Milk Production

Dairy cattle are normally milked two or three times per 24-h day. Following freshening (parturition), maximum milk production is normally reached after 45 days. A slow, but steady decline in milk produced by the cow occurs after peak yield until she is dried. Normal lactation periods for commercial dairy farms are 305 days lactation and 60 days dry (Fig. 7). The dry period allows for the cow to replenish her body reserves and rest her mammary tissue. Because a calf must be produced every 12.5 to 13.5 months in order to meet this idealized production schedule, cows are bred at approximately 80-90 days of lactation.

Feeding dairy cattle represents approximately 50% of the cost of milk production. The percentage of protein and fat may be influenced by feeding and management practices on dairy farms. Dairies may select feeding programs to produce fat and produce percentages that best suit milk

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