In general, dairy cows are fed a total mixed ration, which should contain all the nutrients a cow needs in every bite. A total mixed ration will contain roughly 50 to 60% forage (hay and silage) and 40 to 50% concentrates (grain, protein meal, fat, vitamin/mineral) and each kg of dry matter should break down to 70% carbohydrate, 18% protein, 6% fat and 6% vitamins and minerals.

On average it takes 1.25 to 1.44 kg of feed to produce 1 L of milk or 0.63 to 0.72 kg of dry matter, which is the nutrient content of the feed with all the water removed. Most dairy cows are milked two to three times per day. On average, a cow will produce six to seven gallons of milk each day.

Dairy farmers feed their cows to aim to produce 1.4 to 1.6 L of milk per kg of dry matter intake. In early lactation ( less than 100 days in milk), cows will produce an average of 40 L of milk per day and eat 50 kg of feed per day, which averages 50% water and 50% dry matter. So, early lactation cows need 1.25 kg of feed per L of milk, which results in 1.6 L of milk per kg of dry matter intake. In late lactation (over 200 days milking), cows will only produce an average of 25 L of milk and eat 36 kg of feed per day. So, late lactation cows need 1.44 kg of feed per L of milk, which results in 1.4 L of milk per kg of dry matter intake.

What Do Cows Eat?

A cow that is producing milk eats about 100 pounds each day of feed, which is a combination of hay, grain, silage and proteins (such as soybean meal), plus vitamins and minerals. Farmers employ professional animal nutritionists to develop scientifically formulated, balanced and nutritious diets for their cows. Cows also need fresh, clean water 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 a “drying off” period. About 12 to 14 months after the birth of her previous calf, a cow will calve again, thus providing milk.

Yes! Dairy farmers are dedicated to producing high-quality milk, and that begins with taking good care of their cows. Dairy farmers work closely with veterinarians and professional animal nutritionists to keep their cows healthy and well-nourished. Nutritious diets, healthy living conditions and good veterinary care are all essential when it comes to producing safe, wholesome, nutritious milk.

 The term “raw milk” might sound natural and good, but raw milk is not safe. According to the Food and Drug Administration, raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to those who drink it.

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process that kills any harmful bacteria that may be found in raw milk. It’s done by heating milk at 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 16 seconds, and then rapidly cooling it. This simple process is extremely effective at killing bacteria while maintaining milk’s nutritional value. Pasteurization is just one step dairy farmers take to ensure the dairy foods you love are safe.

Pasteurization is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and is a simple, proven and effective process that kills potentially harmful bacteria without affecting the taste or nutritional value of milk. During pasteurization, the temperature of milk is raised to 161° Fahrenheit or higher for 16 seconds and then rapidly cooled. Pasteurization extends milk’s shelf life and destroys harmful bacteria. Ultra-high temperature pasteurization, where milk is heated to 280° Fahrenheit for more than two seconds, is used to the extend the shelf life of some dairy foods. An average cow in the early 2000s produced about 17 litres of milk each day (17 one-litre milk bottles). This contained about 1.47 kilograms of milk solids.

An average cow in the early 2000s produced about 17 litres of milk each day (17 one-litre milk bottles). This contained about 1.47 kilograms of milk solids. To produce this, the cow had to drink five buckets of water (about 50 litres) and eat about 17 kilograms of pasture dry matter. A kilogram of pasture dry matter is equal to about 5 kilograms of green grass, so 17 kilograms of pasture dry matter equals about 85 kilograms of green grass – the amount of unmown grass shown here.  and environmental factors. Milk composition is related more to genetic factors but is also linked, in part, to extrinsic ones.

On a short-term basis, the efficiency of nutrient use for milk production is primarily dependent on the milk production level. As milk yield increases, a lower proportion of total feed intake is used for maintenance (a non-productive requirement that is more or less constant) of the cow. A cow producing 12 kg/d of milk is using about 50% of available nutrients for milk synthesis, whereas the corresponding value is 66% when milk yield increases to 22 kg/d.

This point needs however to be reconsidered in the context of developing countries, especially in the hot and humid tropics. In these countries, several factors limit the use of high-yielding dairy cows:

Highly digestible forages (and fertilizers used to produce them) are not available;

Cereal and other feeds of high nutritive value are not available in excess of what is needed for human or monogastric animal consumption, or are not available at an economic price;

Underfed specialised dairy cows decrease their milk production, but not enough to avoid excessive body weight loss, health and reproduction problems and even mortality;

Specialised high-yielding dairy breeds are not well adapted to climatic stress, to poor management and to endemic diseases and parasitism;

Zebu or crossbred dual-purpose cattle and buffaloes are well adapted to tropical conditions, produce in some cases 1000 – 3000 litres of high-fat milk per lactation and can be used as draught animals (see preston and leng, 1987 and roman-ponce, 1987, for complete analysis).

The present paper focuses on current knowledge of the physiological aspects of nutrient partitioning in lactating cows. Most data were obtained in high producing dairy cows from temperate countries. Therefore they do not apply directly to most milking cattle that are used in the tropics.

Cause of Milk Decrease

The decrease in milk yield after lactation peak (that determines milk persistency) results primarily from a decrease in the number of secreting cells. There is little knowledge on the possibility of manipulating the number of secretory cells during lactation. During extended lactation in the mouse, a stronger milking stimulus caused by new younger pups was able to increase the longevity of secretory cells, thus maintaining the number of cells at peak values and milk yield at two-thirds of peak values (suggesting that better milk persistency was due to cell number maintenance, whereas their metabolic activity decreased) (Knight et al., 1988).

Milk yield of dairy cows is clearly greater (25–40 %) when they are suckling their calves twice daily than when machine-milked twice daily. This could be due to a decrease of residual milk and/or to a better response of galactopoietic hormones to suckling (see Perez et al., 1985). Interestingly, when dairy cows suckle only during the first two months of lactation, they maintain an increased milk yield (above controls) after weaning, suggesting that the number of secreting cells was increased or that there was a carry-over effect on stimulating mechanisms (Everitt and Phillips, 1971). This can be relevant to simultaneous milking and suckling in dual-purpose herds.

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