Dairy cows are milked each day. Depending on the farm, they are milked twice or three times a day. On our farm, our cows are milked twice a day. We start each day out at:
3:30 AM– Wash Cycle- This is the process of cleaning all of our milking equipment on the inside. This is done before and after each milking.
3:40 AM– Set up the milk parlor & make coffee. Coffee makes all the world seem right.
4:00 AM– Wake up the ladies and bring them into the holding area (where they wait for their turn to be milked).
- Our herd is divided into two groups of milk cows. We milk one group then bring in the second group. This is for breeding purposes but is beneficial for the amount of time the cows need to wait in the holding area.
- While they are in the holding area and out of the free stall barn (their home). We use a tractor to clean the barn. Once that is complete, we hand rake each individual stall (their bed) to remove any/all manure and level out the pine shavings (their bedding). A clean barn makes for happy, clean and healthy cows.
4:30 AM– Start milking the cows.
5:50 AM– Time to get the second group of milk cows. Bring them to the holding area.
- Time to clean their side of the barn and stalls.
6:15 AM– Start milking second group of cows.
7:30 AM– Finish milking second group of cows.
- Clean milking parlor. Incredibly important to make sure everything is cleaned and ready for the next milking.
- Clean the holding area. The entire holding area is cleaned by tractor and push shovel of all manure.
- Clean all the milking equipment, inside and out. The wash cycle is the process of cleaning our entire milking system on the inside.
- Clean all the towels used to wipe each cow prior to milking. Yes, our cows have their own washer and dryer.
8:15 AM– All done! Start this process all over again at 3:30 PM.
So how long are the cows actually standing there being milked? I just over simplified our entire milking process and one might think that the cows are still milked much longer than they are.
We have a milking parlor that milks eight cows on each side at the same time. So sixteen total at a time.
- Eight cows enter the milking parlor on one side.
- All eight cows have their teats dipped with an iodine solution.
- The iodine solution is used to sanitize each teat and is wiped off with a clean towel.
- Once the teats are cleaned and sanitized, the milking unit is attached to each teat.
- A vacuum pulsates air to have the rubber insert inside of the milking unit gently squeeze the milk out. It’s important to note that inside the stainless steel, it’s rubber.
So that entire process takes about eight minutes. Our goal is one minute a cow. So about four minutes of that entire process they are actually attached to the milking unit being milked. I am not a math genius but that is about eight minutes each day (give or take) that the cows are being milked. A far cry from the 24/7 claim activists might say.
Note: Cows are also not milked their entire nine month pregnancy. Learn more here.