How Long Do Cows Give Milk?

How long can a cow give milk

If you have always dreamed of buckets of fresh milk or churning butter and homemade ice cream, milk cow is a wonderful addition to your operation. So, while trying to come up with appropriate methods for raising cows, perhaps you asked yourself: How long do cows give milk? Just keep on reading to find out all the information you need to know regarding this topic.

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How do cows make milk?

Cows only make milk after they have given birth to a calf. They normally have the first pregnancy roughly at a year and a half of age.

Once the milk-making starts, a consistent milking routine should be maintained to reach the highest quality of milk. Traditionally, cows are milked twice daily, usually 12 hours apart. However, with the development of automated milking systems, farmers are able to increase the number of milkings to four or five times per day.

On a farm where cows are on average milked twice a day, the dairy farmer wakes up early in the morning and guiding the herd into the milking parlor. Before milking, the farmer takes a look at each cow and cleans the four teats on the udder.

Then, he attaches a milking machine cluster, which is made from high-quality materials, such as soft rubber or silicone suction cups. These suction cups are fitted around each teat to create a pulsating vacuum and massage the lower part of the teat. This can cause the milk to be released by gentle pulsation from the udder without making the cows uncomfortable.

Milking time takes from around 5 to 8 minutes per cow. Milk machines are automatically removed when a cow is finish milking. After milking, she can head back to her daily activities.

milking cow by machine

How long do cows give milk?

Normally, a cow can give milk during 305 days or 10 months after calving. The level of milk production peaks at around 40 – 60 days after calving, then decreases steadily and stops after 10 months.

A cow in a stage of their lactation cycle where milk production ceases is called “dry period”. It lasts roughly 60 days or 2 months before calving again.

The dry period is an important period of rest for the cow and her udder. During this stage, farmers should adjust her diet or seek the advice of an animal nutritionist. This adjustment during this 2-month rest ensures to provide the right balance of nutrients for her, preparing for the next healthy birth.

Cows in good body condition can calve again within 2 or 3 months of their last calving. In contrast, if a cow gives birth in inadequate body reserves, milk production will affect negatively in early lactation since body reserves are not enough to contribute energy.

Read more: Does Milking A Cow Hurt The Cow?

What effects on cow milk production?

Cow comfort is vital in rearing a productive and profitable herd. The more comfortable the cow is, the more milk she produces, and vice versa.

Some behavior traits of cows such as eating, rumination, and lying down are leading evidence affecting the health, comfort, and productivity of the cows. Similarly, stress, disease, and discomfort also associated with milk productivity.

Another sign of a cow being uncomfortable is estrous behaviors such as mounting. Lameness, nutritionally deficiency, or overcrowded herd in the barn can alter estrous behaviors as well.

Since feeding is how the cow ingests dry matter, feeding behaviors also have an effect on milk produced. However, the cow relies on rumination to digest the feed and utilize the nutrients in the feed. Dairy cows with good rumen health are more profitable than cows with poor rumen health since healthy rumen aids in digesting nutrients. If the cow has a full rumen, she can produce higher milk quality.

It is suggested that the standing action while feeding after milking can improve udder health. The presence of fresh feed when the cattle return from milking potentially reduces the prevalence of mastitis because the sphincters have time to close before they contact the stall surface. The pattern of feeding right after being milked has become an ideal method to promote herd efficiency.

Cows have a high motivation to lie down for approximately 10-12 hours a day. When the lactating dairy cow lies down, more blood flow increases to the mammary gland resulting in better milk yield.

Consequently, the cow must be provided adequate space on a comfortable base to rest, lie down, and get up. If the cow does not feel comfortable, she tends to stand with their back legs outside the stall or lie outside the stalls instead of lie down, or perch.

Did you know: Do Cows have Periods?


Raising dairy cows is a wonderful step toward self-sufficiency and income security. In addition to considering factors such as genetic background, accommodation, climate conditions, and so on, knowing about how long cows give milk can also control the milk productivity and well-being of the herd.

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