It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “The Production of Dairy Cows as Affected by Frequency and Regularity of Milking and Feeding,” circular 180 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, published in September 1931.
In the management of the dairy herd, milking requires more time and labor than any other phase of the work. The application of recent findings regarding the secretion of milk and the development of milking machines may be expected to produce important changes in the frequency and also in the manner of milking. At the United States Dairy Experiment Station at Beltsville, Md., the Bureau of Dairy Industry has carried on experiments x on the effects of the frequency of milking, change of milkers, and regularity and irregularity in the hours of milking and feeding on the cows’ production of milk and butterfat. The results of these experiments are reported and discussed in this publication.
FREQUENCY OF MILKING
MILKING THREE TIMES A DAY AS COMPARED WITH TWICE A DAY
It is generally known that cows produce more milk if milked three or four times a day than if milked twice a day. Just how much more milk will be produced, however, is a matter upon which investigators differ. Some of the results obtained in comparing three with two milkings a day are as follows: At the Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Vermont, two cows milked three times a day, in trial periods of 3 to 14 days, gave less milk than when they were milked twice a day. Walker, after carrying on an experiment at Offerton Hall, England, in which he used two groups of five cows each, reported as follows:
So far as milking three times a day is concerned, the results obtained in these experiments show no advantage whatever. On the contrary, the extra driving and other undue interference with the treatment of the cows has produced results of a negative character.
At the Ontario Agricultural College, Canada, two cows milked three times a day for two weeks gave more milk, but only one of these cows gave more butterfat, than when milked twice a day. At the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, cows producing about 400 pounds of butterfat a year when milked twice a day gave only about 22 pounds more when milked three times a day. Fleischmann estimated the increase in yield to be about 6 or 7 percent for milking three times a day as compared with twice. According to Huynen, the milk yield when cows were milked twice a day as compared with three times was about 1 per cent less for cows yielding 10 liters and 10 per cent less for cows yielding 30 liters or more, with an average for the herd of about 6 or 7 per cent less. The milkings were 12 hours apart when made twice a day; and 5K 3 6K, and 12 hours apart when made three times daily.
At the Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of New Hampshire, two cows milked three times a day for three days gave slightly more milk and somewhat more butterfat than when milked twice a day. Biford reported that a herd of 50 cows which averaged 45 pounds of milk a day when milked twice daily, gave 4 pounds more per cow when milked three times a day for two weeks. Smeyers found that 34 cows which yielded 8.5 to 17 kilograms (18.7 to 37.5 pounds) of milk daily when milked twice a day, averaged 8 per cent more milk and 13 per cent more butterfat when they were milked three times a day for seven days. At the Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Idaho three cows milked two, three, and four times a day gave relative yields of 60, 75, and 100 pounds of milk. Thirteen cows milked three and four times a day gave one-fourth more milk when milked four times a day than when milked three times. With twice-a-day milking the peak of production was reached in about three weeks; with the other two methods of milking the peak was reached in about six weeks. In the work referred to above, milking three times a day generally resulted in greater milk production per cow than milking twice. However, the increase in the amount of milk that might be expected over long periods was not determined, as only one or two of the trials exceed a few weeks in length. In order that he can decide whether it would pay him to milk his cows more than twice a day, the farmer should know how much extra milk he may expect to get from his herd by milking oftener than twice a day for both long and short periods. It was for the purpose of getting such definite information that the Bureau of Dairy Industry conducted the experimental work reported herein.
Four Holstein cows (three registered and one grade), soon after freshening, were milked two and three times a day in alternate periods of 40 days. The experiment was continued for 360 days, making nine periods for each cow. In this experiment, three of the cows were started on a period of twice-a-day milking and therefore ended with a period of twice-a-day milking, and one was started and ended with three-times-a-day milking. These four cows were good producers, their average daily yield when milked twice a day varying from 27 pounds for the lowest producing cow to 55 pounds for the best. The average for the four cows was 42 pounds. The cows were kept in box stalls, were fed three times a day, and were given approximately the same quantity of feed regardless of the number of times milked. The results of this experiment are given in Table 1, which shows that milking three times a day resulted in a production of about 11 per cent more milk and 10 per cent more butterfat, on the average. In this table the Jesuits of the first 10 days of each 40-day period were not included, as this time was allowed for the cows to become accustomed to the change in order of milking. The experimental results therefore cover only the last 30 days of each 40-day period.
The chart in Figure 1 shows the production of cow No. 230 in alternate 40-day periods. In this chart, each 40-day period is sub- divided into 10-day intervals, including the first 10 days of each period. In the first period the milking was twice a day. The production of this cow is characteristic of the production for the group. The chart shows that every change from milking twice a day to milking three times a day resulted in an increase in production, whereas every change from three times to twice a day resulted in a decrease. Furthermore these changes were immediate. The smaller gains in body weight made by the cows when milked three times a day, as shown in Table 1, were to be expected. As has already been stated, the cows received the same amount of feed during the entire experiment. Since milking three times a day resulted in a greater production of milk, less nutriment was available for making body fat.
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