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Watch: 'Milkbots' Allow Cows to Milk Themselves

Watch: 'Milkbots' Allow Cows to Milk Themselves

Robotic milking machines have increased productivity for humans and cows alike at O.A. Borden & Sons family farm

The helpful "milkbot" allows cows to choose their own milking schedule, and everyone's happier.

The Borden family and its farm in upstate New York has entered the “brave new world of automated milking systems” with the introduction of the “milkbot,” a rotund and friendly-looking version of the Dalek, reports The New York Times.

The family has operated farmland in the area since 1837 and recently invested $1.2 million in the milking machines.

The milkbots have not only increased the amount of milk collected in a given day, but have also “increased overall productivity for humans and cows alike, reducing labor costs.” The bots also feed each cow when it enters the automated booth. In turn, the reward system has taught the cows to milk themselves.

Each cow can enter the milking booth whenever she’s ready as opposed to the traditional milking schedule set by the farmer. The reduction in workload for the farmers has even allowed the family to spend more quality time with the herd.

It’s a whole different herd of cows than it used to be,” says Mike Borden, petting a cow that’s come over to nibble on his arm. “They’re just very happy up here. Happy cows make a happy farmer.”

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.


The Best Ways to Use Non-Dairy Milks That Don’t Involve Cereal

The reasons for avoiding or minimizing dairy in one’s diet are myriad and often personal. Subscribing to vegan-ish eating habits can have a positive impact on everything from your digestive system, to your weight, to the planet at large, to the person sitting behind you approximately one hour after breakfast. Or maybe it’s a simple matter of being tired of the graveyard of nearly empty milk cartons littering your fridge, when non-dairy milks generally have much longer life spans. And, as luck would have it, we live in a moment when the sheer volume of health messages inundating us pretty much ensures that the average 11-year-old can probably name three sources of calcium outside the realm of dairy off the top of her head.

Deciding to incorporate dairy-alternative milks into your diet can go way beyond frothed in cappuccinos and splashed on cornflakes. Not all non-dairy milks are created equal—each has its own unique flavor and texture—so we’ve rounded up some of the best uses for five of the most common non-dairy milks.

Oster Pro 1200 Blender with Glass Jar, Smoothie Cup, and Food Processor Attachment, $78.99 on Amazon

Whether you make your own nut milk or just use store-bought in smoothies, you're gonna need a good blender to get the job done.

Soy Milk

The OG non-dairy milk to have become ubiquitous in our supermarkets is actually the closest to real milk when it comes to texture and protein content. Its flavor has a slight edge to it that can sometimes stick out when used in an unmasked form, such as on cereal, but it makes for some of the tastiest, most structurally sound dairy-free or vegan baked goods. For a little sweetness, try Whole Wheat-Oat Pancakes or Vegan Jelly-Filled Muffins. For a savory fix, try a Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup where the natural earthiness of soy milk fits right in.

Almond Milk

The catch-22 of nut-based milks is that they don’t contain as much protein as their namesakes would suggest. The upside, however, is that nut-based milks taste of their namesakes, rendering them delightful in preparations where the actual nuts would also work. Almond milk has a natural sweetness, making it excellent in smoothies such as this delicious and clean Mixed Berry Smoothie. Almond milk can also add a rich, umami element to braised meats, as in this Almond Milk Braised Pork Belly.

Coconut Milk

There is a vast difference in texture between coconut milk in a carton, which is light in texture with only a gentle air of coconut, and coconut milk in a can, which is much richer with a pronounced coconut flavor. And then there’s coconut cream, which is as much proof as I need of the existence of a benevolent higher power. With any of these on hand, you have options when you’re really jonesing for something creamy, without succumbing to actual cream. On the lighter side, use cartoned, unsweetened coconut milk for an aromatic Thai Coconut Soup. Coconut milk from a can is the staple for rich curries, like our Eggplant Curry with Lemongrass. When you have a craving that only the dreamiest mousse can tackle, use coconut cream in this 3-Ingredient Double Chocolate Mousse.

Oat Milk

Second to soy milk, the character of oat milk is most akin to low-fat regular milk, and brings more fiber to the table than a lot of non-dairy options. It’s also the easiest to make yourself if you’re giving DIY a try for 2019. Perhaps it goes without saying, but swap in oat milk in your oatmeal for an outcome (oatcome?) that is almost self-congratulatory, and then drink an Oat Milk and Honey cocktail in the spirit of congratulations. Now that you’re really feeling saucy, use oat milk as the basis for a basic béchamel sauce to accompany vegetables or (more likely) pasta.

Cashew Milk

Whereas soy milk and oat milk make for the easiest substitutes for actual milk, cashews and cashew milk are the best understudies for cheese. Nearly pulverized cashews have a texture more like ricotta than like peanut butter, and a flavor that is lightly yeasty, in a cheesy way. If you have the wherewithal, use cashews themselves as a basis for a decadent Cashew Mac and Cheese apply cashew milk to any situation begging for cream or Parmesan cheese, such as mashed potatoes, or this Creamy Garlic Roasted Red Pepper Pasta.

Related Video: How to Make Your Own Almond Milk

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Creamy Cow Milk Cold Process Tutorial

Soap made with goat milk is popular, but did you know luxurious soap can also be made with cow milk? For this Creamy Cow Milk Cold Process Tutorial, whole cow milk is used to add extra moisture and skin-loving properties. Full of contrast, this project features black and white layers reminiscent of a cow pattern. The scent combination of Vanilla Rosewood and Grass Stain fragrance oils creates a blend that is both warm and green…similar to a barn!

Freezing the cow milk before adding the lye prevents the milk from scorching. For a step by step tutorial of this process, check out this How to Add Lye to Milk for Cold Process Soap blog post. When selecting milk for soap making, be on the lookout for the least amount of additives such as vitamins, preservatives or thickeners. These additives can cause unpredictable soaping results. It can be difficult to find milk without vitamins. This recipe uses whole milk with added vitamin D it worked great. You can also use skim, 1% or 2% milk if you’d like.

Click here to add everything you need for this project to your Bramble Berry shopping cart!

If you’ve never made Cold Process soap before, stop here! I highly recommend checking out our FREE four part SoapQueen.tv series on Cold Process Soapmaking, especially the episode on lye safety. And if you’d rather do some reading, Bramble Berry carries a wide range of books on the topic, including my newest book, Soap Crafting. You can also checkout the digital downloads for that instant gratification factor.

SAFETY FIRST: Suit up for safe handling practices! That means goggles, gloves and long sleeves. Make sure kids, pets, and other distractions and tripping hazards are out of the house or don’t have access to your soaping space. Always soap in a well-ventilated area.

MILK PREP: Measure out 11.6 ounces of whole milk. Pour the milk into ice cube trays and place them into the freezer until completely hard (several hours to overnight).

COLOR PREP: To ensure that the Titanium Dioxide blends smoothly into the soap batter, we recommend micronizing it before dispersing it in oil. Please note this is an optional tip but it does help with the titanium dioxide clumping in the soap =) To micronize colorant, simply use a coffee grinder to blend the colorant to break up any clumps of color and prevent streaks of white from showing in the final soap. We like to use a coffee grinder that has a removable, stainless steel mixing area for easy cleaning. Then, disperse 2 teaspoons of the colorant into 2 tablespoon of sunflower or sweet almond oil (or any other liquid oil). Disperse 2 teaspoons of the activated charcoal into 2 tablespoon light liquid oil. Use a mini mixer to get the clumps of color worked out smoothly.

ONE: Remove the fully frozen milk from the ice cube trays and put it into a container that has been placed in an ice bath. Slowly add lye and stir until the lye is fully dissolved and the milk has become liquid. Click here to see this process and more tips on creating a lye and milk mixture. If you’d like a harder bar of soap that releases faster from the mold, you can add sodium lactate to the cooled lye milk. Use 1 teaspoon of sodium lactate per pound of oils in the recipe. For this recipe, you’d add about 2.5 tsp. sodium lactate.

TWO: Melt and combine the coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil and palm oils (remember to fully melt then mix your entire container of palm oil before portioning). Once the oils have cooled to 130 degrees or below, add the lye milk to the oils and stick blend until thin trace.

THREE: Once the batter has reached a light trace, split it evenly into two containers. Each container will hold about 3 cups. To one container, add all of the dispersed titanium dioxide. Use a whisk to fully blend in.

FOUR: To the other container, add 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons of the dispersed activated charcoal and use a whisk to fully mix in. To the black soap, add the Vanilla Rosewood Fragrance Oil. To the white soap, add the Grass Stain Fragrance Oil and use a whisk to mix in. Because the Vanilla Rosewood discolors to a deep brown, be sure not to mix the fragrances up! You can read more about fragrance discoloration in the Why Did My Soap Turn Brown post.

FIVE: The spoon-plop technique works best with a thick trace. To thicken the soap, stick blend each color for several seconds if necessary. The soap should be the texture of pudding.

SIX: Grab a large spoon for each color. Spoon the soap into the mold, one color at a time, layering them in three different spots within the mold.

SEVEN: Continue to plop the soap, placing the white soap onto black and vice versa. Use some large plops and some small to add visual interest.

EIGHT: Keep layering the colors until the mold is completely full. Tap the mold firmly on the counter to help release any air bubbles.

NINE: Use a spoon to mound the soap toward the center. Then, twist and turn the soap in the soap to create texture. Be careful not to play with the soap too much, or the colors will blend together into a light grey tone. Spray the top of the soap with 99% isopropyl alcohol and place the soap in the freezer for 5-24 hours to help prevent gel phase. Remove the soap from the freezer and allow to sit in the mold for 4-5 days. Milk soap can be a little softer due to the extra milk fat. Patience is key =) Once cut, the black soap will deepen in color over time due to the vanilla content in the Vanilla Rosewood Fragrance Oil.

Have you ever used cow milk in soap before? I’d love to hear what you thought!


INTRODUCING NEW FOOD VARIETIES WITH COWS' MILK ALLERGY (CMA)

Complementary feeding - also known as weaning - is an exciting time for you and your baby, as you watch your little one progress from breastfeeding and/or formula to eating family meals. Even though your baby may be allergic to cows' milk, you should aim to introduce a variety of foods and flavours – avoiding milk, of course.

There is no evidence that delaying the introduction of wheat, soya, egg, fish and nuts will prevent the development of allergies. In fact, evidence is building that early exposure of these foods may be beneficial. Parents should seek advice from a healthcare professional when beginning to wean a child with eczema or has had a reaction to another food other than milk.

The following recipes, developed with leading dietitians from across the UK, will help you to prepare milk-free recipes for your child. As you grow in confidence and as your child grows, you may be able to adapt family meals to make them suitable for CMA.


What Do Cows Like to Eat?

Farmers grow different types of crops on their farms, and it&rsquos true that some of that goes to feed animals. We know there is confusion about what kind of farming makes the best use of our resources, and we want to help explain part of that today.

In 2008, researchers surveyed 350 dairy farmers from around the country to find out exactly what dairy cows like to eat. After looking into those common ingredients, the researchers learned that 80 percent of what cows eat cannot be eaten by people &ndash we simply can&rsquot digest it.

They learned that most cow diets contain the following:

  • Grass: More than 50 percent of cow feed is actually grass (farmers call it hay and silage). While people often think dairy cows are fed a high-grain diet, in reality they eat the leaves and stems from corn, wheat and oats far more often than they are eating grain, like corn kernels.
  • Grain: Dairy cows do eat some grain, which usually makes up less than one-quarter of their diet. Some has been grown specifically for cows, and other types have been recycled after food or beverage production -- like barley that has been used first to brew beer.
  • The rest of a cow&rsquos diet includes ingredients like almond hulls, canola meal (the leftovers from producing canola oil), citrus pulp (the leftovers from making orange juice and other beverages) and more. Here&rsquos the cool thing: These products, which were once thrown away, are actually good for cows. Cows can &ldquounlock&rdquo the energy and nutrients in these products that would otherwise go to waste.

What about that 20 percent that we could eat? Researchers looked further and found that we wouldn&rsquot want to eat much of it, even if we could. Only 2.2 percent of what cows eat is made up of food that people would want to eat. There simply isn&rsquot a demand for it. So in short, cows really don&rsquot eat food people could eat. It&rsquos just a misconception.

This means our resources are being put to good use: Dairy cows have the unique ability to convert feed into human food. Dairy cows thrive on parts of plants that we can&rsquot eat, even if we wanted to. They transform those plants into foods that help us thrive, including delicious and nutritious milk &ndash and don&rsquot forget cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and more!

Dairy farmers take their commitment to feed the nation and the world seriously. To help fight hunger, dairy farmers and companies are working with Feeding America, the nation&rsquos largest domestic hunger-relief charity, to supply gallons of milk to those who need it most via the Great American Milk Drive.


Once a day milking

It sounds bucolic, doesn’t it? The simple joys of milking your own cow. Fresh milk, fresh cream, homemade cheese, butter, yogurt. What can get better than that?

But when face-to-face with a 1200-pound horned bovine behemoth, this enthusiasm might wane. While there is no doubt that milking your own cow will give you a sense of security and independence, where do you start? How do you milk a cow?

Three times in the last month I’ve received phone calls from people seeking advice. They wanted to milk a family cow but had no idea how to start. These people were mostly full of misinformation on what it takes to milk—how much work it is to train the cow, the difficulties in separating the calves, etc.

So, in an effort to dispel the myths and concerns, come with us on our milking adventures.

How we got started

We got our first cow and newborn calf rather unexpectedly. It was so unexpected, in fact, that the animals lived in our front yard for about two weeks until we could make other arrangements. Believe me, there is no stronger motivation to build a barnyard than to have a half-wild cow and skittish calf thrashing your lawn and leaving cow pats everywhere.

We finally were able to herd the animals to their newly-fenced (1/4-acre) “corral” until we could fence the pasture. But, of course, I couldn’t begin to milk the cow until I managed to separate the calf at night. So we built a calf pen and locked the calf away during the night.

After listening to the calf and cow bellow all night long with the indignity of being separated, I went with trembling heart to milk the next morning. With the cow loose—I had no way to restrain her, since she wasn’t halter-trained—I put a bucket of grain in front of her and squatted down to milk.

Of course, I had no flipping idea how to milk, but after five minutes of fumbling around down there, I managed to get a few squeezes into the milking bucket.

Then the cow lifted a back leg and casually kicked the bucket over. My hard-earned three ounces soaked into the ground. Then, to add insult to injury, she finished her grain and walked away, and wouldn’t let me anywhere near her udder without a bribe.

Clearly something had to be done.

Because Bossy wasn’t halter-trained, I knew that trying to get her into a stanchion would be a losing proposition. So I asked my husband to build a milking stall of some sort, something I could lure her into and then lock her in place so that she couldn’t get out even if she wanted to. He did this, adding it to the side of the calf pen. Then, because winter was coming and I wanted to milk while under shelter, he added a roof. One thing followed another, and over the next year he added another calf pen, a hay barn, and a passage for storing grain and the barn implements. We called it our “Winchester Mystery Barn” (for those who are familiar with the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California).

Once-a-day milking

I urge you to challenge your preconceived notion of how a cow “should” be milked namely, twice a day. One woman I spoke to was stunned to learn that cows don’t have to have a rigid schedule of milking. She has eight children ranging in age from three months to thirteen years, and had been resisting the idea of milking because her evenings were too full to allow for that evening chore. Once-a-day milking was more compatible with her schedule, and after our conversation she was energized to give it a try.

Once-a-day milking works for us for a number of reasons. First, it gives us all the milk we need with enough left over to make a batch of mozzarella once a week, but without giving us so much extra milk that our refrigerator overflows.

Second, I can milk whenever I want, within reason. In the summer, I’m in the barn around 5:30 in the morning, sometimes earlier. During the winter, it’s more like 8 a.m. The cows don’t care.

Third, I don’t have to bottle-feed the calf. The cow takes care of that. This frees up our schedule in more ways than one: If we need to be away overnight, for instance, we just leave the barnyard gate open so the animals have free access to the barn. We don’t confine the calves, and they just happily nurse all night long. No problem.

Since I don’t have to milk the cow in the evening, my only evening chores are to call the animals into the barnyard and close the gate behind them (I’ve already done the barn chores, such as cleaning and filling the hay racks, earlier in the day).

Fourth, unless you are prepared to remove the calf immediately at birth and hand-raise it out of sight of the cow, you can just turn the mothering duties over to the cow herself. She’s more than happy to mother her own calf. You’ll have to work a bit more to halter-train the calf when he/she is older, but until then your job is simplified. This strikes me as a healthier, more wholesome arrangement for all parties involved.

All right, this sounds great. Now how do you milk a cow?

How to get started

First step: Get a cow (duh). Personally I’m fond of Dexters, (www.purebreddextercattle.org) a small Irish breed that is dual-purpose (milk and meat), and doesn’t give as much milk as, say, a Jersey. This means we’re not swimming in milk. Other people with large families might prefer a heavy milk-producing breed. Go with whatever works for you.

I’ve milked cows that are halter-trained and those that aren’t. It goes without saying that halter-trained cows are easier to handle, but it’s certainly possible even if the animal has no training. Of course, if your cow is completely wild and flees in terror the moment you show your face, you’ll have trouble confining her to a milking stall or stanchion. Get another cow.

The basic requirements for milking once a day are: (1) a calf pen, for confining the calves during the night so the cow can “accumulate” her milk for the morning (2) a milking stall or stanchion with a grain bin or other container (i.e., a bucket in a holder) and (3) grain. Never underestimate the motivating factors of grain to get your cow to do what you want.

Train your animals to come into the barnyard at night. If your herd is scattered far and wide, you’ll either have to keep your milking animals closer at hand, or you’ll have to walk out into your vast holdings and lead your milking animals back every evening. We’ve done both.

How do you train a cow to go into a milking stall? It doesn’t matter if your cow is halter-trained or not, you can train her to go in by using grain. Wave a handful of grain before her nose, then let her watch as you put it in the grain bin or bucket that you’ve rigged up in the milking stall. It may take the cow a few days to gird up the courage to go for the grain, but that’s okay. Once she goes all the way in, don’t be too hasty to lock her in and dive for the udder. Let her relax and learn that being in the milking stall is not an alarming experience.

The ideal time to train a cow is in the first two weeks after she has given birth. During those two weeks the calf should have unrestrained access to the cow, day and night, in order to provide adequate bonding and in order to provide the calf with colostrum, the immune-strengthening “first milk” the cow produces. During this time, you can train the cow to go into the stall calmly.

The first time you confine your cow in the milking stall, she may fight and kick in her efforts to get out. The stall should be narrow enough that the animal cannot turn around.

Okay, the day (or night) has come when it’s time to put the calf in the calf pen. The easiest way to do this is to lure the cow inside with some grain, and the calf will follow. Have another person restrain the calf while you shove the cow back out, and lock the gate.

When you build your calf pen and milking stall, put them side-by-side. This will be calming for both cow and calf. The calf pen should allow the calves to be visible and “smellable” to the cow, but not “nursable.” The animals should be able to touch noses but the calf should not be able to reach the cow’s udder.

Don’t be misled by the idea that if the calf is “out of sight, out of mind,” then the cow will settle down quicker. Trust me, it doesn’t work that way. The cow will go crazy looking for her calf if you’ve built the calf pen any distance away. If you put the calf pen where the cow can sniff her baby, she’ll be annoyed at the separation but not frantic.

Get ready for incredible noise the first night the calf is separated from its mother. The calf will bleat and cry. The cow will bellow like crazy. Any other animals in the vicinity will bellow in sympathy. It will sound like Jurassic Park in the barn.

The next morning, with trembling heart, you will go to the barn to milk your cow. Remember, this will not go smoothly. Indeed, it may be so frustrating that you’re tempted to give up. Don’t.

The cow, having bellowed all night, will be in a bad mood. She will also be uncomfortable because her udder is full (plus she hates being separated from her calf). So when you first put her in the milking stall and actually have the audacity to touch her udder, she’ll kick and swipe and thunder around. Don’t be intimidated by the cow’s restlessness and attempts to get out of the stall. Just let her thrash it out—and don’t, under any circumstances, let her out before you’re ready. Otherwise, the cow will learn that if she acts obnoxious, you’ll get frustrated and let her loose. Bad lesson for a cow to learn. You’ll be lucky to get three ounces of milk this first day. Don’t worry, things will get better.

And—no matter how much your cow thrashes and kicks—never, ever hit her. Believe me, the temptation to punch your cow when she’s misbehaving can be overwhelming. Resist. You never want your cow to associate anything negative while she’s in the milking stall.

Be sure your milking stall is sturdy. Anything of flimsy construction will be shaken or kicked apart while your cow is getting used to being milked.

The milking stall we’ve built is made to reduce the likelihood that I’ll be kicked. It has an “opening” through which I lean to reach the udder, but it won’t enable a stray hoof to lash out and hit me in the face.

I’ve only been kicked once, when I tried to pick up a front hoof to see if it needed trimming. I got clocked above the left eye, an event that tumbled me backwards off the milking crate and left me with a beautiful shiner. The temptation to haul off and slug that stupid cow was strong—but I resisted. Again, don’t ever hit your cow.

How long does it take a cow to learn to behave in the milking stall? I’d say two weeks maximum, and quite likely less. By that time she’ll learn that the sooner she behaves, the sooner the milking will be over. She’ll stand quietly (though she may bellow) and let you finish the job as quickly as possible. The moment you’re done, of course, reward her for her good behavior by letting her out of the stall and opening the calf pen.

I use an old plastic crate for sitting on while milking, the kind that they use to transport dairy products to the grocery store. We found a bunch at a thrift store and find them useful for this purpose.

The milking

Put some—not lots—of grain into the grain bin in the milking stall, and lock the cow in.

Before milking, take a bowl of hot water mixed with a few drops of bleach, and an old dishcloth. Swab the udder in order to wash off any dirt or dried manure that may have adhered, paying special attention to washing the teats (I use hot water because I hate the thought of swabbing the udder with cold water, especially if it’s a cold morning). Then give each teat about three good squeezes, letting the milk just fall to the ground. This gets rid of any bacteria-laden milk that may have accumulated in the teat during the night. The rest of the milk in the udder will be sterile.

The old joke says that some of the teats give chocolate milk, others give vanilla. This actually isn’t too far from the truth: The first milk coming out of the udder is skim milk the hind milk, coming out as the udder is going dry, is pure cream. So milk the udder as dry as you can, and your milk will be richer. Obviously, this won’t happen the first day.

The first urge most people have when faced with a cow’s udder is to pull on the teats in an effort to get the milk out. For God’s sake, don’t pull—squeeze.

The proper technique is to grasp the top part of the teat between the thumb and first finger and squeeze tightly. This traps the milk in the teat and it won’t squish upwards as you squeeze downward. Don’t be dainty or afraid that a tight squeeze will hurt the cow—it won’t (you should see what the calf does!).

Now bring the rest of your fingers in, one at a time, together in a downward direction, squeezing (not pulling!) as you go. You’ll be rewarded with a squirt of warm milk into your bucket.

Remember, don’t pull, or you might be rewarded with a kick from an annoyed cow. (I don’t know about you, but if someone tried to pull on my teat, I’d kick them, too.)

Here’s another little trick I’ve learned: Cows kick. Most don’t kick to hurt you they “swipe” with a hind leg, as if to dislodge an irritating fly. But of course, if the milking bucket is down there, they kick the bucket, so to speak.

So I don’t use a milking bucket, at least not directly under the udder. Instead, I milk one-handedly into a smaller plastic container, then empty the milk into a bucket that’s well away from the cow’s feet. This way, if the cow swipes and I’m not quick enough to yank the container away, I’ve only lost a few ounces rather than the whole morning’s milking.

You might have the world’s most docile animal who would never dream of swiping with a hind leg and kicking over the bucket. If so, good for you—you can merely pull your milking stool next to the cow, place the bucket directly beneath the udder, and have at it.

My cows aren’t like that, so I milk with one hand at a time. The two back teats are easier to milk with my left hand, and the two front teats with my right, so I can trade off without either hand getting too tired.

And don’t give up. Honestly, it gets better and easier. Right now, for instance, it takes me about two minutes to get six animals settled in the barn at night, when I open the gate to the corral (one horse, a bull, two cows, two calves). They all sort themselves into where they’re supposed to go, settle down to eat the modest proportion of grain I give them, I latch the calf pen, and everyone’s happy. Our routine in the morning, including milking both cows, takes less than half an hour. Everyone knows what to do, everyone is comfortable, and all is peaceful.

Remember, cows—like all livestock—are creatures of extreme habit. They do their best when their daily routine varies very little. While you don’t have to be rigid in when you milk your cow in the morning (within reason), you should do your best to be rigid in what you do every morning. Cows do best when they know what to expect.

Weaning and breeding

Won’t milking in the morning mean there isn’t enough milk left for the calf? In a word, no.

Any (human) mother who has ever breastfed her babies knows that her milk production adjusts to the needs of the child. The more she is “milked,” the more milk she produces. Breastfeeding mothers recognize the “let down” sensation while nursing their babies, after which milk flow increases.

Same with cows. As far as the cow is concerned, you are just another (less attractive) calf demanding milk from her, and her body will adjust accordingly. Frequently during the milking, you can feel the cow’s udder start to fill up. Milk the udder as dry as you can.

The moment the calf is let loose, he starts to butt the cow’s udder in a way that looks terrifically painful but isn’t. It’s the signal to the cow that she should “let down” more milk. Within moments the calf is happily nursing, getting as much milk as he needs.

Keep in mind that cows have a lactation cycle. Cows do not uniformly produce the same quantity of milk, day after day, week after week. Rather, their milk production adjusts to the needs of their calf. The amount of milk cows give also varies from day to day (I always think of days with less milk as “bad hair days” for the cows). They give less milk during their heat cycles as well.

The lactation cycle runs as a bell curve, peaking when the calf is about a month old and gradually decreasing until such time as the calf is weaned.

You should breed back your cows when the calves are about three months old, using either a bull or artificial insemination. A cow’s gestation lasts about nine months and ten days. By breeding your cows when the calves are about three months old, the cows will have their calves about the same time every year. Personally, I like to breed my cows in September or October so they’ll have their calves in June or July. In our climate, where spring can be cold, I like having the calves born in warmer weather, but early enough in the season that they can grow and put on body fat before the harsh winter sets in.

Don’t anthropomorphize your cows. When I mentioned to my mother that cows should be bred back when the calves are three months old, she was horrified that the poor cow would be subjected to pregnancy so soon after giving birth (my mother, let it be known, had difficult pregnancies and labors). However, cows aren’t people. They are happiest and calmest when they are either pregnant or have a calf to occupy them.

Should you wean the calf at a certain age? I was convinced you were “supposed” to do this before the cow got pregnant again otherwise, it would stress the cow to be pregnant with a new calf while still nursing an older calf.

So we tried force-weaning our first calf by separating him from the cow. Suffice it to say it was a nightmare. In their efforts to get to each other, the cow and calf crashed through fences, gates, barn doors, and any other obstacle we could rig up. The noise was incredible. I was afraid the animals would injure themselves trying to get through the various barriers we installed. And it takes about a month, I’m told, to fully wean a calf! How on earth could we keep this up for a month?

Finally I called a cow-owning friend and asked if I could board the calf at her farm until the weaning was completed. My friend stopped me dead in my tracks with one simple question: “Why are you trying to wean the calf?”

“Well, um…” I finally stammered, “…because you’re supposed to? I mean, won’t it stress the cow too much to be simultaneously nursing a calf and being pregnant?”

“Well, how much stress is she under while you try to keep the calf separated?”

I had to admit that they were tremendously stressed out by the procedure.

“Are you satisfied with the amount of milk you’re getting from milking just in the morning?”

“Look,” my friend explained. “The cow will kick the calf off when she’s ready. Don’t worry, she knows what she’s doing.”

So trust your cow. She knows when it’s best to kick the calf away in plenty of time to marshal her resources for the growing fetus. By not force-weaning your calf, you reduce the stress level for you, the cow, and the calf. Besides, I see it as a more “natural” (I hate that word) cycle for your livestock.

What to do with the milk

What do you do once you have all that milk in a bucket? If you look at it, you might be appalled by the miscellaneous straw, cow hairs, or other incidental debris. (This is why commercial dairies don’t milk by hand.) Your next step is to strain the milk.

Straining is very simple. Cut up an old sheet or piece of muslin into squares large enough to line a colander. Dampen the muslin, line a colander with it, and place the colander over a clean container. Then simply pour the milk into the cloth-lined colander. What emerges is pure, clean milk.

Now, here’s another trick: Put the milk, uncapped, in the freezer for one hour, before capping it and putting it in the fridge. I’ve found that if you have a problem with a “cow-y” odor to the milk, the freezer trick tends to eliminate it.

After about a day, enough cream will have risen to the surface that you can skim it (or, as I do, suck it off with a turkey baster). The uses for cream, of course, are endless.

Impress your friends

That’s it. While this sounds complex, once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder why you ever dreaded the idea of milking your cow. It goes without saying that everyone’s techniques, circumstances, set-up, and styles are different. You’ll settle into your own style once you get the hang of it. This information is meant to reassure you that milking your cow is do-able.

Plus you can impress the heck out of people. Recently at a writer’s conference, I was introduced to an author I admire. As we shook hands, she commented on the strong grip I had. I smiled sheepishly and replied, “I milk cows.” Her eyes widened, and she gasped, “You milk cows?” Turns out this woman admired the Simple Living concept but had never met anyone who actually lived it. While I was impressed to meet her, apparently she was also impressed to meet me.

So, go milk your cow. You’ll amaze the heck out of your city friends.


Dairy cattle should consume enough forage material – pasture grasses, fodder, and silage – to meet their daily caloric requirements. This can be achieved through grazing, using feeding equipment, or a combination of both. Common wet and dry forage materials include corn, barley, hay, alfalfa, and pasture grasses.

Learn how to determine forage quality, and understand forage ranking quality factors. Use our resources to get actionable insights on pasture quality and dairy grazing management.

To ensure the health and productivity of their cattle, dairy producers add various supplements and additives to the feed. High-energy supplements are often used for pasture-based nutritional systems, as are fat and alternative forage supplements.

Adequate intake of clean water is just as important as feeding for healthy cattle and milk production. You can find more information on cattle water requirements here, and get advice on watering systems in the Dairy Facilities and Milking Equipment section.

Feeding cows the right amount of food in the right combination helps them to maintain a healthy weight. Underweight or malnourished cows are unlikely to produce a high volume of good milk. Body condition scoring can help you determine whether a cow is at a healthy weight.


Training the Determined Kicker

Lee Anne B., moderator of the wonderful Keeping a Family Cow online forum, has found a less invasive training trick that has been highly successful for her and others. She describes it thus:

&ldquoRun a broom handle into the middle finger of an old winter glove, and duct-tape it on securely. Secure your recalcitrant cow in her stanchion or tie-up, and stand near her shoulder, out of kicking range. With the end of the broom handle in your hand, and the body of the handle near her belly, place the &ldquoglove on a stick&rdquo against her udder. She can kick all she likes without risk of injury to you, and no matter how much she kicks, the &ldquoglove on a stick&rdquo will not go away. If she kicks it out of your hand, just pick it up and put it right back. It may take two minutes, or it may take twenty, but eventually she will settle down and stop kicking. Praise her gently, stroke her shoulder, and, still holding the end of the stick, rub the glove all over her udder, teats, belly, and back legs. Use the glove to touch her calmly but purposefully everywhere you will touch her when you are milking. If she kicks, hold the glove in that spot until she stops, and then rub it over the spot that gave her offense until she accepts it calmly. Then take a few deep breaths, grab your stool and bucket, and get to milking!&rdquo

The kick of a cow is never, so far as I know, fatal, and seldom even seriously dangerous, but it can certainly make milking impossible. Unlike a horse, a cow is not an athlete. Her kick is analogous to what a human can do without bending the knee. If truly angry or frightened, she can kick backward with her front leg using a short flipping motion.

She can also whip her tail around. This can be annoying. In desperation you can tie it down to her off hind leg. If you tie it to the wall instead, use a light string that will break away. Otherwise someday you&rsquoll forget to untie it when you let her out and her tail will break when she walks away. Resist the temptation to cut off the tail hair (called her switch). When it reaches to the ground it is just long enough so she can flick flies off her withers. The hair grows back very slowly. It may take a year to grow out. If it is dirty, it is preferable to soak or comb it clean rather than cutting it. This may not seem important in winter, when the switch is most likely to get filthy. But if she can&rsquot switch flies to her satisfaction, next summer she will spend a lot of time hiding in the shade when she ought to be grazing.

Dairy cows have been bred for centuries not only for milk production but for good temperament. As with all creatures, there are different dispositions, and if you have ended up with a truly intractable cow, get rid of her. Most dairy cows, while kicking occasionally, are pretty cooperative and kick only when they think they have a good reason.


How To Make Easy Vanilla Ice-cream | Quick And Easy Vanilla Ice-cream Recipe:

  • Boil full cream milk on medium flame. Take 4-5 spoon milk in a bowl and keep side.
  • In that bowl of milk, add custard powder and mix. If there's no custard powder around, replace it with corn flour.
  • In the boiling milk, add sugar and custard powder mix and stir continuously to avoid any lump.
  • When the milk thickens, switch off the flame and add vanilla essence.
  • Add malai, mix everything together and transfer it to an airtight container.
  • Add a plastic sheet or foil on the box before closing the lid. Now, refrigerate for 3 hours.
  • After 3 hours, take it out and pour the ice-cream in a blender and blend. This will help adding extra creaminess to the dish.
  • Again, transfer it to the box and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

And your creamy, soft and melting-in-mouth vanilla ice-cream is all set to be relished. Have it as is or garnish with nuts, chocolate sauce or anything of your choice and indulge.

For a detailed recipe, check out this video shared by vlogger Parul on her YouTube channel 'Cook With Parul':

About Somdatta Saha Explorer- this is what Somdatta likes to call herself. Be it in terms of food, people or places, all she craves for is to know the unknown. A simple aglio olio pasta or daal-chawal and a good movie can make her day.


According to professor of evidence based medicine at Oxford Dr. Carl Heneghan , who is also an emergency GP, most diabetic, heart disease & alzheimer's deaths were categorized as COVID deaths in the United Kingdom.

How many deaths have actually been a result of COVID? Why is this pandemic surrounded with so much controversy? Why does mainstream media fail at having appropriate conversations about 'controversial' evidence/opinions?

Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Dr. Carl Heneghan has an interesting view on the pandemic, not only is he a professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, he also works Saturday shifts as an emergency GP. This allows him to see healthcare from both the academic perspective as well as the healthcare experience, more specifically, it allows him to see COVID from both perspectives.

What Happened: In a recent article he wrote for The Spectator, he writes the following,

It’s hard to imagine, let alone measures, the side effects of lockdowns. The risk with the government’s ‘fear’ messaging is that people become so worried about burdening the NHS that they avoid seeking medical help. Or by the time they do so, it can be too late. The big rise in at-home deaths (still ongoing) points to that. You will be familiar with the Covid death toll, updated in the papers every day. But did you know that since the pandemic, we’ve had 28,200 more deaths among diabetics that we’d normally expect? That’s not the kind of figure they show on a graph at No. 10 press conference. For people with heart disease, it’s 17,100. For dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s 22,800. Most were categorised as Covid deaths: people can die with multiple conditions, so they can fall into more than one of these categories. It’s a complicated picture. But that’s the problem in assessing lockdown. you need to do a balance of risks.

Evidence-based medicine might sound like a tautology — what kind of medicine isn’t based on evidence? I’m afraid that you’d be surprised. Massive decisions are often taken on misleading, low-quality evidence. We see this all the time. In the last pandemic, the swine flu outbreak of 2009, I did some work asking why the government spent £500 million on Tamiflu: then hailed as a wonder drug. In fact, it proved to have a very limited effect. The debate then had many of the same cast of characters as today: Jonathan Van-Tam, Neil Ferguson and others. The big difference this time is the influence of social media, whose viciousness is something to behold. It’s easy to see why academics would self-censor and stay away from the debate, especially if it means challenging a consensus.

This is something that’s been a concern since the beginning of the pandemic. For example, a report published during the first wave in the British Medical Journal titled Covid-19: “Staggering number” of extra deaths in community is not explained by covid-19″ has suggested that quarantine measures in the United Kingdom, as a result of the new coronavirus, may have already killed more UK seniors than the coronavirus has during the months of April and May.

According to the data, COVID-19, at the time of publication, only accounted for 10,000 of the 30,000 excess deaths that have been recorded in senior care facilities during the height of the pandemic. The article quotes British Health officials stating that these unexplained deaths may have occurred because quarantine measures have prevented seniors from accessing the health care that they need.

Fast forward to more recent research regarding lockdowns, and these concerns have grown. Professor Anna-Mia Ekström and Professor Stefan Swartling Peterson have gone through the data from UNICEF and UNAIDS, and came to the conclusion that at least as many people have died as a result of the restrictions to fight COVID as have died of COVID. You can read more about that here.

These are just a few of many examples. You can read more about the hypothesized “catastrophic” impacts of lockdown, here.

When it comes to what he mentions about academics shying away from debate, especially if their research goes against the grain, we’ve a seen a lot of that too. Here’s a great example you can read about from Sweden regarding zero deaths of school children during the first wave despite no masks mandates or lockdown measures. Jonas F Ludvigsson, a paediatrician at Örebro University Hospital and professor of clinical epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute is quitting his work on COVID-19 because of harassment from people who dislike what he has discovered.

Why This Is Important: Heneghan’s words are something that many people have been concerned about when it comes to the deaths that are attributed to COVID-19. How many of them are actually a result of COVID? The truth seems to be that we don’t really know. But one thing we do know is that total death toll caused by COVID doesn’t seem to be quite accurate.

That being said, we do know that people with comorbidities are more susceptible to illness and death from COVID, and that’s something to keep in mind. For people with underlying health conditions, covid, just like flu or pneumonia, can be fatal.

Ontario (Canada) Public Health has a page on their website titled “How Ontario is responding to COVID-19.” On it, they clearly state that deaths are being marked as COVID deaths and are being included in the COVID death count regardless of whether or not COVID actually contributed to or caused the death. They state the following:

Any case marked as “Fatal” is included in the deaths data. Deaths are included whether or not COVID-19 was determined to be a contributing or underlying cause of death…”

This statement from Ontario Public Health echoes statements made multiple times by Canadian public health agencies and personnel. According to Ontario Ministry Health Senior Communications Advisor Anna Miller:

As a result of how data is recorded by health units into public health information databases, the ministry is not able to accurately separate how many people died directly because of COVID versus those who died with a COVID infection.

“Individuals who have died with COVID-19, but not as a result of COVID-19 are included in the case counts for COVID-19 deaths in Toronto.”

It’s not just in Canada where we’ve seen these types of statements being made, it’s all over the world. There are multiple examples from the United States that we’ve covered since the start of the pandemic.

For example, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health stated the following during the first wave of the pandemic:

If you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live and then you were also found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death, despite if you died of a clear alternative cause it’s still listed as a COVID death. So, everyone who is listed as a COVID death that doesn’t mean that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of death.

Also during the first wave, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had to announce a change to how it tallies coronavirus deaths due to complaints that it inflated the numbers.

As you can see, we’ve struggled to find an accurate way to go about tallying COVID deaths since the start, creating more fear and hysteria around total numbers that are plastered constantly in front of citizens by news stations. That being said, a lot of people who are dying of COVID do have co-morbidities as well. But as the professor says, “it’s a complicated picture” and hard to figure out, and probably something we will never figure out.

There’s been a lot of “fear mongering” by governments and mainstream media, and some believe that lockdowns and masks are simply being used as a psychological tool to keep that fear constant, which in turn makes it easier to control people and make them comply.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of experts in the field who are pointing to the fact that yes, COVID is dangerous, but it does not at all warrant the measures that are being taken, especially when the virus has a 99.95 percent survival rate for people over the age of 70. There are better ways to protect the vulnerable without creating even more chaos that lockdown measures have created, and are creating throughout this pandemic.

That said, it’s also important to note that some calls for lockdown measures are focused on stopping hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. Why do some places with very restrictions see no hospital capacity issues? Why do some places with a lot of restrictions see hospital capacity issues? Why do we also see the opposite for both in some areas? These questions appear to be unanswered still. That being said. Hospitals have always been overwhelmed. This is not a new phenomenon.

The main issue here is not who is right or wrong, it’s the censorship of data, science, and opinions of experts in the field. The censorship that has occurred during this pandemic has been unprecedented.

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. COVID-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science. – Dr. Kamran Abbasi, recent executive editor of the prestigious British Medical Journal (source)

This censorship alone has been an excellent catalyst for people to question what we are constantly hearing from mainstream media, government, and political scientists. Any type of information that calls into question the recommendations or the information we are receiving from our government seems to be subjected to this type of censorship. Mainstream media has done a great job at not acknowledging many aspects of this pandemic, like clinically proven treatments other than a vaccine, and therefore the masses are completely unaware of it.

Is this what we would call ethical? When trying to explain this to a friend or family member, the fact that they are not aware of these other pieces of information, because they may be avid mainstream news watchers, has them in disbelief and perhaps even sometimes labelling such assertions as a “conspiracy theory.” This Brings me to my next point.

The Takeaway: As I’ve said in a number of articles before, society is failing to have conversations about “controversial” topics and viewpoints. This is in large part due to the fact that mainstream media does such a poor job at covering these viewpoints let alone acknowledging them. The fact that big media has such a stranglehold over the minds of many is also very concerning, because we are living in a time where independent research may be more useful. There seems to be massive conflicts of interest within mainstream media, and the fact that healthy conversation and debate is being shut down by mainstream media contributes to the fact that we can’t even have normal conversations about controversial topics in our everyday lives.

Why does this happen? Why can’t we see the perspective of another? To be honest, I still sometimes struggle with this. When it comes to COVID, things clearly aren’t as black and white as they’re being made out to be, and as I’ve said many times before when things aren’t clear, and when government mandates oppose the will of so many people, it reaches a point where they become authoritarian and overreaching.

In such circumstances I believe governments should simply be making recommendations and explaining why certain actions might be important, and then leave it to the people to decide for themselves what measures they’d like to take, if any. What do you think? One thing is for certain, COVID has been a catalyst for more and more people to question the world we live in, and why we live the way that we do.

To help make sense of what’s happening in our society today, we have released a course on overcoming bias and improving critical thinking. It’s an 8 module course and you can learn more about it here.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino


Watch the video: Η Νόσος Των Τρελών Αγελάδων-Discovery Channel (December 2021).