Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Plummy sprung a leak!

Ever since reducing Plum to one milking a day, she's been giving 4 to 4.5 cups a day.  Last week, when the weather became unseasonably warm, the does began lounging outside on the warm, dry ground.  Their stall is still bedded very, very deeply with over a foot of bedding, mostly wasted hay, that keeps them up off the  frozen ground all winter, but when it is warm enough, they prefer to sleep and lie down for cud chewing right on the dirt.
I went to get Plum for her early afternoon milking and she was resting outside in her favorite spot, inside a failed hay rack experiment.  This was something I built from scraps based on a design I found online, a large rack to hold an entire bale or two of hay.  The does pulled the entire bale out of the rack within minutes...so I dragged it outside and started to dismantle it.  They loved going into it to nap, so there it has remained for a couple of years, and in good weather there is almost always a doe inside it, contentedly cud-chewing.

As I approached, I noticed a white puddle of milk in front of her udder.  She was leaking, and quite a bit.  I milked her, and got the usual 4.5 cups.  How odd.  I've seen does (and mares) squirt milk with each step as their thigh puts pressure on the udder, but only when they are just about to deliver their offspring or just before being milked when at peak capacity a month or two into the lactation.  I've never seen a puddle near a resting doe 9 months into a lactation. 

The same thing happened the next day.  I started milking her twice a day, and am averaging 7 cups total.  Now I am convinced that she's been leaking all along, I just never saw it because it was in the deep bedding of the stall.  Also, the hens will come along and clean up anything and everything, and they love anything dairy.

So my break from twice daily milking chores is over, three weeks sooner than planned.  I am guessing that Plum's first-freshener (first lactation) udder is simply not developed enough to hold much milk, and she doesn't create a strong enough keratin plug after being milked to contain the overflow and stretch out her udder.  Just a guess.  She is now making up for about half of what Mya gave, without any additional feed costs, so it is a gain for us.  And for Plum.  She now gets two meals daily on the milking stand and gets fussed over twice and told how lovely she is.....she's thrilled!

Bored?  Me?  Never!

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