If you’re interested in offering your dairy cows the best comfort possible, a cow milking machine should be part of your arsenal, as there are studies regarding the high level of comfort these devices provide. But when can cows be milked and what’s the usual frequency?
What is the dry period?
Cows need to have calves to produce milk, which is why dairy cows are impregnated three months after calving. Since the duration of pregnancy in cows is nine months, one year is considered an entire cycle by farmers who need to keep tabs on their dairy cattle.
Cattles are milked for around 305 days or more every year, and they have something called a dry period when they are not milked at all. This allows the udder tissue to heal and also provides the cows with extra comfort while waiting for their new calves.
During this time, they can be moved to a so-called dry group, so they are not mistaken for those who are still giving milk. Cows need to have a newborn to give milk, and, after peaking at two or three months after giving birth, regarding milk production, after ten months, the output falls dramatically.
How many times a day should a cow be milked?
In many places, cows are milked two times a day, as this is considered the ideal number to meet the cow’s comfort with proper milk production for further use. In case you have dairy cattle for which you want to increase the milk production, you can opt for specific nutrition guidelines that help. This might allow you to milk your cows more frequently, three times a day, for instance.
Nonetheless, you should bear in mind if the extra effort is worth it. More frequent milking involves the use of additional labor force and might also influence milk prices if you flood the market. So, it is a decision that might be affected by various factors.
Is a cow milking machine necessary?
For your cows’ comfort, a milking machine is not just something that eases the labor off your shoulders. Robotic devices present various advantages. For instance, cows can go to the milking station when they feel it’s the right time, and their daily routine will impact their milk production positively.
What happens if you milk your cows three times a day?
You will notice several things changing when you increase the frequency of milking your cows to three times a day or more. For starters, you will have a higher milk production. Also, you will see that cows give more milk and for a longer time. That could happen because milking stimulates the production of hormones present in the mammary glands.
How to reduce milking stress?
It is essential that your cows feel comfortable during the milking process or they will act up, making the entire thing a pain. For instance, in the space designated for milking, the cows should have enough room to stand comfortably. Also, a person who’s too impatient might cause additional stress in the cattle.
What can happen is that cows might oppose resistance to be led to the milking station. They might also kick the canisters, or defecate inside the milking parlor. To prevent all these things, you should make sure that your cows have all the comfort they need.
What are some excellent rules for milking?
Farmers who enjoy excellent milk production from their cattle know a few rules that are great for this purpose.
For instance, before milking, you should inspect the cows’ udders for any signs of injuries or irritations. By monitoring udder health closely, you can identify problems that will make a cow resist milking. Since cows can’t tell you what’s wrong, it’s up to you to discover any issues.
Make sure to clean the udder thoroughly before milking. That will prevent any bacteria from landing in the harvested milk and also from being passed to one cow to another, as the same milking machine is used for all of them.
Another rule to remember is to avoid milking the cows more than it’s needed. Cows will immediately feel discomfort, and they will not hesitate to show it. After you finish the milking process, make sure to sanitize all the equipment, as well as the cows’ udders.
Other factors that influence milk production
Feeding your dairy cows properly is essential for having good milk production. However, that’s not all. You also need to provide the cows with the conditions for ruminating properly. That is when digestion happens, and, if it’s hindered, certain conditions may appear.
Rumen health, which is a name used for digestive health in cows, plays a significant role in milk production. Because it makes excellent use of the nutrients in the feed, rumination must be optimal.
While the cows are away from the milking station, give them fresh feed. Knowing that fresh food awaits them, cows feed well after they are milked, and that contributes to udder health. The standing position lets the sphincters close, and that promotes good overall health for the milking cows.
Cows that tend to lie down have better milk production than others. When they lie down, the blood circulation is improved in the udder area. That means that the mammary glands get proper stimulation, and when that happens, higher milk production is to be expected.
For this, ensure that the stalls are as comfortable as they can. Get a rubber mat and plenty of bedding so that your cows feel motivated to lie down more.
Hormone injections and controversy
Cows may be stimulated to produce more milk with the help of hormone injections. These injections contain a hormone called bovina somatotropin, and they are used on a small part of the cattle population in the US. The cows injected with this hormone can give up to a quarter more milk than those that don’t get the same treatment.
FDA established that this hormone is harmless for humans, yet the injections are forbidden for use in Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.