Milk & Dairy Production Process

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  • 0:04 Milk Production
  • 0:46 Milking Advances
  • 1:31 Milking Equipment
  • 2:43 Milk Quality
  • 3:24 Milk Processes
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

We all know that grocery stores carry milk, but how does the milk get there? What does the milk go through to be ready for us to drink? In this lesson we will learn all about the milking process.

Milk Production

Many of us drink milk or consume other dairy products. We also all know that we get milk from cows. But how many of us really understand the process?

Here are the basics: Milk is gathered once a cow has delivered a calf, and she will continue to produce milk for about 10 months. After that, the cow begins to decrease her milk production which is known as 'drying off.'

In order for the cow to produce milk again, she will need to have another calf which typically happens around 12-14 months after the first calf is born. As long as a cow continues to have calves, generally, they will continue to produce milk.

Currently there are many states that produce milk, but the highest milk production as of 2013 came from California, Wisconsin, New York, Idaho, and Pennsylvania.

Milking Advances

In order to provide stores with the milk we drink, a dairy farm goes through a process to collect it.

  1. The cows need to be sent into the milking barn or parlor.
  2. The farmer does an inspection of the teats and a thorough cleaning of them.
  3. Milking equipment is attached and milk is extracted.
  4. When the cow has been fully milked, the equipment is removed and the cows are sent out of the barn.

The cows will continue to go to the parlor to be milked typically twice a day in order to obtain the largest milk yield possible.

Keep in mind that while most large milk production is done with a machine, some family farms still milk manually. This means using a stroking motion of the hand, extracting milk from the teat into a clean bucket. This is much more labor intensive and time-consuming and is not generally done at big dairy farms.

Milking Equipment

One of the most important pieces of equipment is the automatic milking system. The automatic milking system is basically a robot that milks the cow without the need of the farmer. There is a teat sensor, a robot arm that applies and removes the cup, and a gate that opens and shuts to allow the cows to come into the barn and leave the barn. The process works one of two ways:

One, the milking box. When a cow finds feed in the milking box, they enter and a computerized system identifies the ID or transponder of the cow. The computer recognizes if the cow has entered the milking unit too early from the last milking and sends her out with a gate that opens automatically. If, however, the cow has not been milked too recently, the milking unit will clean the teat, attach the milking cup, and begin milking the cow. This is all done without the farmer.

And two, there is also a milking parlor which uses a high tech system for milking as well. Instead of the cow going in on their own throughout the day, a group of cows are herded into the parlor at one time. Each of them goes into their own stall-like area where a farmer walks through to inspect and clean the teats. The cups are then either manually attached or attached by a computerized arm and the milking begins. When the cow is done milking, the cups fall off on their own and the cows are herded out of the barn for the next group to enter.

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