Cows do like being milked, since it relieves the pressure caused by excess milk building up in their udders. Some cows love being milked so much that they line up outside the milking parlor in anticipation.
In this article, we’re going to find out more about cow milking and discover why they love being milked so much.
Why do Cows Like Being Milked?
Cows like being milked because it’s the only way they can relieve the pressure caused by the buildup of milk in their udders without having a calf to feed.
Cows only produce milk after they have given birth to a calf, so dairy cows are typically bred once per year to keep them productive.
After giving birth, the calves are removed and fed on a diet of synthetic milk replacement and grains so that the mothers milk can be harvested for human consumption. Female calves are usually added to the dairy herd, while males are sent to be slaughtered for veal.
Even though the mother cows don’t have calves to feed, they continue to produce milk for roughly 10 months after giving birth. It’s during this time that the cows become productive dairy cows.
Cows produce milk after giving birth even when they don’t have a calf to feed. This excess milk builds up in their udders and can cause the cows discomfort if it isn’t released regularly.
Do All Cows Like Being Milked?
It’s not possible to say that every single cow enjoys being milked, but it’s fair to say that every dairy cow needs to relieve the pressure in their udders somehow, and that milking relieves this pressure for them.
In a study published in the Journal of Dairy Science, it was found that pressure in the udders began to increase significantly after only 18 hours after milking.
Why Would a Cow Not Want to be Milked?
Farmers try very hard to make sure milking is as stress-free as possible for their cows, and major investment goes in to making sure that the milking parlors are as comfortable as possible.
In spite of this, some cows still find milking stressful, either due to mental trauma, noisy machinery in the milking parlor, or an injury which causes milking to be painful for them.
When a cow doesn’t want to be the farmer knows straight away since the cows will kick at the milking cups and refuse to come to the milking shed.
In situations like this, the farmers may call the vet to make sure the cow isn’t suffering from any health problems.
One common injury which can develop in cows’ udders that may cause a cow not to want to be milked is called mastitis. Mastitis is an infection which can cause swelling and inflammation in the udders, making milking a painful ordeal for the cows.
Do Cows Feel Pleasure When They are Milked?
Cows don’t feel pleasure in the same way that a human feels pleasure getting a massage, but they feel relief when they are milked because it relieves the pressure in their udders caused by excess milk being produced.
Dairy cows are selectively bred and produce up to 12 times more milk than they would in the wild, so they need milked regularly to prevent injuries.
Do Cows Prefer Hand Milking or Machine Milking?
Depending on how cows are raised, they can be equally comfortable with both hand milking and machine milking.
Each method has their pros and cons, but for the cows the preferable method really just comes down to what they are used to.
Machine milking is faster and more effective than hand milking, and can remove more milk overall, providing relief for a longer time than hand milking.
Hand milking is gentler on the udders, and cows are sometimes milked by hand if they have any inflammation or sores on their udders. (This milk isn’t used, but the cows are milked anyway to relieve pressure in their udders)
Can You Milk Beef Cows or Only Dairy?
All cows produce milk when they have given birth to a calf, so theoretically you could milk beef cattle as well as dairy cattle.
The reason farmers don’t milk beef cattle is because dairy cows have been specially bred to increase their milk production, and beef cattle have specifically been bred to produce as much meat as possible. Dairy cattle have been bred to produce 7.5 times more milk than they would need to feed their calf in the wild.
As long as the cow is in good health, milking is not painful for cows, in fact it is a relief for them.
There are a number of illnesses a cow might have which could make milking painful, ranging from serious diseases like mastitis, to common and easily cured conditions like a blocked teat.
When milking becomes painful for cows they can be sedated, given painkillers, or milked by hand to relieve the discomfort in their udders without hurting them.
Cows may be nervous at first, but once they understand how the milking machines work, cows want to be milked because it’s the only way they can empty their udders without a calf.
Some types of dairy cows have been bred to produce so much milk that they need milked every day to relieve their discomfort, and will line up at the milking parlor in anticipation.
What Would Happen if you Didn’t Milk a Cow?
It’s a common misconception that cows udders would explode if they weren’t milked, although it is true that it would become very uncomfortable for the cow and eventually the cow would develop serious health problems.
Without frequent milking, modern dairy cattle become extremely uncomfortable as their udders fill with milk and eventually become infected.
An infected udder often leads to even more serious conditions like mastitis, which can be fatal if left unchecked.
In conclusion, cows like being milked, but only because it provides relief for them.
Dairy cattle have been bred to produce much more milk than is necessary to feed their calves, and their calves are removed from them after they give birth.
For this reason, cows often look forward to milking because the vast quantities of milk they produce can cause them discomfort in their udders.
Farmers try to make milking as stress free as possible, but cows may have a preference for hand milking if they were raised on a small farm and aren’t used to large milking machinery.
If you don’t milk a cow, they won’t explode, but they will become deeply uncomfortable and their udders can become infected.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.