also come in a nice array of colors which I like. You can get an extra long rope halter which can be great for working with a more skittish cow. It can allow you more distance to safely work and help the cow to settle faster.
Although I started out working with rope halters, I found that the release and control was not always as good as I might like. I started looking for alternatives and found the leather show halters. Although I have no intention of showing my cows, these halters can make handling a breeze. The chin chain releases extremely fast, making the release of pressure very precise which improves control but also speeds up the rate at which the cow learns. I love working with the leather halters which are also easier on my hands. I find that the medium size is sufficient for my cows and I also have a calf halter.
I also like having a show stick on hand around the cow pen. It is a convenient tool for helping to position cows or for retrieving dropped ropes, buckets or even loose baling twine out of pens from a distance. I use mine all the time. I also found this was the perfect tool for helping to teach my cows to back up. I could stand near them and lightly tap on their front legs to cue them to back away from me and be respectful of my personal space.