Family Milk Cow 102: Chapter 3

March 20th, 2010 by Kim

Here’s this month’s final chapter.  Time to get ready to motor.

Chapter 3:  Getting Home

The divider in this slant load is too high for our Dexters & needs to be kept swung away.

Once you’ve made a final decision on which cow to purchase, you’ll need to make arrangements to get her home.  If you don’t own or have access to a suitable trailer, you can either ask the seller if they’re willing to transport the cow for you (and you need to be willing to pay them for it) or look into a transport company.  If you’ll be hauling her yourself, here are some ideas to help you have a good trip.

The Trailer:

Any safe stock, horse or combo trailer will be fine for your new bovine to travel in, just be sure to check for any places where she could get hurt.  Either a ramp or a step-up will work, but if you have a step-up trailer try to park for loading in a place where your cow will have the shortest step possible, as a high step is not as easy for cows as it is for longer-legged horses. If you’re using a horse trailer, check the height of any dividers compared to your cow – especially if you’re getting a mini breed.  You don’t want her to try to duck under a divider & get stuck or seriously injured.  If the dividers can swing away it’s probably best to do so.  It also helps with loading to have interior lighting, because cows have limited depth perception which makes them unsure about going from well-lit surroundings into dark.  And if you’re going to be hauling in nasty weather, you’ll need to consider the wind chill factor your cow will be dealing with in a more open stock trailer, and think of a way to offer some extra protection.

Parked with tires in a low spot for a short step up. Dogs should be kept away from the area.

The Trip:

Getting your new purchase in the trailer is the first step of your journey home.  This should be fairly easily accomplished, assuming she’s been adequately handled and/or halter-trained.  The seller should be willing to help with this process, whether she’s loaded by halter, “bucket leading”, or shooing-in from a corral or chute.  Make sure she has some hay to munch, then give her a little time to settle in a bit before hitting the road.  You shouldn’t have to tie the cow, unless you’re using a really big trailer in which she could move around too much, and besides, given adequate bedding in the trailer, some cows will choose to lay down on a long trip.

Eavie walks calmly & willingly onto the trailer on halter.

You’ll need to drive very carefully with your live cargo.  Starts, stops & turns need to be made gently to avoid throwing her around.  If you have a long trip, it’ll be nice for her (and you) to have a break midway.  When leaving her parked in warm weather, find a shady spot – a trailer can really heat up quickly in the sun.  This is also a good time to offer a bucket of water.

Finally Home:

Even a good trip will be stressful for your cow.  Her whole life is changing.  Have a nice,

GOT MILK!

comfy, secure place ready for her when you get home.  Unload & stay with her awhile to make sure she’s accepting of her new surroundings.  Then give her a week or two to get acquainted with you & any new pasture mates (through the fence) before turning her out to explore her new home.

CONGRATULATIONS! You’re the proud new owner of a family milk cow!

4 Responses to “Family Milk Cow 102: Chapter 3”

  1. Susan Lea Says:

    Does this mean you got a new milk cow?

  2. kim Says:

    No, Susan, we didn’t get a new cow – I hope I’m done buying cows for awhile. We hitched up the trailer & cleaned up Eavie a little, then went to the front yard & played around with trailer loading for a photo shoot. She behaved beautifully, so then I hand-grazed her in the nice spring grass along the outside of the pasture fence. 🙂

  3. Susan Says:

    Thanks for the info. This has been very helpful. Do you have any recommendations on milking machines to fit the dexters?

  4. kim Says:

    I know people use any number of different bucket milkers with their Dexters & I’ve heard of someone using a goat milker – you just have to do 2 quarters at a time. We have a ’50’s vintage Surge “belly milker” that hangs from a surcingle right under the cow’s belly. We were advised to get goat sized inflations for it & we had shorten the surcingle, but it works great (as long as the cow isn’t TOO short). I love it!

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