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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the process of obtaining milk from farm animals (cows, goats, sheep, mares).

In a lactating cow, milk forms in the udder between milkings and is retained in it because of the capillarity of the mammary gland, the special arrangement of ducts, and the presence of sphincters in the teats. Milking is possible because of a complex series of natural reflexes. Under the stimulation of nerve endings in the mammary gland during milking, the sphincters of the teats relax, the smooth muscles of the udder contract, and the milk is released from the milk cisterns and the large efferent ducts. Several seconds later, under the effect of the hormone oxytocin, the stellate cells around the alveoli contract, the alveoli themselves contract, and the milk moves into the ducts and cisterns. However, even after careful milking, a certain amount (10-15 percent) of the milk, with a fat content of 9-12 percent, remains in the udder.

In time, lactating cows develop conditioned responses to the surroundings for letting down the milk. The noise of the milking machine motor, the appearance of the milkmaid, and other conditioned stimuli cause the contraction of the alveoli and the secretion of the pituitary hormone, just as in the ordinary milking process. Unusual stimuli (for example, an abrupt noise or a change in the usual surroundings) can inhibit the let-down reflex. Therefore, it is important in milking to be quiet and not to disturb the usual order.

Cows may be milked by machine or by hand. The most favorable physiological conditions are created for removing the milk from the udder in mechanical milking. The machine milks all four lobes of the udder simultaneously, whereas in hand milking only two lobes are squeezed at a time (however, stimulation of even two teats causes the let-down reflex in all quarters of the udder).

Cows must be prepared for milking. The udders are washed with warm water, the first jets are milked by hand into a separate vessel, and not more than 1-1.5 min later the cups of the milking machine are placed on the teats. So-called stripping is carried out before the end of milking. The milking cups are drawn downward and somewhat forward several times by hand. The duration of milking depends on the amount of milk and the let-down reflex; a well-prepared cow can be milked in four or five minutes.

The most correct and hygienic manual method is milking by fist. It is best to start milking from the rear quarters of the udder, where there is more milk. One should not milk one-half of the udder first and then the other; rather, the milking of the hind and front pairs of teats should be alternated, without waiting until the milk has been extracted completely. The order should be consistent. The milkmaid always sits on the right side of the animal.

Milking times should be arranged so that in the intervals between milkings the udder can fill with milk and thus the milk formation is not impeded. Cows are usually milked two or three times a day, although high-yielding and newly calved cows are milked three or four times daily. The number of milkings is gradually reduced before steaming up.


The milking of sheep is most widespread in astrakhan lamb raising. Sheep of other coarse-fleeced breeds are also sometimes milked. Ewes whose lambs have been slaughtered for astrakhan fur or weaned are milked twice a day. Nursing ewes are first milked 2-2.5 months after lambing; they are milked once a day until weaning. Milking is discontinued no later than 1-1.5 months before pairing. Milk goats are milked twice a day. Because of the small capacity of the udder, the mares must be milked every 2 hours during the first two months of lactation, and subsequently, every three or four hours. Sheep, goats, and mares are milked by hand.


Korolev, V. ¥. Mashinnoe doenie korov. Moscow, 1953.
Mashinnoe doenie korov, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1964.
Azimov, G. I. Kak obrazuetsia moloko. Moscow, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The main criteria examined in the study were the daily milking frequency per cow, daily milk yield per cow (kg/cow), milk yield per milking (kg/milking), milk flow rate per cow (kg/min cow), the time spent by the cow in the AMS for milking (min/milking), daily milking interval per cow (h/cow day), the number of daily milkings per AMS, the herd size, the number of daily milkings per AMS, the frequency with which the two AMS were occupied throughout the day, and the time spent milking, washing, idle, and not milking as well as the cow-traffic type.
This study was carried out on three farms (A, B and C) where cows were milked by DeLaval brand AMS (VMS-Voluntary Milking System).
In addition, concentrated feed was given on an individual basis according to the cow's needs in the milking stall.
Invited review: The impact of automatic milking systems on dairy cow management, behavior, health, and welfare.
Effect of automatic milking systems on milk yield in a hot environment.
Effect of milking frequency on DHI performance measures.
The value of coefficient of number of milking animals was 0.50 and is significant at (p[?]0.05).
Recently, there has been a tremendous increase in the price of animals in general and particularly of milking animals.
We can explain the mechanism of low milk fat levels that the milking machine seizes cisternal milk but not alveolar milk, where most of the fat is found (Thomas et al., 2001).
fraction is assumed to be available during machine milking, because removal of the alveolar milk fraction would require active myoepithelial contraction (Bruckmaier et al., 1994).
The invention of milking and churning machines during this era also contributed to milk's rise in popularity.
The entire milking process and pasteurization process must be monitored.