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Dairy Terminology


Glossary of Dairy Terms

H is for Heifer, a young female calf, which has not yet given birth. Here are a group of heifers at Lancewood Farm.

Abomasum – fourth stomach of a ruminant
Acidosis – high acidity level of the rumen fluid
AI – artificial insemination
Bacteria – cellular organisms in rumen fluid
Bloat – excessive gas built-up in the rumen
Bull guides – information on genetic merit of bulls used for AI
Callf ease – ease of calving (giving birth)
Calving down data – information on calving process
Colostrum – first milk produced after calving
Concentrate – dairy meal
Downer cow syndrome – cows laying down because of milk fever
Drying off (dried off) – stop milk production
Dual-purpose breeds – breeds used for milk and beef production
Dystocia – no natural calving down process
Early lactation – first 60 days after calving date
Estimated breeding values (EBV's) – indication of the animal’s genetic merit (value)
Feed concentrate – dairy meal
Foot rot – infection in the hoof
Fore-milking – first milk from the teat
Genetic merit – the genetic value of cows
Heat tolerance – resistance to hot weather
Heifer – young female animal before first calving
Hypocalcemia – too little calcium in the blood
Ketosis – metabolic disease in early lactation because of fat breakdown
Lactation number – an indication of the number of calves born or a cow's age
Lactation stage – the number of days after calving
Law of diminishing returns – reduced income
Mastitis – udder infection
Mastitis cup – container to monitor milk quality
Milk fever – low calcium blood levels
Milk letdown – milk flow
Milk salve – ointment to put on teats
Milk urea nitrogen – - nitrogen level in milk indicating protein feeding imbalances
Milk yield – the amount of milk produced
Milking machine cluster – 4 teat cups and attaching pipes
Milking order – the order in which cows are milked
Milking parlour – the place where cows are milked
Natural service – using a bull to get cows pregnant
Omasum – third stomach of a ruminant
Persistence of milk production – the downward trend in milk production after peak yield
Positive energy balance – energy intake is higher than energy requirements
Post-milking dip – teat-dip after milking
Pre-milking dip – teat dip before milking
Production stage – days after calving/days in milk
Reticulum – first stomach of a ruminant
Roughage – forages like hay or pasture
Rumen – second stomach of a ruminant
Silage – wet preserved forage
Sire – bull
Sire ion – ing suitable bulls for AI
Solid content of milk – combined fat, protein and lactose content of milk
Somatic cell count – an indication of udder infection
Teat dip – surface disinfectant
Total mixed ration (TMR) – a combination of forage and concentrated feeds
Zero-grazing systems – no pasture used as feed


By Dr Carel Muller

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