How to Keep Your Dairy Animals Clean When Milking, Part 2

| 1/15/2015 10:09:00 AM

Tags: Bob White Systems, livestock, dairy, Nick Zigelbaum, Vermont,

If you’ve read the last post, Making Clean Raw Milk, Part 1: A Simple Guide for Small-Scale Dairies, you’ll know what clean milk is and how to find a healthy animal to start your herd. In this post I will describe how to milk your cow or goat and process that milk in a manner that keeps it clean.

Creating a Clean Space to Milk

There are many ways to lay out a milk parlor and each has pros and cons depending on the number of cows and style of milking (by hand or by machine). I milk two cows by hand in a 12-foot by 12-foot stall. Steve Judge, founder of Bob-White Systems, milks up to four cows in tie stalls with a machine and pipeline. However you lay out your milk parlor, make sure you have a method of keeping things clean. My cows stand on wood chips and are only in the stall for milking. I muck their stall daily. In barns with concrete floors, where cows tend to spend more time, there is often a manure trough behind the cows that sweeps manure outside onto a pile as often as you like. Whatever your method, removing manure and soiled bedding from the milk parlor is an important step to keeping the milking area clean. I also prefer a sand or dirt floor to allow moisture to drain away, but a concrete floor can be cleaned more easily if your cows are in there for many days. Airflow is also important to keep the buildup of dust and moisture to a minimum. Cows also like an open space and will more readily walk into your parlor if it doesn’t look like a dark dead-end.

Courtesy Savanah Loftus and Longest Acres Farm

 Courtesy Steven Judge Bob-White Systems Barn

Courtesy Farm of Milk and Honey 

It may be a bit of challenge and perhaps an issue of cost or spacing, but it’s best to keep all other animals out of the milking parlor. Chickens often carry campylobacter, a very common bacteria that causes gastrointestinal issues. Many illnesses associated with raw and pasteurized milk are from campylobacter and can be as mild as one case of diarrhea. But some can be life-threatening. It’s best to keep them out of the milking parlor.

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