Dairy production in the 19th century – milk recording on a farm in Vingelen, a mountain valley community in south-east Norway 1857–1893

In the second half of the nineteenth century, a transformation from self-supported husbandry to a more efficient livestock production took place. The present paper outlines this transformation, and discusses milk production on a farm in light of the general development. The cow milk protocol originated from a farm in a mountain valley region in south-east Norway where the cows were kept on summer mountain pasture, and much of the hay used during the winter was harvested from outlying fields (forested hills or mountain areas). The data included monthly records of individual cow milk yield, and data were analyzed for the periods 1865-71, 1879-84 and 1889-92. There was no increase in average milk yield per cow from the first to the second period, whereas a marked increase took place from the second to the third period (from 1,521 to 1,801 kilograms). The majority of the calves were born between March and May, and about 30 % of the total production took place on summer pasture. The last decade of the nineteenth century was a transitional period where several factors related to crop harvesting, feeding and breeding were improved. The data from the present study illustrate how these improvements resulted in higher milk yields.