Milk Production and Dry Periods

Click here for the latest (2017-18) dairy cow estimated dry periods chart.

About the dry period

Once a year, about two months before calving, every healthy milk cow undergoes a rest period called “the dry period” where she stops giving milk in preparation for having a calf.

You will receive an email when this is about to happen for your cow. 

When your cow enters her dry period, you will not receive milk from your shares in her until she freshens again approximately 2 months later. You will continue receiving milk from your shares in other cows that are producing.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Dry Period:

Q: I only have one share. How can I get milk during my cow’s dry period?
A: You can Upgrade Your Plan for additional shares. The Family Cow Plan or higher offers shares in multiple cows with different dry periods.

Q: Do I still pay the monthly fee during a dry period?
A: Yes, the monthly fee is a flat rate for all 12 months. 

Q: Since I own the cow, do I also own my cow’s calf?
A: Good question! Our cow-share contract agrees the calf will be the possession of the farm and no fees will be charged for the calf.

How do shares get assigned to a cow?

At the time of signing up for Bartlett Farms Real Milk Plans, the farm assigns you the best cow for your share to provide the most milk for the longest period of time. If you purchased multiple shares, you’ll receive multiple cows when available. 

Why does milk production change?

Cows don’t naturally give milk all year long. They are designed to give milk to their calf while it is young, then gradually slack off as the calf gets older. Below is a chart showing the average “lactation curve” for a milk cow and a heifer (cows are mature female cows that have had multiple calves, heifers are young cows that have only had a single calf).

Your milk is delivered based on the average cow’s milk production of 25 gallons per week. The weekly supply equals approximately one-half gallon per week per share. 

Lactation curve


Your order will be updated

When the time comes for your cow’s dry period, your order will be updated to reflect the number of shares of milk that are dry. You will continue to receive milk from shares in cows that are still milking. 

Questions? Please let us know! We are always available by phone (701-263-4574) or email (