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7-3 IAN Dairy Lactation
by David Sparks, Ph.D., click here for bio
Program: Today's Idaho Ag News
Date: July 03, 12
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Why do dairy cows have to have calves? Doesn’t milking them all the time for production keep them lactating?
I was fascinated the other day while talking to Dr. Joe Dalton, Caldwell’s UI Extension dairy specialist. He was discussing artificial insemination and getting dairy cows pregnant and I asked him once they had a calf and started lactating wouldn’t that continue so long as they were milked every day. Here’s the answer: “there is nothing more basic about dairy production than an animal he coming pregnant, having a calf, and then producing milk.Without that cycle there will be no milk production. At some point in time an animal from a previous calf production will cease production. No baby, no suckling, use it or lose it. Exactly. Now it is possible to extend lactation, humans can lactate for a couple of years and cows can do the same thing. But what happens is they essentially go to a maintenance level of production because nobody knows that what ever offspring it was the offspring is growing and the offspring does not need as much, does not suckle as much as it grows. The internal clock recognizes that and says enough already. That coupled with the number of suckling bouts per day as time goes on actually decrease. They will increase in humans and in calves to a natural point and then they will begin to decrease as that animal begins taking in other feedstuffs.
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