How long will a cow milk?

10 years 4 months ago #36537 by Short Plank
Hi. Some will know from my thread below that we've just lost one of our two housecows after she calved. Naturally this has left us with a problem.

Theory was that we'd leave her to bring up her calf and then after weaning it use her as the main milk supply to the house, send the other to the bull in the autumn for her turn on the cycle next year.

Now we're down to one cow, and getting a replacement out to where we are is problematic/a nightmare. In addition our days out here are probably numbered as age takes its toll, so we're reluctant to take new, young stock on.

So the question: how long will our existing housecow milk for if we just keep milking her? I believe - but am not entirely sure as my memory wasn't what it was - that when we began life-styling many years ago I milked a Jersey for four years straight. Presently our cow is giving us 7 - 8 litres a day, which is enough for the house and for the calf, and once the calf is weaned we could survive quite well on a mere 2-litres/day should she reduce to that. If a cow will keep lactating even such a minimal amount for three or four years provided she's milked regularly, kept fed and away from the bull, she would probably see us out of here. Or is there a limit to a cows lactation that we would bump up against, leaving us milkess?

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10 years 4 months ago #476309 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic How long will a cow milk?
Gosh, I'm not sure as I don't milk mine continually as I have Bully (AJ) go over them fairly early on and I think we stop about 160 days after conception (or last signs of being in season) to let them rest and put their energy into growing the calf and themselves.

What I can say is that grass availability, drought etc will influence how much you are or not getting.

Hopefully someone like Cowvet will pop along soon to answer better than I can.

sorry to hear that you might be moving on, it looks an ideal location! If the timing is in doubt, by all means use your established cow house to set a few rules for a newbie coming along. We adore our Daisy who is the elder in our cow community, she sets the pace and puts everyone in their pecking order. Even when she isn't suitable for producing milk and calves, we will keep her just to be the ring leader of the herd.

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10 years 4 months ago #476328 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic How long will a cow milk?
I don't keep our cattle for more than 12 or 13 years now, because by that time they are getting very worn hip joints, which is very painful for them.
Theoretically you should be able to keep milking for many years, so long as you have good enough quality feed for her. Long and rank grass does not really have enough protein for the amount she is giving out in her milk. There is also some risk of calcium and magnesium deficiency, unless you are adequately supplementing.
And if she is prone to rye grass staggers, that will not help milk production.

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