Historically, there was little distinction between dairy cattle and beef cattle, with the same stock often being used for both meat and milk production. Today, the bovine industry is more specialized and most dairy cattle have been bred to produce large volumes of milk.

The United States dairy herd produced 84.2 billion kilograms (185.7 billion pounds) of milk in 2007 up from 52.9 billion kilograms (116.6 billion pounds) in 1950 yet there were only about 9 million cows on U.S. dairy farms—about 13 million fewer than there were in 1950 The top breed of dairy cow within Canada’s national herd category is Holstein, taking up 93% of the dairy cow population, have an annual production rate of 10,257 kilograms (22,613 pounds) of milk per cow that contains 3.9% butter fat and 3.2% protein

Dairy farming, like many other livestock rearing, can be split into intensive and extensive management systems

Effect Of Diet

Intensive systems focus towards maximum production per cow in the herd. This involves formulating their diet to provide ideal nutrition and housing the cows in a confinement system such as free stall or tie stall. These cows are housed indoors throughout their lactation and may be put to pasture during their 60-day dry period before ideally calving again. Free stall style barns involve cattle loosely housed where they can have free access to feed, water, and stalls but are moved to another part of the barn to be milked multiple times a day. In a tie stall system, the milking units are brought to the cows during each milking. These cattle are tethered within their stalls with free access to water and feed are provided. In extensive systems, cattle are mainly outside on pasture for most of their lives. These cattle are generally lower in milk production and are herded multiple times daily to be milked. The systems used greatly depends on the climate and available land of the region in which the farm is situated

To maintain lactation, a dairy cow must be bred and produce calves Depending on market conditions, the cow may be bred with a “dairy bull” or a “beef bull.” Female calves (heifers) with dairy breeding may be kept as replacement cows for the dairy herd.

The dairy cow produces large amounts of milk in its lifetime. Production levels peak at around 40 to 60 days after calving. Production declines steadily afterwards until milking is stopped at about 10 months. The cow is “dried off” for about sixty days before calving again. Within a 12 to 14-month inter-calving cycle, the milking period is about 305 days or 10 months long. Among many variables, certain breeds produce more milk than others within a range of around 6,800 to 17,000 kg (15,000 to 37,500 lb) of milk per year.

The Holstein Friesian is the main breed of dairy cattle in Australia, and said to have the “world’s highest” productivity, at 10,000 litres (2,200 imp gal; 2,600 US gal) of milk per year. The average for a single dairy cow in the US in 2007 was 9,164 kg (20,204 lb) per year, excluding milk consumed by her calves, whereas the same average value for a single cow in Israel was reported in the Philippine press to be 12,240 kg (26,980 lb) in 2009. High production cows are more difficult to breed at a two-year interval. Many farms take the view that 24 or even 36 month cycles are more appropriate for this type of cow.

Dairy cows may continue to be economically productive for many lactation cycles. In theory a longevity of 10 lactations is possible. The chances of problems arising which may lead to a cow being culled are high, however; the average herd life of US Holstein is today fewer than 3 lactations. This requires more herd replacements to be reared or purchased. Over 90% of all cows are slaughtered 

Infertility – Failure To Conceive And Reduced Milk Production.

Cows are at their most fertile between 60 and 80 days after calving. Cows remaining “open” (not with calf) after this period become increasingly difficult to breed, which may be due to poor health. Failure to expel the afterbirth from a previous pregnancy, luteal cysts, or metritis, an infection of the uterus, are common causes of infertility.

Production – some animals fail to produce economic levels of milk to justify their feed costs.

Production below 12 to 15 L (2.6 to 3.3 imp gal; 3.2 to 4.0 US gal) of milk per day is not economically viable.

Cow longevity is strongly correlated with production levels.[31] Lower production cows live longer than high production cows, but may be less profitable. Cows no longer wanted for milk production are sent to slaughter. Their meat is of relatively low value and is generally used for processed meat. Another factor affecting milk production is the stress the cow is faced with. Psychologists at the University of Leicester, UK, analyzed the musical preference of milk cows and found out that music actually influences the dairy cow’s lactation. Calming music can improve milk yield, probably because it reduces stress and relaxes the cows in much the same way as it relaxes humans.

Certain behaviors such as eating, ruminating, and lying down can be related to the health of the cow and cow comfort. These behaviors can also be related to the productivity of the cows. Likewise, stress, disease, and discomfort negatively affect milk productivity. Therefore, it can be said that it is in the best interest of the farmer to increase eating, rumination, and lying down and decrease stress, disease, and discomfort to achieve the maximum productivity possible. Also, estrous behaviors such as mounting can be a sign of cow comfort, since if a cow is lame, nutritionally deficient, or housed in an over crowded barn, its estrous behaviors is altered.

Feeding behaviors are important for the dairy cow, as feeding is how the cow ingests dry matter. However, the cow must ruminate to fully digest the feed and utilize the nutrients in the feed. Dairy cows with good rumen health are likely to be more profitable than cows with poor rumen health—as a healthy rumen aids in digestion of nutrients. An increase in the time a cow spends ruminating is associated with the increase in health and an increase in milk production. and growth as well as milk production and the needs of a growing foetus. … 19-23. 15 kg DM. Milking cow indoors on grass silage + meals. 20 Feb 2020 — represented an increase of 82 million pounds or 0.5 percent from last … The average number of milk cows on farms in the United States  

After giving birth, mothers lactate for about 10 months. Then they are impregnated again. To produce milk on an ongoing basis, dairy cows are continually impregnated. This cycle continues until cows are around 5 years old.

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