when the udder is full of milk, it puts pressure on the animal which can be painful to them.
what happens in nature is that the calf drinks a little less each day as s/he is weaning, so the cow produces less until she goes dry altogether.
in the dairy industry, they keep this from occuring, and if it starts to occur, they impregnate the cow again, so that she'll keep producing. Calves are separated from their mothers early--males generally kept as veal calves (or perhaps for breeding); females are raised to be future dairy cattle.
So, while it is true that cows feel this, the question is, is it necessary?
btw, there are many other ways to be a dairy farmer, but this is the most common.
The experiment involved cows having already had at least three lactations, and the cows were split up into two batches (one or two milkings a day). The quantity of feed ingested did not vary significantly between the two batches. The cows which were milked only once a day produced 30% less milk, but their milk was richer and they had a higher live weight at the end of lactation and a better body condition score.
Well, of course cows should be milked - By the calves. But we milk them, and I'm neither a woman nor lactating, so i don't know if not being milked would be painful. But if it was painful, then the cows would do the "milking" if nature were to rule.
Saw some footage from a dairy factory today. Wow. It's one thing to read about this, and to talk about it, but it's another thing entirely to see it.
Man, these udders were the size of beach balls, and sagging to the point that they almost touched the ground. They knocked against the cows' legs when they walked, and the teats were red and swollen. The conditions weren't gravely disgusting from what I saw, but they were very unnatural -- concrete walls and flooring, metal pipes, suction machines attached to the cows...
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