How long can you milk a cow?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you milk a cow?”, and what factors determine how often a cow should be milked?

Read on if you want to know about the top milking cow breeds along with their milking capacity. 

How long can you milk a cow?

A regular cow can give milk for up to 10 years. An average cow can live for about 18-20 years and can start producing milk from the age of 2-3 years, i.e. once she gives birth to her first calf. 

In commercial settings, a dairy cow typically retires when she is 6-7 years old, and/or her milk production drops.

The overall milking of a cow depends on the health, food, pasture, and breed of the cow, so it is difficult to estimate the exact tenure. 

Factors that determine how often a cow should be milked

The most important factor to consider here is the breed of the cow, then the most important factor is the age after these come to the food, milking procedure, etc.

If you have a breed of cow that is known for the milking or production of a high percentage of milk then it is important to milk her daily.

Not milking her will cause problems like skin rupturing, udder infection, or even mastitis.

If a cow is solely bought to give milk and she has no calf then it is important to milk her daily as she is the breed that gives a higher milk yield. 

The presence of a calf can give some flexibility because the calf utilizes the milk daily, so there is no need to milk a nursing cow daily. A dairy cow produces enough milk in a day to nurse her calf and also to provide for your family.

When the calf is weaned, a dairy cow may still give milk or may not dry up.

It means the cow will keep on producing milk even if there is no nursing. In this case, you are supposed to milk the cow daily to prevent any issues or problems in the future. 

In the case of meat breed cow, you should never milk her because she makes enough milk for her calves. 

There is no problem with her drying up, she will dry up naturally after a few weeks no matter what the age or breed is.

Top 6 highest milking cow breeds

There are more than 800 cow breeds in the world but not all of them are best for milking purposes that why some of them are used for beef production too. 

Different breeds are made to increase beef production to meet global requirements. Similarly, many breeds of cows are specially made to get more milk and to increase dairy production. 

The top 6 cow breeds are classified as the best breed for the highest milk production per day which are as follows:

Holstein cattle breed 

Holstein or Holstein-Friesian cow or Friesian cow is considered the best cow in the category of milk production not only in America but all over the world. This cattle can give up to 32,750 liters of milk in a single year that is exceptional as compared to the normal cow breed.

Norwegian cattle breed

Norwegian cattle is called Norwegian red cattle breed or NRF is known globally for its milk production. This cow breed can give up to 10000 liters of milk annually. 

Kostroma cattle breed

Kostroma cattle along with milk production also have a high life expectancy of up to 25 years. That makes it outstanding in terms of both, milk production and age. This cow breed can give up to 10,000 liters of milk in a year.

Brown Swiss cattle breed

Due to the high protein content in milk, this breed is famous in the cheese industry. It also has high milk production of about 10,000 liters annually. 

Swedish red cattle

Swedish red cattle are also known as red and white cattle due to their shades of red and white. It is famous for its healthy body structure and milk production. This 140 cm high cattle with 600kg weight can provide up to 8000 liters of milk per year. 

Ayrshire Cattle Breed

Ayrshire Cattle Breed is simple to raise. The cattle breed produces milk of 7,831 liters each year and the weight is 600 kg.


In this article, we answered the question “How long can you milk a cow?”, and what factors determine how often should a cow be milked?


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.