A week ago, for no reason I could see, Grace the cow started kicking the two calves I recently put on her to nurse twice a day. It wasn't a gentle kick, either, but a carefully aimed attempt at murder. Calves being persistent, neither of them gave up. They did get pretty punchy, though, dodging at the first hint that the cow was going to lift a foot, so I started putting her in the stanchion in the barn and putting the kicker on her. If she had shown this behavior when I first put the new calves on her, it would have made sense, but for her to wait over two weeks and then turn on them threw me for a loop.
Until I milked her to get a gallon of milk for the house.
Both of Gracie's back teats have abrasions and cuts on them. She didn't kick at me as I milked, since my hands squeezing the milk out of her didn't feel the same as the calves' teeth when they were nursing. Cattle only have bottom teeth in front, and those bottom teeth had worn big sores on the back of that poor cow's hind teats. I took a towel out to the barn, dried the cows teats off with it after the calves were done, and applied Udder Balm, but that didn't seem to be helping, with them nursing every twelve hours.
So I've decided to take all the milk out of those back teats twice a day, then let the calves in to suck the front ones, which still gives them each over two quarts apiece per feeding. But I stand by to make sure they stay off the back teats. I take all the milk out of those teats before I turn the calves in with her, but that doesn't stop them from trying to suck on them. I'm hoping by milking out her back quarters and putting Udder Balm on them afterward that she will get a chance to heal. Meanwhile I'll be pouring out two-and-one-half gallons of milk a day.
If only pigs weren't so high-priced, I'd buy one to consume the extra milk and just keep milking the cow. She is SO easy to milk that I can actually milk her in the same length of time it takes two calves to nurse her. When I was in my twenties we raised pigs on milk all the time, and they grew like crazy.
I'm still wondering why, back when Grace had three calves sucking her dry twice a day, she never had this problem. They were with her for five months and her udder was healthy as can be.
That's how it goes. Never a dull minute when you have livestock.