Milking Cow

Inhumane: considered cruel or unkind

The conventional milking machines used to milk cows (and other animals) inflict pain and physical damage that is a result of their inadequate rest phase. These companies have repeatedly admitted to the harm caused by their milking machines in US patent documents in their failed attempts to correct the problem. One international manufacturer stated:

"milking machines have generally tended to perform under an unvarying milking condition throughout the milking processes, subjecting the teats to a constant level of working vacuum and to an unvarying pulsation of the teat liners. Such an unvarying milking condition can be undesirable, both in terms of the safety for the animal being milked and in terms of the quantity and quality of the milk obtained."

The harm caused by conventional milking machines results in mastitis driving farmers to docking tails and the routine use of antibiotics and hormones to combat the symptoms. Read the facts that follow and review the photos below that are examples of the damage and harm inflicted and ask yourself how you would describe the effect of conventional milking machines. Note that although there are organizations claiming to certify farms as humane NONE of those organizations has any criteria for evaluating the milking process. Therefore the animals can be subjected to several minutes of painful physical abuse from a milking machine several times a day and still be considered as humane.

Facts demonstrating the inhumane treatment of cows by conventional milking machines:

  1. Cows kick an average of .4 times per minute while milking (JDS 85:2551-2561)
  2. Teats are swollen by the milking process (Irish Vet Journal, Vol 57, May 2004)
  3. Teat canals are physically damaged by milking process (Irish Vet Journal, Vol 56, Jan 2003)
  4. Average cow survives just over 2 years producing milk before being slaughtered (USDA data)
  5. 73% of dairy cows have inadequate muscling by the time they are slaughtered (Univ. of Idaho)
  6. Placing your finger into the same milking machine used to milk a cow will quickly lead to reddening and pain that few can endure for more than a minute, let alone the 5 minutes it takes to milk a cow.

Anyone watching a cow milk with a conventional milking system will readily observe the many conditions listed above. They will note the complete failure of the milk flow to cease during the "rest" phase which causes the physical destruction of the teat canals. The destruction causes scar tissue formation making it difficult to impossible for the cow to let her milk down leading to mastitis and permanent udder damage. Watch the videos of cows milking, note that the reaction to the pain is obvious.

Consider the evaluation of the action of milking machines by the past President of a European association responsible for assessing the treatment of animals in research. Consider his evaluation, the facts above and the many photos examples below and ask yourself if milking cows with a conventional milking machine is humane. Further consider that an innovative solution exists in the form of the CoPulsation Milking System which is proven to provide a gentle milking action most close to that of a calf suckling. The cows milked with this product will calmly stand while milking with this product noted to be the only humane way to milk an animal with a machine.

The evidence supporting the fact that milking cows with conventional milking machines is fundamentally inhumane as it results in repeated pain and swelling each milking combined with the cumulative physical damage and destruction of the teat canal and udder resulting in premature slaughter of the animal.

deformed udder healthy udder healthy udder
The two cows on the left each have one teat that has been turned to dead flesh by placing a castration band at the base of the teat cutting off blood circulation. Other methods include slicing teats off with a knife and chemical blinding ( documented and practiced by University of Washington - Larry Fox, Journal Dairy Science 84:1976-1978). The group of cows in the photo on the right show udders permanently damaged/deformed.
Dairy farmers regularly struggle with cows that simply do not like to be milked due to the pain induced by the abusive conventional milking machines. The following photos are some examples of what farmers often resort to doing in order to milk a cow. Some will tie the animals leg against the parlor structure, others use an anti-kicker device. In the most modern parlors the large dairy companies have addressed the kicking with auto-indexing systems that literally compress the cow by forcing her against the parlor structure tight enough that she cannot lift her leg enough to kick. Even in those very modern parlors the cows with do a very unhappy "dance".

Cow with leg tied

Four anti-kick bars in small parlour

The final condition of the teats shows further evidence of the type of physical abuse that conventional systems cause. The following photos show some damaged and sore teats.

Teat with severe damage - ends blown out

Very red/bluish and swollen teats - cow just milked with Lely robotic milker

The following collection of photos show many common examples of the physical damage inflicted on cows from conventional milking machines. Most of these are from advertisments from the very companies that make those products!

The harm inflicted by conventional milking machines is not limited to dairy cows. The goat pictured below has a deformed udder as noted by the right half being significantly smaller than the left. This animal has suffered damage on the right side.