Milk that comes from dairy cattle is sometimes called, "nature's most nearly perfect food." Out of all calcium-containing foods that are consumed in the United States, 72 percent of the calcium comes from milk products [source: USDA]. Most cows are milked twice a day, although there are some dairy farms that milk their cows three times a day. There are still some farms that milk by hand, though most cows are now milked by an electronic pipeline system [source: EPA].
Cows provide milk for about three to four years, and the average cow can produce 2,000 gallons (7,570 liters) of milk a year. The best cows can provide over 25 gallons (94 liters) of milk each day, which is the equivalent of 400 glasses of milk [source: USDA]. We will now tell you how to milk a cow by hand.
- Place the milking stool on the right side of the cow.
- Hold a bucket tightly between your knees, so it won't get knocked down.
- Keep the bucket as close as possible to the teat -- the part that protrudes from the cow's udder. This is where the milk comes out.
- Start with one of the two front teats. Grab hold of the teat with your hand, with your thumb and forefinger are around the top of the teat, close to the udder. This will prevent milk going back into the udder.
- Place the rest of your fingers of the same hand around the teat and move them one by one in a downward motion.
- Squeeze the milk out.
- Release your thumb and forefinger to allow more milk to come out of the udder into the teat.
- Repeat the process again, until all the milk is out.
- Repeat the process with the other front teat. When you are more confident, you will be able to do both front teats at once, using both hands at the same time.
- Repeat the process on the rest of the teats [source: Country Farm].