top of page
  • selzpralle

How do cows make milk?

(Video link below)

Cows are mothers and produce milk for their offspring. Before she has a baby, a "cow" is called a "heifer". She gets the title of "cow" when she has her first baby calf and her body goes into lactation (starts producing milk). For us dairy farmers, the label "cow" is our word for "mom". Here at Selz-Pralle Dairy, we have nearly 500 cows or in other words we have nearly 500 moms living here every day. We also have 300 of their babies which we call calves (a lot like Elementary age kids) and heifers (much like teenagers in middle and high school).

Cows produce milk in their bodies just like human mothers! That's right! The body hormones and milk production process (we call it lactating) is the same in cows as it was in your mom when you were born!

To produce milk, cows eat a perfectly balanced diet. (No junk food for our girls!) Each cow eats about 125 pounds of food daily and drinks about 60 gallons (a bath tub size) of water. Farmer Pam explains how "EVE" has a buffet of food to munch on all day as she produces milk. She will stroll to the parlor to get milked (which takes about 5 minutes) three times a day. The rest of the time she walks around in her pen, eats when hungry, and lays in her sand bed chewing her cud.

Farmers work hard to make sure their cows are healthy because for every gallon of milk produced 300-400 gallons of blood must pass through a cow's udder. Mother cows use the nutrients traveling in the blood to produce milk inside the alveoli pockets in their udder. (Within each mammary gland are millions of alveoli.)

Love Science? Here's a more detailed look at a cow's udder anatomy and how it works to produce milk. Remember, this is the same science as any female that can lactate (including humans!).

41 views0 comments


bottom of page