Dairy products by far have an essential part of our life, and I’m sure we all have to thank the cows for that. It all starts with the milking, by hand, or by machine to get the very first and most important ingredient – milk. So, does milking a cow hurt the cow? Well, grab your milk, sit back, and then we will get into it.
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Does milking a cow hurt the cow?
No, milking the cow both by hand or by machine won’t cause her any more pain than natural suckling from the calves. We can tell with confidence because either by hand or machine, the act of milking replicates the same motion of calves suckling.
Some people have mistaken that hand and machine milking has something to do with yanking the udder, which could cause her pain and uncomfortable. It is not true. In fact, the milking machine uses pulses of vacuum and hand milking performs a rolling motion with the fingers around the teats. And, fingernails also have to be trim properly.
Along with no yanking, the milking area has to be a relaxing place. Cows would find quite comfortable in the barn, there would be shade and fans to cool them, some farms even have music while in the milking process. Cows enjoy routine and a calm atmosphere, milking your cow grants them both.
Generally, at the end of their pregnancy, cows will produce milk in preparation for their calf being born. If the calves are not there to take the milk, the dairy cows will have to be milked by the farmer because they would keep providing so much milk that the udder would get uncomfortable.
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Should you hand milk or machine milk?
Each one of the milking procedure has its pros and cons. You can consider both methods depending on your scale of business.
The first and most significant benefit of hand milking your cows is that you are in direct contact with your animal. There’s something really interesting, intimate, and rewarding about milking cows by hand, many farmers find that this experience truly makes them feel like they’re in a field.
Because of direct contact, doing the hand milking would help you to early detect any udder or other health conditions of your cows. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before any milking section.
Hand milking is far cheaper than machine milking obviously, but this comes with some downsides that are time-consuming and only suitable for those who have only one or a few cows.
If you’re aged or have trouble using your hands for milking task, this method is quite exhausting. Even a single cow’s milking section can be uncomfortable and definitely tiring for those who have gout or are only getting up in several years.
If you own a larger farm or have more cows, milking machines are vital. Thanks to the vacuum pumps, which wrap firmly along the teat, there is no dirt, debris or waste that could get into the milk. A quick clean of the teats is needed of course.
Machine milking is time-saving, especially when you have a lot of cows to be milked.
One big downside of this method is cost. Milking machines are quite expensive. In addition, they will need a lot of work to maintain and clean afterward.
Do cows like milking?
I can’t positive about that as cows can’t speak to us, but according to visual, audial, and other observing clues, we can determine whether they like it or not. And yes, they seem to be okay with it as long as not being separated from their calves.
However, in order to assure the high volume of milk from mother cows, most large dairy farms would split the calf from its mother a few days after birth and raised separately. Calves are bottle-fed milk and bred alongside other calves. This for sure would make the mother cows upset.
Anyway, milking is quite comfortable for the cows. In fact, cows are very distressed when the milking routine is not followed in time. Sometimes they even gather around the gate waiting for it to open so that they can go to milking.
You may wonder why cows enjoy being milked? It’s mainly because they still produce milk quite a long time after giving birth. Milk accumulates in the udder to the point that it gets too full and becomes very uncomfortable, sometimes painful. Milking relieves that pain and discomfort.
The cow is a creature of habit and no matter if it’s feeding, cleaning, or milking time, they would like it if it’s kept on schedule. Along with the comfort from the amount of milk they letdown, they eventually found that milking is just a positive reward and get along with it.
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Should all calves need to be separated while milking?
Yes and no. The method of allowing the dairy cow nurse the calf is called milk-sharing.
For small dairy farm, cows and their calves are often kept together while also providing milk supply for the farm, since the amount of milk produced by dairy cows is so much that it can provide for both.
For beef cow owners and large dairy farms, milk-sharing is not performed for some reason. Beef cows produce a lot less milk than dairy cows, it just enough for the calves so farmers wouldn’t want to take all of it. For large dairy farms, milk-sharing is simply not a cost-effective method.
Milk-sharing has some benefits for both cows and farmers. For cows, the best thing milk-sharing offers is the connection between them and their calves as they can stay together for months instead of days. For farmers, milk-sharing allows them to take a break without worrying about hiring someone to take over their duty.
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Have you finished your milk? Hope that it still tastes great knowing that milking a cow hurt the cow or not.
Milking a cow brings many benefits, like providing milk both for dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, cream, desserts, etc… and feeding orphaned calves. This is also a profitable business.
There are of course some downsides of the milking. Lacking a connection between cows and their calves is one of them. The natural bond could not emerge between mother cows and calves if the calves are bottle-fed by humans.
There is also a very small percentage of farmers that don’t treat their cows gently and humanely as perhaps they’re lack of compassion and experience. Just remember that they do not represent the whole industry.