Everyday millions of people drink cow milk. Whether you put a dash in your morning coffee or tea, or mix it in with ingredients to make a cake, milk is used in just about everything. Because of the high demand for milk, cows play an integral role in not just our day-to-day lives, but the global economy as well.

CowsCredit: morguefile

How are Cows Milked

The Process Involved in Milking Cows

Cows are like humans, in that they produce milk for their young. So to keep a cow producing milk, a cow has to be kept lactating in order to have a steady supply of milk. This is done by making sure that the female cow is either pregnant or suckling a calf.

When a female cow is two years old she will have her first calf, and will give birth every 12 to 14 months to keep her lactating and supplying milk. The gestation period for a cow is nine months, the same as a human. The female cow will be both pregnant and producing milk at the same time, and is rested from milking a month before she is due to give birth.

To milk cows, the cow’s teats, or udders, are washed and four cups are fitted on to them. They pulsate and create a suction action that mimics a calf’s sucking motion, which draws out the milk from the udders. Cows are milked at the same time every day, once in the morning, and once in the evening. An electronic tag is used to record each cow’s individual milk yield.

Once the milk has been collected, it is sent to plants tin refrigerated trucks, where it is processed and treated. At the processing plants the milk is pasteurised, which means that it is quickly heated and cooled to kill any germs. The milk is then homogenised, which stops cream forming on the milk. This is done by forcing the milk through a sieve to spread the fat evenly throughout the milk. This milk is then either bottled for use or is further processed to make other dairy products, such as cheese or yogurt.

Different Cow Names

A cow is known by many different names, based upon its sex and age.

BULL: A mature male used for breeding.

COW: A mature female used for breeding.

CALF: An animal that is less than a year old.

WEANER: A calf once it has been taken from its mother.

HEIFER: A young female before she has had her first calf.

STEER: A young, de-sexed male.

Cow Facts

A cow spends six hours eating every day.

The average cow will consume up to 34 kilograms (75 pounds) of grass and plant material every day.

Cows can see colour and can smell odours from up to 7 kilometres (4.5 miles) away.

A cow’s hearing is very acute. It can hear lower and higher frequencies than humans.

A cow has four compartments in its stomach that process and break down food.

The average cow produces around 90 glasses of milk a day.

Water makes up 87 per cent of milk.


If you have found this information on how to milk cows interesting, maybe you’d like to know more about shearing sheep or making wine?