Managing Cow Lactation Cycle (Part 1)
The lactation Cycle
Cows must calve to produce milk and the lactation cycle is the period between one calving and the next.
The cycle is split into 4 phase: 1) early 2) mid 3) late 4) dry period.
Ideally, cows should calve every 12 months.
There are many changes as cows progress through different stages of lactation.
Following calving, a cow may start produce 10kg/day of milk, rise to a peak of around 20kg/day of milk and fall to 5kg/day of milk during end of lactation cycle.
Although maintenance requirements does not very much, generally the cows need more energy and protein as milk production increases and less when production decreases.
In order to regain body condition during late lactation, cows will require additional energy.
Cows usually use their own body condition for about 12 weeks after calving to provide energy in addition to what they consumed.
Energy will be used to produce milk to achieve high peak production.
In order to maximise milk production, the cows must have sufficient body condition available to use and therefore they must put it on late in the previous lactation or during dry period.