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  #1  
Old 04/20/09, 07:17 AM
 
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dairy cow lactation cycles - milking through?

can a dairy cow be milked for more than one year without being rebred? if so, how do you identify the most likely candidates for milking through success?

How would continuous milking affect milk production? Of course it would decline - but at what point and how much? Does the decline stabilize?

I know you can have pretty good success milking saanen goats through - sometimes for years at a time. Would love to know if that is possible with dairy cows.

thanks!
Cathy

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Old 04/20/09, 07:37 AM
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Cathy, I'm not a dairyman by any means, however I have read that with good care, feeds, housing, minerals, etc. a standard cow can lactate on average into the 500 day range without refreshening....Mind you that's book knowledge....Topside

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Old 04/20/09, 08:31 AM
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Hi Cathy...

In my experience.... You can milk a cow for as long as she will produce..... Most dairys shoot for a 305 day lactation cycle... But due to individual cow's and how quickly they settle after being bred, the cycle can be somewhat longer.....

It is my experience that somatic cells become elevated in "stale," or late lactation cows.... So milk quality may be somewhat compromised by purposeful extension of the lactation.....

It is my experience that the bearing of milk quantity of late lactation production levels are pretty much hit and miss.... Depending on the individual cow and the way her genetics line up for her... So my answer to that would be.... It's anybody's guess as to how much any particular cow, of any particular breed would continue to produce over a longer lactation cycle....

Modern dairy cattle... From the five major dary breeds...i e... Holstein-Friesian, Brown Swiss, Jersey, Gurnsey and Ayrshire... Have all been genetically engineered to produce freakishly copious amounts of milk as opposed to beef breeds of cattle...... I would say that a Holstein, would probably be your best bet for higher levels of late lactation production capability..... However, the faucets (teats) of the Holstein generally run kinda small..... So the trade off would be longer late lactation production..... From a breed of dairy cattle, that is more disposed to machine, rather than hand, milking... Is of a body size (up to 1500 lbs +) where your point of deminishing economic return i. e. feed costs being offset by value of milk produced.... Would be rather ill advised... Holsteins are also not as docile as Swiss, or Jersey and are also, the lowest on the scale of the five breeds for milk-fat and non-fat, milk solids.....


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Old 04/20/09, 02:54 PM
 
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thanks, gentleman!

it's all book knowledge to me at this point... eagerly anticipating our calf being born in the next two weeks and in the dreaming/waiting stage. Making friends with the mama-to-be heifer who has moved into our barn.

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Old 04/21/09, 09:24 PM
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500 days would be the longest you would want to milk a dairy cow.
That would require a very high level of high quality feed and twice or thrice a day milking to maintain production levels. By then she would be down to 20 pounds a day or less and no longer paying for her own feed.
Most dairy cows are bred back by 150 days post calving, so they can have a 60 day dry period to rest and recuperate then calve again and start another lactation.

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Old 04/22/09, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Up North View Post

500 days would be the longest you would want to milk a dairy cow.
That would require a very high level of high quality feed and twice or thrice a day milking to maintain production levels. By then she would be down to 20 pounds a day or less and no longer paying for her own feed.


Most dairy cows are bred back by 150 days post calving, so they can have a 60 day dry period to rest and recuperate then calve again and start another lactation.
Average lactation cycle is 305 days.. That would leave 60 days optimum, in which to get her bred back, post calving.......

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Old 04/22/09, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Cotton Picker View Post
Average lactation cycle is 305 days.. That would leave 60 days optimum, in which to get her bred back, post calving.......

.
New Zealand grazing herds run 280-305 day lactations. They run a shorter lactation to keep cows on an annual calving basis to optimize seasonal grazing profitability.
The Lion's share of U.S. dairy cows are on 365 day and longer lactations.
Most U.S. dairy cows are fed total mixed rations and pushed for high production per cow. A consequence of this is lower fertility. Most U.S. dairy herds have a voluntary waiting period of 60 days post calving before they even start breeding for the following year. Given the lower fertility that results from pushing for high production, if the cows get bred back by 150 days post calving it is considered acceptable.
The majority of dairy cows in the U.S. are Holstiens.

If one can use Calving Interval as an indicator of fertility, here is the breakdown by breed for U.S. (source: Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 89, No. 1, 2006)

Ayrshire: 398 days.
Brown Swiss: 407 days.
Guernsey: 406 days.
Holstein: 404 days.
Jersey: 390 days.

Interesting to note how CI compares on an international basis:

New Zealand: 368 days.
Ireland: 381 days.
United States: 401 days.
Germany: 405 days.
Australia: 407 days.
Canada: 430 days.
Japan: 431 days.

Of course an individual cow or herd owner can choose to manage for the results they desire, and breed back on a schedule to fit their management plan.
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Old 04/23/09, 10:09 AM
 
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We had a cow that we had trouble getting bred. She wouldn't take with AI (5 tries by a friend of ours who is a dairy farmer and 1 cycle by a vet who used a CIDR), so, since she was a favorite, we raised a bull calf to breeding age to breed her. I milked her for 3 years. She was giving only between 1 and 2 gallons per day by the time I dried her off and up until the last week it was delicious and kept as well as any other milk. Of course this was a favorite family cow. I wouldn't plan a 3 year lactation on purpose.

She was on pasture and alfalfa with minimal amounts of grain as treats. She is a Jersey/ Normande cross with more of a Normande look, size and milk.

Jean

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Old 04/23/09, 02:31 PM
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There was a cow in our herd 30 years ago who was an old pet. She didn't breed anymore and she went about three years milking decently. Mind you, I don't think we made any money her those last two years. A cow milking like that would be extremely rare and nothing to count on.

Jennifer

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Old 04/25/09, 07:07 PM
 
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I am still milking my Jersey and her calf is 10 months old. She gives 2 gal per day sometimes 3. I give her 2 quart sized yogurt scoops of organic grain per milking and can increase her output by giving more grain...takes 2-3 days of increased grain for increased milk production right now. She is on hay since the grass is just starting here and we have none yet.

I would have her bred but she has silent heats and I haven't figured out how to get her bred yet!!

Seeing as she can increase without an issue I sense that she it not nearing the end quite yet. Her cream line is about 1/3 of the jar each day.

Sara

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Old 04/25/09, 09:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Sara K View Post
I am still milking my Jersey and her calf is 10 months old. She gives 2 gal per day sometimes 3. I give her 2 quart sized yogurt scoops of organic grain per milking and can increase her output by giving more grain...takes 2-3 days of increased grain for increased milk production right now. She is on hay since the grass is just starting here and we have none yet.

I would have her bred but she has silent heats and I haven't figured out how to get her bred yet!!

Seeing as she can increase without an issue I sense that she it not nearing the end quite yet. Her cream line is about 1/3 of the jar each day.

Sara
that sounds ideal to me. Lucky you!
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Old 04/25/09, 09:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cathleenc View Post
that sounds ideal to me. Lucky you!
Luck gets all the credit too....I just bought from the only farmer I trusted LOL. I am so thankful :-)

Sara
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