Dairy farming has been part of agriculture for thousands of years. Today, modern dairy cows are bred specifically to produce large quantities of milk. Like humans, cows only produce milk after they have given birth, and dairy cows must give birth to one calf per year in order to continue producing milk. Typically they are artificially inseminated within three months of giving birth. These high-production cows produce milk on average for less than three years, after which they are culled and their meat used for beef.
If you’ve seen our recent article on how to milk a cow and you are now wondering what quantities of milk they can produce each day, the following lines will surely help you get a good picture of what these animals are capable of and what quantities you should expect. First of all, you should know that cows do produce most of the milk in the world, and they have been doing that for quite a while, and by that we mean a really long time. Research shows that cows have helped human sustenance even before agriculture was properly developed.
Besides being excellent milk producers, cows are also very good at converting food sources that are otherwise not suitable for human consumption into a nutritious product that can help us keep a balanced diet. Dairy cattle breeds on the other have been bred of around 10,000 years by humans. Humans have deliberately bred cows and kept their calves of milkers who produce a LOT of milk. By doing this for 10,000 years, these dairy breeds are producing far more milk than their ancestors in the wild would have. Think Jersey, Friesian, Guernsey, Swiss brown, Australian Illawarra Shorthorn and others. A calf may drink a couple of gallons a day. A dairy cow can easily produce at least several times that, and a good milker could produce up to eight time the amount of milk a calf would need. Nearly always, cows give birth to a single calf, so do not have to provide for twins.
How Does A Cow Produce Milk
All cows produce milk once they deliver a calf. About 10 months after calving, the amount of milk the cow gives naturally decreases substantially and the cow undergoes “drying off.” About 12 to 14 months after the birth of her previous calf, a cow will calve again, thus providing milk.
How Much Milk Does A Cow Produce In A Day
Milk production per cow can vary quite a bit. I believe you are talking about dairy cows and not beef cattle. But first those beef cows you see out on pasture or range have to produce milk for their calves. On decent pasture a beef cow will produce 2 gallons of milk per day. As a generality if you are milking a cow and the cow is only getting hay or pasture she will produce around 20 pounds/day, depending on the breed, size of the cow and individual differences in the cow.
Daily production also changes over the lactation. After calving, production starts out lower than a little later in the lactation, but rises quite fast to peak typically by the second month then gradually decline and they are dried up (or the calf is weaned). Dairymen will give their cows a 2 month dry period before she calves again.
For Dairy cows the average production in the U.S. is about 23,000 pounds per year. At 8.6 pounds/gallon that is about 2,674 gallons so in 305 days that is an average 8.76 gallons/day. Milk Production Holstein cows produce more pounds of milk than any of the other dairy breeds, with the average Holstein producing around 23,000 pounds of milk, or 2,674 gallons, of milk each lactation, which averages out to about 75 pounds, or almost 9 gallons of milk per cow per day.
How Long Do Cows Live
The life of a dairy cow varies from farm to farm and from cow to cow; some can live for as long as 20 years while others may have a much shorter life. Dairy farmers work hard to keep cows healthy for a long productive life. However, removing cows from the dairy herd is a common practice that allows farmers to bring in new, more productive cows, thus ensuring a steady supply of milk. Meat from cows that are no longer milking is a valuable source of safe and nutritious food.
An Average Milk Production
If you are into numbers, then you are going to enjoy the following information. The United States is definitely among the leading dairy producing countries across the world. An average cow can produce around 21,000 pounds of milk each year, which is almost 2,500 gallons. That’s a lot of milk we are talking about. Just to get a better picture, a single cow produces around 8 gallons of milk per day, which can translate to approximately 128 glasses. When it come to herds of cows, their production capability can go even higher, and some figures indicate that 800 cows can give around 2.3 million gallons a year.
It’s true that the human population consumes large quantities of dairy products, so it’s necessary for the industry to be able to sustain this. One aspect that definitely influences the data gathered on this topic is the fact that cows are specially bred and selected to improve their production capabilities over time. For this reason, new records numbers are reached every year. An example here would be a news report which stated that a cow in Wisconsin managed to produce up to 23 gallons of milk every single day.
Factors That Affect Milk Production
There are many aspects that have an impact on the quantity of milk that a cow can produce. If you are thinking about getting into this business, then learning every aspect that might impact the production of milk is a good place to start from. This way you can organize your entire frame of operations in the right way from the beginning. One of the variables that you need to take into consideration is genetics. If a cow comes from a line of highly productive representatives, chances are that she will follow into the same footsteps and ensure a large quantity of milk. Of course, breeds also play a crucial role in this matter, since some are known for their record milk outputs.
Food, which tends to be a key factor in every major aspect that involves nature, needs to be considered as well. The quality of the food and the level of nutrition is the most important aspect that can influence production. Moreover, what a cow eats can also have an impact over the quality of the milk itself. This might not seem as obvious at first, but weather also plays an important part in this matter. Sudden changes can cause stress which in turn decreased the daily output. It doesn’t really matter if we’re talking about hot or cold weather.
Any extreme temperatures can have a negative impact, which means that farmers constantly look for ways to enhance their comfort across seasons. There are also three main stages of production in a cow’s life, depending on her age, as well as on other factors. A cow will start producing milk when she has her first calf. Throughout time, the milk production will increase and then reach a peak, after which it will start decreasing until it will stop altogether. Since cows continue to grow until they are around 3 to 4 years old, they tend to produce more milk once this period is over.