How do Cows Make Milk?
For cows to make milk they need to first give birth to a calf. After this, all dairy cows are able to produce milk through a multi-step process.
Dairy Animal Terms
- A male dairy animal is called a bull
- A female dairy animal (prior to giving birth) is called a calve or heifer
- A female dairy animal (after giving birth) is called a cow
Types of Dairy Cows
There are six main types of dairy cows.
- Brown Swiss
- Milking Shorthorn.
- The average dairy cow typically weighs around 1,000 pounds.
- No two cows have the same spots
There's a multi-step process, that cows go through, to make the milk.
A cow eats, on average, 100 pounds of feed per day. Feed is typically a combination of hay, grain, and silage.
On average, a cow can spend up to 8 hours a day eating. Cows regurgitate food, like grass, that is difficult to digest. This is referred to as "chewing cud".
After the cow chews her food, it passes into the stomach. A cow's stomach is referred to as a ruminent. It has 4 compartmenst, which is why people think a cow has more than one stomach.
After the food has been digested in the stomach it then passes to the small intestine.
A cow can produce an average of 8 gallons of milk per day.
After the digested food enters the small intestine, the nutrients are then absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the utter. Once in the udder, the nutrients are trasformed into milk.
Milking a cow can be done by hand or a machine. Please check out one of the following reources to learn about this process.
- A step-by-step guide on how to milk a cow
- Or, watch the cool video on how to milk a cow
Pasteurization is a simple, effective method to kill potentially harmful bacteria without affecting the taste or nutritional value of milk. With standard pasteurization, milk is heated to a temperature of at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for not less than 15 seconds, followed by rapid cooling.
From the Cow to the Store
After the milk is collected, it normally takes about 2 days before the milk reaches the store. The milk has to be tested for any pesticides or antibiotics. It's then pasteurized and homogenized.
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