There is a time when your family dairy cow will need to slow down on milk production, like when considering the best thing for her (health-wise). And there will be a time when you will need to step it up in between nursing calves. However, as anyone who’s had a cow will tell you, milking can get tedious. There’s definitely a learning curve to hand milking if you’ve never done it before.
Plus, hand milking takes a lot of time and isn’t always the most hygienic option. Many homesteaders use technology for faster, better milking.
A faster, cleaner option
Dairy cows require daily milkings to stay comfortable and to have a regular milk supply. But what if you don’t have the time to milk your cow by hand?
Don’t spend 20 minutes milking by hand. Cow milkers are a fast, efficient solution to time-consuming milkings.
This technology means you can multitask as you milk your dairy cow, which takes about 5 minutes with a milker. Milkers milk all four quarters of the cow’s udder, which is double the efficiency of hand milking.
Hygiene is key with milking, both for the cow and the people consuming her milk. Your hands and a cow’s udder have bacteria, straw, and fecal matter on them. You don’t want that in your milk! Milkers enclose and seal the milk to prevent contamination.
Hygienic milker practices
Although milkers are faster and cleaner, they do require a lot of maintenance. You need to regularly clean your milker to protect your cow’s health and to ensure her milk is fit for human consumption.
Check your milker after every milking. You’ll need to wash the milk lines, receivers, claws, and hoses every day to keep it clean. Look for any tears in the system that could lead to a breach.
Because milkers require a lot of time to clean, we recommend getting a milker if you have at least two dairy cows.
Milk machines can be expensive. Weigh the pros and cons of cleaning the machine versus hand milking to know whether a milker is right for you.
A tale of two milkers
If you’re in the market for a milker, we’ve picked two of our favorites. We recommend single cow milkers for smaller homesteads where you don’t need to milk more than one cow at once. Both milkers have different features, so choose the option that makes the most sense for your homestead.
Homesteader’s Supply Single Cow Milker Complete will set you back $1,752.35. They offer financing, though, which starts as low as $48 a month.
Homesteader’s Supply says their milker is designed to milk one cow at a time. Because of this, it’s lightweight and easy to move around.
This milker comes with two parts: the pump and the bucket where the milk collects.
The milker features a 35-pound bucket with a quiet 3 / 4 horsepower Gast pump. There’s no need to oil the machine, which makes it easier to maintain. The tank is stainless steel and comes with a clear window for you to see inside.
Homesteader’s Supply milker is made in the USA.
Homesteader Supply offers free shipping to the lower 48 states through UPS.
Includes a one-year warranty.
Bob White Systems
Bob White Systems Complete Cow Milking System goes for $1,690. This milker is more customizable than Homesteader’s Supply. If you want a system that can grow to accommodate more than one cow at a time, this may be the better system for you.
Choose from a 35, 55, or 75-pound bucket with this system. You can choose a 3 / 4 horsepower or 1 horsepower vacuum pump.
Bob White’s milker does come with more customizable features as well as add-ons like equipment cleaner, filters, and brushes. If you want to be able to milk your cow with an out-of-the-box solution, this kit has more of the essentials.
Although this milker is a little cheaper than Homesteading Supply, pay attention to shipping costs. They offer free in-store pickup, but it costs a pretty penny to pay for shipping (anywhere from $80 – $800 depending on your location and shipping method). Check your shipping options to see what the true total will be.
Includes a one-year warranty
The bottom line
Milkers are a great way to keep your cow happy, save time, and keep your milk clean. It’s a big investment, so weigh the pros and cons of using a milker on your homestead; choose the option that works best for you and your beloved dairy cow.