Why does a cow have no milk after calving?

The cow does not give milk after calving, because during the first week she produces colostrum. It is vital for the calf, but not suitable for humans. Moreover, there is no second without the first. And you need to start distributing the cow from the first day after calving. Otherwise, you won't have to count on good productivity.

How much milk does a cow give after the first calving

First heifers always produce little milk compared to subsequent calving. True, this "little" varies depending on the future milk yield of the cow.

Poor production is directly related to the evolutionary adaptability of animals to wild life. The female, in order to save the body's resources, produces exactly as much milk as her cub needs. And not a drop more. Nature "did not count" on a person as an additional load.

A newborn calf does not need much food. On the first day, a first-calf can only produce 3-4 liters of colostrum.

The cub grows, he needs more milk, and the cow gives him the food he needs. But at the peak of lactation, a first-calf will give about 1.5 times less than an adult, more than once calving animal. The exact amount depends on the breed and individual characteristics.

Then the calf switches to regular feed and lactation declines. In beef cattle breeds or low-yield mongrel individuals, this state of affairs persists throughout their lives.

A dairy cow also produces little milk immediately after calving. Its number increases later. But to obtain maximum milk yield, the animal begins to distribute from the very first day, imitating the lack of food for the calf. This allows at the same time to store colostrum with the maximum amount of immunoglobulins. Some experienced cow owners use "cross" feeding of colostrum. So the calf can get those antibodies that the mother does not have.

Additional feeding of colostrum to a calf from another cow will improve colostral immunity.

Comment! The maximum amount of milk a cow gives only after the 3rd calving.

Can a cow calve without filling the udder

Under the influence of hormonal changes in the body, the udder of a cow, strictly speaking, does not fill up, but swells. And the degree of this swelling depends on the individual characteristics of the animal's organism. Therefore, a sign of early calving, a swollen udder, is far from always found. The timing is also different: from 3-4 weeks in heifers to 0 hours in old cows. In some cases, the udder is already poured during calving.

It is very rare, but it also happens that there is no edema at all before and during calving. According to the observations of livestock breeders, this is the worst option of all. Due to hormonal disruption, the udder can fill up after calving, and in several stages. However, colostrum begins to be secreted. In the future, milk production is standard. This phenomenon may be due to a slight hormonal disruption. But when a cow licks a newborn, along with the remaining mucus, she receives the hormones necessary for milk production. Therefore, you should not rush to separate the newly born calf from the uterus.

Calf licking stimulates milk flow in the cow

Why does not a cow give milk after calving?

The main reasons for which a cow does not give milk after calving are usually caused by postpartum abnormalities or diseases.Physiological can be characterized by the phrase "harmful".

Physiological causes

It happens that a cow does not give milk after calving for no apparent reason. Most likely, the "wild" instincts of her ancestors leaped into her. In a common herd, the uterus did not give milk to someone else's calf. In this case, the cow "squeezes" the nipples and "refuses" to milk. A similar situation occurs when a stranger tries to milk an animal. In dairy cattle breeds, these instincts are almost destroyed, but in outbred or aboriginal animals, this is still found. Control measures here are relatively simple: a calf is allowed near the cow during milking. Sometimes it is enough if the calf is close behind the partition.

The second reason may be the cow's chronic thirst. This does not mean that owners are keeping the animal out of water. In the absence of succulent grass or feed substitutes, the cow drinks enough to support her own body. It "releases" much less liquid for milk production than it could if there were foods that contain a lot of liquid in the diet. Even in old milked cows in a dry season, milk yield can be reduced to 4 liters per day. Under these circumstances, a recently calved animal may not produce milk at all. Or it will only be enough for a calf.

Another physiological reason is the consequences of previously transferred mastitis. Oftentimes, adhesions in the nipples after inflammation make the cow sluggish. Getting milk from such an animal is a difficult task. Especially when it comes to colostrum on the first day after calving. It is much thicker and does not pass well through the narrow canal of the nipple. It may seem that such a cow has calved, but she has no milk. It is there, but in the early days only a calf can get it. Sometimes it makes sense to teach such an individual to feed several stranger cubs.

Due to severe swelling, the cow may also not give milk, as it hurts from touching the udder. Such queens sometimes drive away the calf. Whether this can be considered a pathology is a difficult question. Swelling of the udder before calving is normal. It is called "bulk". It is believed that a cow will soon calve if all the skin folds on the udder are straightened out.

But the swelling can be very severe. Then the animal is simply hurt, it does not allow touching the udder and "clamps" the colostrum.

Sometimes the reason is that a cow is "unwilling" to milk in an inappropriate milking machine. It could be damaged. The cow may have irregular teats. The machine can be very old and cause pain when milking the animal.

Pathological causes

With pathologies, the situation is worse, since they range from a simple hormonal disruption to infectious diseases that are dangerous for humans. The reasons for the cow not giving milk may be:

  • hormonal disbalance;
  • metabolic disease;
  • any of the postpartum complications;
  • mastitis;
  • brucellosis;
  • other infectious diseases.

Any malaise and even too dry feed leads to a decrease in milk yield. But a cow does not give milk after calving for relatively few reasons.

Hormonal disbalance

Possible with a lack of prolactin, a hormone responsible for milk production. Cows of any age are affected. The production of prolactin directly depends on the amount of oxytocin in the animal's body. But it is very difficult to determine the lack of this hormone without special tests. If in humans, a lack of oxytocin is manifested by a whole list of psychological symptoms, then with animals it is more difficult. It is unlikely that a cow owner will pay attention to some cow's irritability. Will blame bad temper or the search for his place in the herd. Especially when it comes to the heifer.

Therefore, a situation may well arise when the heifer calved, and the udder did not fill up before the calf appeared. There may be no milk either. This means that there is not enough prolactin in the body of first-calf heifers.You can try to correct the situation by injecting oxytocin, which stimulates the production of prolactin by the pituitary gland.

Improper feeding provokes metabolic disorders and postpartum complications. One of the symptoms of these problems is the development of mastitis. The latter can arise "by itself" due to damage to the udder and penetration of pathogens into the wounds.

Twins in a cow are also an undesirable hormonal imbalance during a hunt, due to possible surges in hormones, such animals are rejected from further breeding: today they brought twins, and tomorrow they "refuse" to give milk


It proceeds in a light or severe stage. Private owners usually notice the disease when the cow has already calved, and the udder remains firm, and there is little milk. An easy stage cannot be determined without analysis. An express check is also available to a private owner, but it is usually neglected. On farms, after calving, samples of colostrum are taken from each teat before the newborn is admitted to the udder.

If the inflammation of the breast is caused by non-infectious causes, treatment is usually done with massage and frequent sucking. In the presence of Staphylococcus aureus, antibiotics are recommended.


The most unpleasant reason for the lack of milk. The disease develops slowly, there are no symptoms at an early stage. It is for this reason that dairy cattle owners are required to be tested for brucellosis. In addition to the results of laboratory tests, at an early stage, the disease is manifested by abortion at a later stage. Therefore, if a cow calves ahead of time and does not have milk, it is necessary to check the animal for brucellosis as soon as possible.

Pregnancy lasts 9 months, and miscarriages usually occur just 8-9 months. Since this is not a normal calving and the necessary hormonal background has not been established, milk is not produced.

Attention! There is no need to try to milk an aborted cow.

This is dangerous primarily for the owner of the animal. Brucellosis is well transmitted through raw milk.

Often the owner does not want to believe that his outwardly healthy and high-yielding cow is terminally ill.

What to do if a cow calves, but there is no milk

It would be desirable to determine the reason for the lack of milk. But if calving was normal and on time, and there is no mastitis, then lactation can be caused by an injection of oxytocin. Feeding errors that lead to metabolic disorders can no longer be corrected. You can only stimulate milk flow.

But we must remember that the "main task" of oxytocin is the contraction of the smooth muscles of the uterus during calving. For a layman, the easiest way is to inject the hormone subcutaneously or intramuscularly. In this case, a dose that is doubled as compared to intravenous or epidural administration is required. But there were no side effects from an overdose of oxytocin. The dose for a cow with intramuscular injection is 30-60 IU. Single injection. Also, the drug is injected if the cow has too weak contractions.

Comment! The introduction of oxytocin immediately after calving facilitates the release of the placenta.

Mastitis cannot be cured instantly. In this case, the calf is watered with colostrum from another cow, and the uterus is given a course of antibiotic therapy. The latter can be of local or general action. In the first case, an antibacterial ointment is injected into the nipples. It is impossible to let the cub to the udder at this time.

If mastitis has spread to the entire lobe or the entire udder, it is better to use intramuscular injections of antibiotics. It is advisable to donate the contents of the udder every 2 hours.

If calving was premature, the calf is unlikely to survive. The tissue samples from the corpse must be delivered to the laboratory for testing.

Retained placenta, even with timely calf birth, may be an early sign of brucellosis.

Veterinarian advice

Except for the treatment of mastitis, there are no special recommendations from veterinarians.Sometimes it is even impossible to understand why an outwardly perfectly healthy animal does not give milk. Therefore, recommendations are only possible if there are obvious reasons.

If the cow is not milked due to edema, she is given diuretics. In order not to overload the liver and kidneys with strong drugs, a decoction of dill is soldered. It is best to brew only the seeds. They have a stronger diuretic effect. In parallel, the udder is massaged with upward movements. The posterior lobes are slightly punched in the direction from the nipples to the tail. Front - forward to the stomach.

Attention! You cannot crush strongly, this will cause pain.

To prevent severe swelling, the cow must be removed from the concentrates during the last month of pregnancy. After two weeks, the udder should be back to normal.

For treatment with mastitis, the drug Percutan is well suited. It is a spray form for external use. They are used not only for mastitis, but also for disinfection of minor skin lesions. Use milk from unprocessed healthy lobes. The infected with staphylococcus is removed and destroyed. You can't give it to a calf either.

All manipulations can create problems for a cow owner who does not have special skills. In this case, it is better to invite a veterinarian.


If the cow does not give milk after calving, but looks healthy, an injection of oxytocin is given as first aid. The swelling can also be removed by yourself The rest of the problems of lack of milk require the intervention of a specialist and an accurate diagnosis.

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