Tuesday 31 December 2013

"Drying off" Pia : A holiday from milking

Pia (at the back) celebrating
Pia the British Toggenburg started milking on 4th March 2013, 294 days ago. Since then we have recorded her milk yield at every milking; she has produced 745kg, three quarters of a tonne of milk. Now its time for a rest before she kids again on 27th March. A hormone assay of her blood sample that Kenny the Vet took before Christmas shows that she is pregnant but we don't know how many kids she'll have, that will have to wait until the ewes are scanned in February.

After ten months milking she needs to build up her reserves of body fat and to grow the foetus ( or foetuses, we don't know how many yet) before giving birth. We started the "drying off" process this week by reducing her concentrate feed to about 0.5 kg sugar beet pulp. She gets as much good quality hay as she can eat.

Next we stopped milking in the evening. When the udder is overstocked (full) and not milked out there is a negative feedback system of hormones that tells the brain, "don't produce so much milk".

Two weeks from now we'll milk on alternate days and then around the end of the month stop milking entirely. All of the time she has to be monitored for mastitis (bacterial infection of the udder). At this point we will infuse each teat with a long acting antibiotic to further combat mastitis and she will have two months off , eating and idling before the next lactation.


Unknown said...

Happy New Year Tom and thank you for your most informative blog.Roll on June and our annual visit to Branault.

Michael said...

Yes Happy New Year Tom, always enjoy the blog.

Nic said...

Best wishes for 2014 - I hope the rest of the winter is kind to you. I really enjoy reading your and the Kilchoan blogs.