Salty Jersey Milk...What’s Causing it?

JirehFarmsTN

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Hi all!
We recently added a 5 year old Jersey cow to our herd. She was being used as a nurse cow so she was still in milk, and we have been hand milking her. The only problem is when her milk gets cold, it’s salty!

Research online has told me that it can be 3 things:
Mastitis
Been in lactation too long
Something in diet

She hasn’t had any signs of mastitis...her udder isn’t hot, red or sore, and the milk isn’t chunky, watery or bloody.
She is fed a dairy ration from our local co-op store and is out on fresh pasture with our longhorn cattle.
Unfortunately I’m not positive how long she’s been in lactation, but her calf was recently weaned before we got her so I’m assuming quite some time.

Any advice or help would be appreciated! We need to get her bred ASAP, but until then I will have to keep milking her...I hate having to waste her milk! Today when I milk her I plan to milk her quarters in to separate jars to see if it’s one quarter or all of them.
 

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misfitmorgan

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On my grandparents dairy farm if their 2 jersey cows(milked separate cause that was grandma's favorite milk) milk tasted salty every on the next milking they would do as you plan to do and milk each quarter seperately to see how many were affected then they would milk her 4 times a day and rub some kind of ointment into her udder each time until the saltiness went away. Salty milk is what happens before mastitis shows up, so the first signs.

I know milk can be affected by stress as well so if "recently got" was within a few days it might clear up on its own once she gets settled. Personally I would just milk her several times a day and give her a udder massage each time until it cleared up, better that then trying to fight full on mastitis.
 
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farmerjan

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Congrats on the jersey.... love home grown fresh raw milk.

Mastitis does not have to be obvious. There are often sub clinical staph and strep infections that will raise somatic cell counts and still not show up as chunks or bloody or watery or anything.... maybe a smidgen thick in a quarter.... If you can, get a mastitis "paddle" ... it is a test kit with a liquid that will react to any mastitis... you milk a couple squirts in each of the 4 round circle/cups... from each quarter... and then use the liquid to squirt a little in each to see if you get some sort of reaction..... you going and milking each quarter into a separate jar is the same idea.....

I have never heard of milk being salty when chilled.... so I can't say I have experienced it.... but have had some off tasting that has turned out to be from what they were eating.... and once the milk went "bad" much quicker and that is a high scc.... due to a sub clinical mastitis infection....
Cows tend to have higher scc after being in milk for a long time.... it is natural for the cell count to go up with the longer lactations....

Is she running with your longhorn bull? Hopefully you get her bred asap.... and then next time you can be pickier as to what you breed her to..... If her calf has been weaned you need to figure she is at least 6 months fresh and maybe more.... I would want to just get her pregnant at this point... and a longhorn cross would make good beef for you to eat.... then be able to plan on what you breed her to for the next calf....using a jersey AI and even using sexed semen to greatly increase your chances of a heifer calf....

I would think most likely it is a sub clinical case of mastitis unless there is something in the pasture that you think she is eating that might be causing it... in the spring here, they will often eat the newly greening wild onions and gives their milk an off flavor....
 

farmerjan

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What @misfitmorgan said... and there is a peppermint smelling cream that many dairyman are using now... it is like a menthol type that causes warmth... peppermint causes a higher blood flow, which will help to get the udder to "clear out" the mastitis rather than treat it with anti-biotics.... frequent milking will help too to get the milk cleared out more frequently so the bacteria can't grow as fast....that is one reason why we often will put calves on a cow with chronic mastitis.... they are constantly nursing and can keep the swelling "butted out" and the bacteria constantly removed from the udder.... and there might be a reason why they used her as a nurse cow.... she could have a chronic problem too and the calves will keep that at bay by frequently being sucked by calves....
 

JirehFarmsTN

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Thank you for all the great information so far!
Unfortunately our longhorn bull has yet to arrive as the current owner can’t get him into the trailer...but we *should* have him here soon and we will let him in the field with her and the longhorn cows as well.
I will look for the cream and try to test her milk to see if it is mastitis after all! Does anyone happen to know the name of it?
The previous owner says she was a nurse cow bc he didn’t need or have time to milk her...he lived off property, but obviously there’s no real way of knowing if that was true or not.
 

misfitmorgan

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Thank you for all the great information so far!
Unfortunately our longhorn bull has yet to arrive as the current owner can’t get him into the trailer...but we *should* have him here soon and we will let him in the field with her and the longhorn cows as well.
I will look for the cream and try to test her milk to see if it is mastitis after all! Does anyone happen to know the name of it?
The previous owner says she was a nurse cow bc he didn’t need or have time to milk her...he lived off property, but obviously there’s no real way of knowing if that was true or not.

California mastitis test is the name of it. Most feed mills or stores like tractor supply will have a test. The California one has a paddle with 4 spots and there is another type Mastitis Indicators that are paper things.
https://www.google.com/search?q=cal...13i457j0i13.7943j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
 

farmerjan

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Thanks @misfitmorgan ... I could see the paddle and could not pull the "california mastitis test" out of the memory....
He could be honest about her being a nurse cow... and if he lived off the property, he would not necessarily know if she had chronic or periodic mastitis with the calves nursing her...

First thing is to see if you can isolate any mastitis... then treatment.... staph and strep will be the 2 main ones and both can be sub clinical and chronic.... there are other kinds and the best way to go for that is to see if your state lab will do cultures on milk to determine what types/strains she has.
I would go with seeing if she has any problem.... and if it is sub clinical, it will show up and come and go..... so it might not pick it up with just one test....and if she does show some, try the milking several times a day for several days..... and then consider using antibiotics to hit it hard.... and then see.
 

JirehFarmsTN

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A little update from today...
After milking into a different jar for each quarter, I DO have some results! 😁 Front left is slightly salty, front right is “in between”, and back is pretty salty. I’m guessing the front quarters are starting to clear up some, because there IS. Noticeable difference, but I will still be looking for the cream and test kit. The back is hardest for me to completely empty, I’m wondering if I just haven’t flushed out enough of the milk for her to start clearing up on her own. I’m going to start milking more, and, we are considering raising a calf on her to help keep her udder cleaned out while she gets over it. I will share another update as things go along!
 

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