Do Cows Have to Be Pregnant to Produce Milk?

Why do we own cows? Either for milk or meat. They are hardly kept as pets or for any other purpose besides the two typical ones. We can slaughter cows and get the highest nutritional flavorful meat at any time but what about milk? 

Do cows produce milk all year round?, Do they have to reach a certain age to be able to produce milk? do they have to be pregnant to produce milk? or can milk production be induced any way? I used to have such questions in my mind until I got my first cow and raised it for milk. I bet a lot of you might have the same concern. 

Though it’s no mystery yet several animal enthusiasts still need clarification. So, In this article today, we would be discussing “Do cows have to be pregnant to produce milk?” Without further ado, let’s get engaged in a meaningful discussion;

Do cows have to be pregnant to produce milk? Yes, for the record, cows have to be pregnant to produce milk. Like all mammals, cows produce milk only when they give birth to a calf. So, whoever told you that cows need to be pregnant to produce milk, is telling you the truth. 

When Exactly Do cows Produce Milk? 

Cows do not normally produce milk in the gestation period and nothing on earth can induce milk production before pregnancy or in the gestation period, they only start producing milk after birth. (Source)

Once cows start producing milk, they keep on rewarding for a certain period 

Soon after delivery cows start producing milk naturally and they keep on producing a good amount of milk that is enough for the calf and a family for at least 10 months. 

Only a two-year-old can produce milk

Cows below the age of two can not produce milk or be impregnated. The cow must at least be two and have to give birth to be able to produce milk. They usually retire from producing milk after 3 years. 

The peak milk production is normally noticed right after delivery

As the heading suggests, the peak milk production is noticed around 40 to 60 days after delivery. After the said period, the cows start declining milk production until it reaches the average quantity; 4 liters a day. In the peak lactation period(between 40 to 60 days), high-yielding cows can produce up to 14 liters whereas the average milk producer can make up to 8 to 10 liters a day. (Source)

Cows usually dry off after 10 months of producing milk and remain dry for a certain period 

By the words “dry off” we mean, the period in which cows usually stop producing milk. Such a period usually lasts about 60 days.  After these 60 days, the cows are ready for calving and producing milk again. 

If we have to sum up in a few words, you can expect the milk production soon after the delivery and they would keep on producing milk for at least 10 months. Now that the worth sharing information is served, let’s move ahead and get enlightened with some more meaningful information;

Facts about Pregnancy and Milk of Cows

The exceptional milk-producing cows can die they are not milked

The cows, when they start producing milk in noticeable quantities, should be milked effectively. If cows that are not milked, even though they need to be, can die within a matter of months. However, the breeds that are known for meat may or may not die but the cows that produce in abundance would sure do. 

Cows can not constantly produce milk

Let alone the average milk-producing cows, even the exceptional milk producers can not constantly produce milk. Even the Holstein Friesian cattle follow the same pattern as other dairy cows do. They can not continuously produce milk at all but for 10 months a year. 

The milk-producing hormones get stimulated in the third and fourth trimester

The two milk-producing hormones called “Progesterone” and “Oestrogen” get only stimulated in the third and fourth trimester. The said hormones stimulate the growth and development of the milk duct system. Even though the milk duct system is fully developed in the fourth trimester, the milk began flowing only after the delivery. 

Suckling or milking machine can only continue the milk production 

Even though the cows can produce milk for at least ten months, not using a milking machine or allowing the calf to suckle milk would discourage milk production. If the two said actions that discourage milk production are continuously practiced, the cows would stop producing milk earlier than the expected period. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do cows produce milk all year round? 

No, cows can not produce milk all year round, they take 2 months rest at least a year. Cows normally produce milk after delivery and keep on producing milk for at least ten months if the calf is suckling and a milking machine is being used to keep it going. 

Is milking cows cruel? 

No, milking a cow is not cruel but torturing the poor animal or using a rape rack to impregnate cows to produce more milk is cruel. If the high milk yielding cows are not milked, they would die. So, not milking a high-yielding cow would be cruel as well. 

Do cows feel pain when milked? 

No, cows do not feel pain at all when milked. Cows feel the same sensation women feel at the time of nursing their child.However tipping can be painful for cows.

How much milk do cows produce normally?

The average milk-producing cows normally produce around 6 to 7 liters a day whereas the exceptional breeds usually produce more or less 14 liters a day. For 40 to 60 days after delivery, cows produce more milk than the regular quantity.

In brief, Yes, cows have to be pregnant to produce milk. The hormones that encourage milk production get stimulated in the third and fourth trimester and the cows begin producing milk right after delivery. Cows can not continuously produce milk, they keep on rewarding for 10 months and, take rest for at least 2 months to get ready for the calf and produce milk again. 

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  • Hi, I am Talon Juper, a passionate farmer, and Livestock Expert. I have done my graduation in Agriculture and Animal breeding. Relevant to Farm Desire as a research writer and data recorder.

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