How To Milk a Cow that Kicks


| 4/16/2014 9:43:00 AM


Tags: milking, dairy cows, Steve Judge, Vermont,

People who haven't ever milked a cow are usually very concerned about being kicked when they milk for the first time. This is understandable.  Cows are big, powerful animals, and milking puts you right beside the strong hind legs and feet.  Most properly handled cows don't kick when they are milked.  If you find yourself with what I call a kicky cow, there are steps you can take to manage the animal. Here are my tips for avoiding getting kicked and dealing with a kick-prone cow.

milking a cowMove slowly. When you approach a cow to milk her move slowly and be gentle.  Give her a little pat on the rump, be alert and avoid sudden movements.  Be confident and show no fear.  If this is a cow you have never milked before, spend some time with her before you begin the milking process.  Put your hands on her hind legs and udder to see how she reacts.  Kneel down beside her and check her udder and teats for swelling and or injuries.  Almost every cow will kick when milked if her udder and/or teats are sore.

Know your cow’s movements. If a healthy, mature cow kicks when she is being prepped for milking, it is usually because she is just annoyed — at you for bothering her.  She is not trying to hurt you.  She's just letting you know that she's there. These kicks are slower, softer and much easier to control than the kick from a cow that truly wants to hurt you.  Experienced milkers can usually predict a cow's "slow" kick.  She will shift her balance to her the hind foot that is away from you so she can kick you without falling over. 

Stay calm and get close. This may sound counter-intuitive to people who have little experience with cows, but when you go to prep and milk a kicky cow, it is much safer to stay as close as possible to her body and hind legs.  Approach your cow confidently and carefully. Kneel down beside her, get close and reassure her that you know what you are doing, even if you don't.

Lean in with your shoulder and rest your head on her flank in front of her stifle. This way, she doesn't have the room to wind her leg up and kick out.  If she tries to kick, use your shoulders and forearms as a block. In general, it never works to milk a cow from afar with your arms stretched out.  This freaks the cow out and you just look dumb.

miling a cow




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