What is cow lactation?


Milk production is facilitated solely by lactation of cows. An ordinary person does not think about what a difficult way this drink must go in order to be on our table. Farmers, on the contrary, understand too well how many factors determine the quality of the products they produce and what work they have to do. In our article we will describe how milk is formed, how to get the maximum milk yield from the cows, and also reveal the secrets of feeding the heifers, depending on the period of lactation.

Milk production principle

The reference period of lactation in a cow is considered the day of birth. In private cases, the process begins a couple of days before the estimated time. Reproductive and endocrine systems are responsible for the formation of milk, and it forms in the alveolar tissues.

Lactation increases in the first 4-5 months after calving. Later, milk yield is balanced, and then their decline occurs. The ending becomes the dry period. At this time, the cows give the minimum amount of milk or do not give at all, which is much better. As the break between lactations is necessary approximately in two months.

After giving birth, the first 10 days of the cow produce colostrum, which the calves feed on. It contains a lot of protein, fat, minerals and vitamins, which is important for the formation of immunity in newborns. After 2 weeks, it acquires its usual composition and is ready to eat.

External manifestations and consequences of incessant lactation

Externally, the beginning of lactation can be determined by a number of signs: an erection and elasticity of the mammary gland, separation of milk, increased secretion. Until the udder of the lactating cow is completely filled, secretion is secreted in the alveoli. But, as soon as it is completely filled, the process fades.

After 4-5 months of active increase in milk yield, the process of milk appearance stabilizes. Termination of lactation should begin 2-3 months before the calf is born. But, if the cow had high rates of milk production, this may not happen.

Continued excretion of milk is a serious problem, leading to depletion of the cow's body and its culling from the herd. To prevent this from happening, the cows are started, that is, stopped to be milked 60-80 days before giving birth. If this is not done, the subsequent yield of heifers will be very small.

Duration of the lactation period

It is believed that cows lactation period lasts about 305 days. But these are average indicators, and in each animal the lactation period begins and ends at different times. It happens that a chick produces milk all 365 days, in other cases - no more than 6 months.

The duration of lactation is influenced by various factors: health indicators, food quality, the order of maintenance. The physical condition of the cows requires constant monitoring, because health problems lead to a decrease in the number of milk yields. In severe cases, milk may disappear altogether.

Do not neglect even insignificant diseases, like colds, since they can later cause more serious pathologies and lead to the cessation of lactation.

You can adjust the lactation period using the service period - the stage from calving to pregnancy. When it is reduced, the time when a cow gives milk is also reduced.

The importance of proper feeding

The fact that in order to increase milk productivity it is important to properly feed the cows, they say constantly. In many forums there is information that improper feeding can reduce the quantity and quality of milk yields. But few people bother to explain why so much is tied to the proper feeding of heifers.

The fact is that in cows lactation is a physiological process, which is 60% dependent on the quality of the food consumed. In the process of production and return of milk, the body is subjected to high loads. With a milk yield of 1000 liters, a cow loses up to 50 kg of fat mass, up to 40 kg of proteins and about 80 kg of lactose.


With the milk from the body of the heifers, other useful substances also leave: calcium, phosphorus, minerals and vitamins. Naturally, the more the animal gives away, the more the body is depleted. Only high-quality food, a balanced diet and vitamin supplements can make up for losses.

Milk formation

The physiology of lactation is such that different areas of the body are involved in the formation of milk. That is why it is so important to monitor the health of cattle, the conditions of maintenance and proper feeding. Omissions in any of these areas will lead to a deterioration of the animal's health and a decrease in animal production.

In the formation of milk in cows are involved: the circulatory, endocrine, digestive and nervous systems. From this it follows that any stress, failure in feeding or illness will affect the formation of milk, which will affect the total profit of the farm.

Interestingly, due to the uneven development of the udder, different amounts of milk are formed in its different parts. So, in the rear lobes of milk is formed more than in the front.

The path from education to milk

Milk in cattle is formed in the mammary glands from blood cells. But, before it gets to the man, he has a long way to go. Stages of milk intake include:

  • education;
  • passage through the milk ducts;
  • accumulation in the dairy "tank";
  • admission to the nipple;
  • dripping.

For the formation of milk in the mammary glands are responsible alveoli - tiny bubbles, consisting of a layer of secretory cells. To remove the alveoli accumulate around the excretory duct of 150-200 bubbles. There are several pieces of such accumulations in the mammary glands, and all of them are connected by one large duct exiting the udder cistern, where milk is stored before expiration.

Periods of lactation and physiology

There are three phases of lactation of cows, each of which differs not only in physiological processes that take place in the body of an animal, but also in duration. From how long this or that phase lasts, the following are distinguished:

  • colostrum period - 5-10 days;
  • period of normal milk production - 277-285 days;
  • The period of receiving old milk - 7-15 days.

Changes at the physiological level in the body of the cow are due to the fact that in the first and third periods of lactation a secretion occurs that changes the composition of normal milk. Thus, in the first phase of lactation, colostrum is formed in heifers, 70% of which is the system of immunoglobulin proteins.

By its composition, colostrum is closer to blood than to normal milk. This is necessary so that the baby can get used to the differences in nutrition gradually, and his body does not have serious loads. Old milk received in the last week before the launch can not be eaten or processed.

The first period of lactation

The birth of a baby is a reference point in drawing a cow's lactation curve. During this period, the body of the heifer is under severe stress, which can be reduced with proper feeding. The problem is that the need for nutrients in the first period of lactation is much higher than the cow is able to satisfy by eating a standard diet.

At this stage, it is important to give the heifers food rich in proteins - this will make it easier for the body to work on the restructuring of processes. While the recovery of the body continues after calving, it is important that the cow receives enough energy from the food. But, in no case should obesity be allowed, therefore it is necessary to strictly follow the diet. You can find out more about nutrition in the article "Feeding dairy and pregnant cows".

Another important detail: the first period of lactation gives a serious load on the liver. In order for the cow to bear it well, it is important to monitor the state of this organ throughout pregnancy.

Features of the second and third period of lactation

It is during the second lactation period that fertilization should occur. From this point on, the physiological state of the heifer will begin to change significantly. In order for the animal's body not to experience stress and nutritional deficiencies, it is necessary to constantly monitor the amount of milk and change the diet as soon as the milk production rates change.

In the third period, the cow enters not one, but with a calf, and her diet should undergo major changes. So that the lactation process is not disturbed, energy rich foods should be avoided.

In the third period, it is necessary to strictly ensure that the chick does not gain excess weight. At the same time, the feed must contain enough nutrients to prevent depletion of the body.

We hope that now you understand the importance of lactation processes in the body of a cow and know how they work and what they influence.

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