Meesha posed this question in a comment on my previous entry about having to milk my cow until the calf can consume it all: "How is it supposed to happen in "the wild" when there is no one to milk the cow?"
Perhaps others of you have wondered the same thing.
Cattle were not meant to give the unnatural amount of milk that dairy breeds give today. Breeders have selected the top-yielding cows and bred them to sons of other top-producers, and each generation gives more milk than the last; this is what dairymen want... fewer cows to feed, but more milk. Of course, higher production usually brings more problems with the cows. The average dairy cow only lasts five years in the herd before she is culled for health problems, even though a cow's natural life span is ten to fifteen years.
Beef breeds, on the other hand, give only enough milk for one calf.
Whatever kind of cows lived "in the wild" had not been messed with by humans, and they would have had no need to be milked.
If I had a beef cow, I would never have to milk; in fact, there wouldn't be any milk left for me. If I had a dairy/beef cross cow, I could milk if I wanted to, but she'd probably not give over four gallons a day; her calf would soon be able to take all the milk.
What would happen if I did not milk Bonnie daily until her calf can take all the milk?
She would likely get mastitis.
Perhaps someone is wondering why I don't get a non-dairy breed or a dairy/beef cross. Well, it's because I love Jersey cattle, and I have a history with them. They are petite and feminine and pretty and friendly. I'd love to find a Jersey cow that a dairy was culling for low production, but I haven't been able to locate such an animal. That would be ideal for me.
It only took a couple of weeks last year for Sir Loin to be able to take all of Bonnie's milk; Clyde is a big boy, and I imagine in another week or two he'll be sucking down every drop. Then I'll be back to simply taking him away from his mom overnight when I want some milk.