Creative Applications for Learning Environments Lab

Beef Field Trip Menu Electronic Field Trip to a Beef Farm

Field Trip Menu Classroom Activities Written Materials

Mammary System

Dairy CowThe mammary system in mammals is complex and differs by species.  Cattle have four mammary glands and four teats from those glands.   Goats have only two mammary glands and 2 teats, while horses have 4 mammary glands and only 2 teats.  It is confusing but each species is different because its milk production needs are different. 

The beef cattle in the field trip were produced for their meat, but the other type of cattle, dairy cattle, are produced for milk.   Almost everyone drinks milk.  You probably have milk on your cereal in the morning or with your lunch at school.

Milk is produced from blood that is processed through the cow's udder.   For every pound of milk produced by a cow, 300 to 500 pounds of blood have to pass through the udder.  This seems like a lot, but it takes a great deal of blood to go through al the alveoli in an udder.  Lets take a look at an udder to see where all the parts are that help produce the milk we drink.  We can also find out what each of those parts does to help make milk.

Udder PartsLobe - houses the alveoli

Alveoli - spherical shaped structures making up the primary component of the mammary gland.  Consist of a lumen, which is surrounded by secretory cells that produce the milk, and myoepithelial cells, which contract to squeeze the milk out of the lumen into the mammary gland ducts.

Support Tissue - helps the udder keep its shape and also will not allow milk to flow out before milking begins.

Major Duct - acts as a storage cistern for milk until milking begins. Gland Cistern - this larger collection area receives milk from the ducts and alveoli.  The milk gathers in this area.

Teat Cistern - holding area for milk before it is stripped out of the teat.

Teat Canal - where the milk comes out of the udder.

Take the quiz on the parts of the udder to see what you learned.

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