Sheep milking - year three begins

norseofcourse

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@frustratedearthmother - what section of WW had the nylon mesh strainer? Got a picture of it? I just know I'll ask someone and they'll have no clue what I'm talking about LOL
 

Red Ridge

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When I get a chance I will read this entire thread but until then I will post a quick response to the first post. I used to own a commercial sheep dairy and milked 150 twice a day... a few things to note. ..
Sheep are not goats.
They like to be crowded
They don't like to be alone
An Udderly EZ is a dangerous tool

Now... All that said. .. I'd put both sheep next to each other on the stand and crowd them in next to each other as tight as they will go. This will solve many problems. Many commercial systems as a matter fact use this crowd type system instead of individual head stalls.
Get them up there together in a confined space where they can't move much or turn around and you will be amazed how they instantly relax. Not having lambs weaned could prevent total let down, but you well notice a difference.

I'm late milking 3 ewes and 2 Dexters si need to run. .. But will try to catch up on this thread later today
 

Red Ridge

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Oh and. .. DO NOT hobble - never a good idea with sheep
 

frustratedearthmother

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I found mine in the kitchen gadget section. They usually come with several different sizes in one bag. They have a black plastic frame if that helps.
 

norseofcourse

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@Red Ridge - thanks for the input! 150 ewes twice a day, wow.

I'm still milking Brosa and Rose, and still learning, but it's definitely going well. All the ewes are now quite used to the routine, and are easy to call into the milking area, and they jump right up onto the stand. They're even willing to come in more than once! lol Gracie gets her turn too, only so I can give her some extra grain, since with the twins she can use it.

Their kicking had toned down, but lately it got a bit worse again (not near as bad as it was in the beginning, though). Tonight I had the idea to wait till they'd finished their grain before I started milking. Whether it was coincidence, or I'd hit on something, it seemed to work - they both stood much better as I milked, and I got more milk than I'd been getting lately! They seemed much more relaxed, and did the 'tuck the butt' thing more readily (the same motion they do when their lambs nurse, and that they sometimes do when I milk). I will do the same thing tomorrow and see what happens. Only four more cups and I'll have my gallon for the first cheesemaking!
 

norseofcourse

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I've sure been learning a lot this summer! I've got the gallon for cheesemaking, and more set aside for some batches of soap and fudge. They are behaving really well - waiting for them to finish the bit of grain I give them to hop on the stand has really helped (then they get a bit more after I milk). One other major change:

After a lot of reading, and considering my setup here and options, I decided to try separating the lambs during the night and milking in the morning. I started on a Saturday night/Sunday morning (I am not a morning person, so initially I was only going to try it on weekends). The only way I could separate them was to leave the lambs out with the ram and wether all night, and close the ewes in the run-in area of the barn. This means I can only do it during decent weather, as I don't want to close all the sheep out of their shelter if it's going to storm. Luckily, we've been having pretty decent weather.

The first time I milked in the morning, I got nearly triple what I'd been getting milking at night! 11 ounces versus 4 ounces. It was a good enough result that I decided to try and get up earlier on a weekday morning to milk, so I set the alarm a half hour earlier, and was actually able to get up and milk Monday morning. Output was a bit lower, but still double the typical evening amount. And I'm not milking them out fully, so they still have milk for their lambs.

The next couple nights I had to keep everyone in a different pasture, so I didn't do any milking (hornet nest above the run-in area had to be re-sprayed). I milked again this morning, and got 10 ounces. I'm going to milk for just awhile longer, and then stop for the year.

Then I'm going to work on a way to subdivide the run-in area so I can separate lambs and still have everybody under shelter, and for next year plan on milking in the mornings, starting when the lambs are 3 or 4 weeks old. Having to get up early is the biggest drawback, but that time of year the sun comes up earlier, so that should help.

The difference between Rose and Brosa is interesting. Rose has nice large teats, but small orifices, and the orifices seem to point 'in' (in other words, if I hold her teat straight and squeeze, the milk hits her opposite leg about halfway up). Brosa has smaller teats (she's a first freshener so next year I'm hoping they'll be a bit bigger), but larger orifices which point straight down. I didn't milk Gracie (Brosa's mom) long enough to remember what she's like.
 

Baymule

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Sounds like you stumbled on a better way to milk. Just fix the coffee pot at night so you can get a good caffeine jolt in the mornings!
 

norseofcourse

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Yesterday morning I milked the sheep for the last time this year. I missed milking this morning, but I didn't miss getting up so early! This year was to be my 'trial' and experimenting year, and I'd have to say it was a success overall.

By trial and error, and reading and asking folks, we went from beginners to at least somewhat experienced (but still novice) milker and milkees. I learned that once sheep know a routine, they remember and expect it - especially if food is involved!

I went from being excited about getting a whole two tablespoons :) to getting enough milk that I wasn't quite as concerned about the amount that got absorbed into the milk filter :D =D. Separating the lambs and moms overnight, and then milking in the morning, turned out to work really well, once I figured out a way to do it here.

I am really looking forward to milking next year (well, all but the getting-up-early part!). The milking stand/neckrope arrangement works well, but I need to get a milking stool - my knees were telling me I'm not as young as I used to be.

There's an area inside the run-in area I can section off into a 8' by 10' pen for the lambs next year, with goat panels from TSC. Then I'll just need to make a small hay/grain feeder for them. By mid to late April, there's enough daylight at 6:30 am to start milking, so I'm hoping to time lambing for the lambs to be about a month old at that point. Daylight that early will last about 4 months, if I end up milking that long!

For the two months I milked this year, I got a little over two gallons. There were some days I didn't milk, some I got an ounce or two, often I got 4 or 5 ounces, and when I started separating the lambs I probably averaged 8 to 10 ounces a day. Crossing fingers, if all goes well I'll be getting more milk next year, and I hope to experiment again with cheese, and even have enough milk to try some things like yogurt and butter. And cajeta :drool

Thanks for the advice and encouragement everyone!
 
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SheepGirl

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I would love to milk one or two of my sheep just for the heck of it, but I wouldn't be as consistent as you nor would I probably do anything with the milk.

Glad you had fun and I can't wait to hear about next year!
 
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