Just how much milk does a dairy cow produce? Milk production depends on several factors, but the average cow produces six to seven gallons of milk per day. Cows are milked by milking machines twice per day.
Getting the Most Milk
When you purchase a dairy cow, find out about it's lineage. Certain breeds produce more milk than others, and certain herds are known for above-average milk production. You'll pay a premium for a good milker, but it could leave you with a higher profit per head, depending on the cow's nutritional requriements.
Dairy cows need feed that is high in vitamins and nutrients; they are fed food with a higher percentage of protein than the feed given to beef cattle. In order to produce the optimum amount of milk, a dairy cow eats about 100 pounds of feed every day.
The feed depends on the location of the farm and may be a combination of hay, grain, silage and pasture foliage. Commercial farmers generally do not graze the cows, but there are some that pasture-feed their cows and advertise their dairy products as "free range." Free-range cows may not be completely free grazing, as optimum grazing conditions last only a few months. Additionally, if the pasture foliage in the location of the farm does not have enough vitamins and nutrients, the farmer is forced to feed grain and corn.
The amount of milk produced also depends on the breed of the cow. Some breeds produce more milk than others. There are six milking breeds: Milking Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey, Holstein, Brown Swiss and Ayrshire. The common dairy cows are Guernseys, Jerseys and Holsteins. Some types of cows, such as Holsteins, do not do well in the colder parts of the United States because of their thinner hides. If at all, you will rarely see Holsteins in Utah or other Midwest states.
Access to water is also essential. An adult miker that produces 80 pounds of milk per day can need in excess of 30 gallons of water each day. This requirement changes based on outdoor temperatures and the makeup of the cow's food.
To achieve the highest possible milk production, it's important to make sure the animals are not stressed in any way. That means providing adequate warmth, shelter, food and water. Without the proper conditions, milk production will decrease.
Learn about the types of cows commonly used for dairy farming in the United States.
How much does a cow cost? Learn what determines the price of a cow and how to figure a cow's profitability.