For over centuries of years cows have been milked by humans. In fact, the phrase ‘cows can milk themselves’ was regarded as a major issue in the agricultural community as this referred to cows that actually drank their own milk. However, with the advancement of technology within the agricultural industry, the meaning of this phrase has been completely changed. Cows can milk themselves with the use of robots. This practise is fast becoming popular, especially in developed countries. The ability of cows to milk themselves generally saves farmers a lot of time sent during the milking process. It also allows livestock to milk themselves when they feel that the udder is full thereby preventing the occurrence of related illnesses such as mastitis.

The Artificial Method of Milking Cows

Cows can milk themselves through the use of machinery. There are robots that have been developed to make the process of milking easier and more efficient to both the livestock as well as ranchers. This method is known as the automatic milking system. According to experts in agricultural technology, the main purpose of the automatic milking system is to limit the amount of labour that is normally required to run the farm. Through the use of this system, it is stated that cows are able to move themselves around the farm thereby minimising human involvement. This allows farmers to focus on other important areas of the farming venture. Research studies reveal that approximately 70 dairy cows can milk themselves using only two milking machines. This process takes an average of about 6 minutes for each cow. It is also said that livestock generally prefer this type of milking system over traditional means which generally involve human engagement. Various farmers have reported that cows appear to be less stressed when using the automatic milking system. An important point to be aware of is that this requires training as it is beyond the normal milking means. Nonetheless, it is fairly easy and so cows quickly get used to it.

Training Cows to Milk Themselves

As already mentioned, the automatic milking system calls for proper training of livestock. The system allows cattle to take themselves to the dairy for milking without necessarily involving the farmer. Once properly trained, cows can milk themselves at any time of the day, even during the night time. Ideally, cows should be able to get themselves to the milking robot. When training cows to milk themselves, they must be walked around the property. They ought to do a loop from the paddock using a slightly open gate which leads to the water trough along the race to the machinery then back to a new paddock. A one way gate is necessary to prevent cows from moving backwards along the loop. Take care to leave the gates ajar for a few days while conducting the training session. To ensure that the training is success, a reward system can be used whereby feed is placed on the opposite side of the system therefore forcing cows to go through and familiarise with the system. The automatic milking system works in such a way that determines whether the cow is due for milking. There is always a risk that the cow enters the milking system when it is not yet milking time. As such, electronic information stored on a computer is responsible for signalling the gate to open so that cows can milk themselves. If it not yet the right time, cows are directed back to the pasture.

The Natural Method of Milking Cows

Naturally cows cannot milk themselves unless they are self-suckling which is not recommended. Ideally the cow’s udder is meant to be milked by a calf and so cows that milk themselves through this method are bound to cause self-harm. A damaged udder does not only affect the animal’s health but the farmer’s bottom line as well. Cows can milk themselves without the use of an automatic milking system but as clearly stated, it is risky. Milk yields are significantly reduced thereby placing the entire agricultural venture at risk. Studies indicate that cows can milk themselves because of the discomfort caused by an engorged udder or when they are deficient in some crucial minerals.

How Did Cows Milk Themselves Before Humans?

Through the use of modern technology, cows can milk themselves. However, prior to this advancement in technology, cows could not milk themselves. Note that self-suckling does not normally occur and so it is disregarded. Before humans, cows were milked by calves because the milk was solely produced as feed for their young. Milk production was quite low and only enough to sustain calves with a little extra. Once the calf was weaned, lactation would cease. Natural weaning often took place around 9 to 12 months depending on the sex of the calf. Research studies concur pointing out that prior to human intervention, harvesting was solely done by calves and the quantity of the milk produced was much less. With humans breeding cattle, milk production was increased so as to meet their dietary requirement and to date, industrially produced feedstuff and additives among other methods are used to increase milk production.

Do Cows Produce Milk If They Are Not Pregnant?

Cows cannot produce milk if they are not pregnant. Similar to all mammal species, cows produce milk for their young and so the hormones responsible for milk production only develop during the pregnancy period. Progesterone and oestrogen are produced during the second trimester along with oxytocin which is responsible for the secretion of the milk. Without pregnancy, it is not possible for cows to produce milk. Although under natural circumstances cows cannot not produce milk if they are not pregnant, this can be achieved through artificial means. Hormone injections are administered to non-pregnant cows to replicate the effects of normal pregnancy thereby allowing for the production of milk. Studies reveal that cows induced into lactation with the use of artificial hormones produce the same amount of milk yields and their period of lactation is similar to that of cows with normal calving. As such, with technological advancement in the agricultural industry, cows can milk themselves and even produce milk without necessarily being pregnant.