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Thread: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

  1. #1
    ShadowTears's Avatar
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    Question Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Hello, I am vegan and I know all about the cruelty involved concerning dairy, how it's wrong to take milk from a calf and her mother, etc etc. My question is, can cows produce milk without ever becoming pregnant? All I have ever read says no, that they must have a calf in order to produce milk. Which makes sense of course since a cow's milk is for her young. However, when I discuss the subject of drinking milk with my father, he always talks about how his parents had a cow they milked everyday but she was never pregnant and they treated her well and so forth and so on.
    Is it true that a cow can somehow produce milk even when she is not pregnant? I can not seem to find an answer to this and would love an answer to this question. Thanks.
    "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle." -Robert Alden

  2. #2
    whalespace's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Not yet... not under normal circumstances.
    Perhaps your father meant she wasn't pregnant when she was being milked?

    I recall that some mammary secretion can happen in young females, even before their first pregnancy, but not very much at all.
    Problematic is waking someone whom pretends to sleep.

  3. #3
    ShadowTears's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    No, he made it very clear. They got her as a calf and raised her and she was NEVER pregnant. That is why it confuses me. He would never lie about it, so that isn't the case.
    "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle." -Robert Alden

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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Hmmm... People can lactate without ever being pregnant...

    xxx Lou

  5. #5
    ShadowTears's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    But everyday like a normal dairy cow? It just sounds so odd.
    "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle." -Robert Alden

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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Yeah, I guess it's possible, lol.. People can begin to lactate enough to feed adopted babies etc. It's brought on though, not just random. Ie, a very tricky thing to establish.

    xxx Lou

  7. #7
    ShadowTears's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    How strange. Does anyone else have any more information on this?
    "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle." -Robert Alden

  8. #8
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    This (not very pleasant, you've been warned) article suggests it only happens if the heifer has some hormonal abnormality, or if they're given hormones artificially http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2465789/

  9. #9
    patientia
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Yes, sure, she could have had a pituitary tumor. If a human female had a pituitary tumor, would he milk her, or would he take her to a doctor?

  10. #10
    ShadowTears's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    You know, that just doesn't sound right. There has to be something missing from the story that my dad just doesn't know about. I don't think she had a tumor or anything strange, he acts like it was the norm. There just has to be something missing.
    His argument for drinking milk is that if a cow wasn't milked everyday she would be in pain. He says if a cow isn't milked she'll even try to milk herself because of the pain. I know the "if you don't milk a cow they will be in pain" argument is a common one and that's a whole other issue though. So the answer to that is that her calf drinks the milk she has so there is no need whatsoever to milk her ourselves, right? So that's where this comes in, a cow who has no calf and is producing a good amount of milk everyday and needs to be milked. It just doesn't sound right to me.

    I'm sorry for the trouble, I'm just curious and want to know all I can. Also apologies for putting it in the wrong place, I see it had to be moved. I wasn't quite sure where to put it.
    "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle." -Robert Alden

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    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Well, I wonder if the cow had had a calf at some point and your dad doesn't know or remember about that (maybe the calf was removed before your dad saw it, for example).

    I believe that once a cow has calved she does go on producing milk, at any rate for quite a long time, if people keep milking her (but not otherwise).

  12. #12
    ShadowTears's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Perhaps. I guess I'll never know for sure. Thanks everyone.
    "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle." -Robert Alden

  13. #13
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    I also found this (even less pleasant) site http://www.milkproduction.com/Librar...mary_gland.htm which says

    "If a heifer continues to cycle and is not bred, the immature mammary gland develops further with each estrus cycle. The result can be some discharge of a watery type of milk like fluid from the gland. The udder will in fact be comprised of four quarters, each individual units of production. The watery fluid will have some of the regular components of milk, lactose, casein and fat.

    But the virgin heifer's mammary gland never fully develops into a mature gland until pregnancy occurs"

    The watery fluid doesn't sound too appetising but maybe it was that.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Modern cows may be in pain if not milked (if they are producing milk) partly because they have been bred to produce larger and larger amounts of milk so they probably poroduce too much milk.

    This doesn't justify continued use of milk, it means we should stop this (selective) breeding of other species. Many people will use this flawed argument as a justification to use (cow's) milk.

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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    >Harpy
    Indeed that does not sound very tasty. D:
    I'm going to ask my dad about this again today to make sure I got everything straight from it.

    >Johnstuff I understand that cows bred for large milk production can very well be in pain. I'm talking about regular cows that people use for everyday milk. This particular cow was from years ago when my father was a kid. He's 61 now. So would a regular cow not bred to produce large amounts of milk be in pain from not being milked by a human? Her calf would be enough, right?
    "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle." -Robert Alden

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    Purple's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    You sure it wasn't a male cow not a female cow your dad was "milking"?

    Ask him how many teats it had. If the answer is 1, then riddled solved

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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Quote Purple View Post
    You sure it wasn't a male cow not a female cow your dad was "milking"?

    Ask him how many teats it had. If the answer is 1, then riddled solved
    Cheeky! Good one.
    "The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can never tell if they're genuine" - Abraham Lincoln

  18. #18
    ShadowTears's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Well, I talked with my dad about it again and it's still the same story. He did say "That's what I was told." about the whole thing though, so the cow was probably pregnant at one point. Just a guess but that makes sense. They got her as a calf, and he milked her and he saw her alot. I guess I'll never know the whole story for sure. Thanks guys.
    "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle." -Robert Alden

  19. #19

    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    He might have not been told the fully story himself?

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    Yeah Mollfie, that's what I'm thinking now.
    "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle." -Robert Alden

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Can a cow produce milk without ever being pregnant?

    We're the reason cows need to be milked now, 'cos of the breeding techniques and hormones we pump into them (and taking the calves away). But do they seriously think cows were in pain before we came along? It amazes me how people fail to understand simple mammalian biology.

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