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How to Milk a Cow

| Updated September 26, 2017

Properly milking a cow includes disinfecting her teats before and after milking to prevent introduction of bacteria into the milk supply. Dairy cows typically are milked twice a day to empty her milk supply.

Things You'll Need

  • Lead rope

  • Premilking disinfectant

  • Shop towel

  • Bowl

  • Stool

  • Bucket

  • Postmilking disinfectant

Snap a lead rope onto your cow's halter and lead her to a quiet and clean area. Tie her to a stable object such as a fence or gate on a short tie so her nose is close to the area she is tied. Tying a cow short keeps her from being able to move around much while you milk her.

Observe your cow's udders and teats for any red and swollen areas that are hot to the touch because of fever. These are signs of mastitis that cause an infection in cows and need veterinarian treatment.

Wrap your thumb and forefinger around the base of one teat and slightly squeeze to capture milk in the teat. Release the pressure of your thumb and forefinger, wrap your hand around the entire teat and squeeze gently to release the milk into a bowl. Repeat this procedure two to three times on each teat to strip out the milk while observing it in a bowel. If you see milk that is thick, discolored or contains blood, do not milk your cow, as these are signs of mastitis and it results in pain for the cow and infected milk.

Pour premilking disinfectant into an applicator bottle. Screw on the lid and place the top over one teat of your cow. Squeeze the bottom of the bottle to apply the disinfectant to the teat. Repeat cleaning the remaining three teats. Allow the disinfectant to sit on the teats for about 30 seconds and wipe each teat with a shop towel.


  • Pre- and postmilking disinfectants may be a dip, a foaming dip or in a spray form. Follow the instructions on your particular product for best results.

Place a milking stool next to your cow near the teats. Place a bucket underneath the teats. Milk one teat at a time as you did to strip the teats. Direct the milk into the bucket. If your cow is not nursing, empty all the milk from each teat to prevent mastitis.

If your cow is nursing a baby, stop milking when you get small amounts from each teat and release the cow. The nursing young will clean and disinfect the teats in the pasture or barn when it feeds.

If your cow is not feeding a baby, apply a postmilking disinfectant in the same manner as the premilking disinfectant and leave it on the teats until it is dry. Do not wipe postmilking disinfectant of the teats before you release your cow.