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blood and pus in cow milk

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 
Sorry about the gross title... I've read on some anti-milk sites that there's blood and/or pus in cow milk and I'm wondering how it gets there. Some say it's because the cows are so full of hormones that their udders are swollen and infected, but is the pus actually *in* the milk? Nursing mothers are encouraged to continue nursing through bouts of mastitis and are assured that no yucky stuff will get into their milk. What's different about cows w/ mastitis?

I'm not trying to make an argument for drinking animal milk. I agree that it's not nutritionally necessary for humans. I just want to understand the assertion that it's contaminated.
post #2 of 69
Yes, milk is allowed to contain a certain amount of pus, although there is a limit. The amount of pus present in milk is called the 'somatic cell count' - if you do a search for this you should find pro as well as anti milk sites which tell you about pus in milk. In the UK about 40% of cows have mastitis in any given year - the main cause of pus in milk, although other infections can contribute. Hope that helps.
post #3 of 69
Any milk one can typically get at the grocery store is not going to be healthy, whether it's from blood and pus, antibiotics, pasturization, homogenation, etc.
I would image the horrible, inhumane dairy farming practices are the cause of the blood and pus in the milk. Those cows are given hormones to boost their milk production to an amount insanely unnatural and then pumped full of antibiotics to prevent infections.

I would definitely encourage anyone interested in dairy to find a small local organic farm. In my opinion that's the ONLY healthy milk you can get.
post #4 of 69
Thread Starter 
I understand about the dirty, inhumane conditions on factory farms, and that the cows are pumped full of hormones to increase their supply. What I don't get is *how* the pus gets in the milk. If a lactating woman gets mastitis, there's no pus in her milk (at least that's what I've been led to believe). Also, some of the no milk sites make it sound like even organic milk is contaminated.
post #5 of 69
I think the point is that this is an induced form of mastitis.

I had mastitis 3 times while bf my daughter.... and also had a cracked nipple (cracked entirely down the center) and when I would pump, it would flap open and shoot streams of PURE blood into my milk. However, I *knew* that my milk was still safe to drink, because my blood and my milk all come from MY body, KWIM? I had some white stuff on the cracks, but it was more milk build-up than pus.

NOW, if I had mastitis, and the cracked nipple (and trust me, if you're a dairy cow, those machines are waaaaaay stronger than my nice, comfy little pump, so I'm guessing cracked doesn't even begin to describe what it feels like!) is never given a chance to heal........ well, it might get truly all-out infected, to where contaminated pus is in the milk.

I treated my nipples with lansinoh and made sure they got fresh air and made sure I was treating my mastitis ASAP.... so it didn't abcess.....

I'm pretty sure those poor cows are not getting the same loving care.

Kimberly
post #6 of 69

nomadmom

Pus (white blood cells) gets into the milk mostly due to tiny tears in the inside of the udder. Most dairy cows are now injected with bovine growth hormone-BGH- which causes them to produce about 20 times the milk than they would naturally. Due to this, their udders grow huge-usually to the point where they drag on the ground. So, with an enlarged udder, the tears are not so tiny anymore, and white blood cells (pus) rush to the area to heal the tears and fight the infections they cause. This elevated amount of cells (and blood) goes right into the milk when the cow is milked. So, while all milk, even organic, antibiotic free milk contains pus (because all udders tear a little on the inside) it's the commercial, non organic milk that really contains alot of it. Hope this was helpful!
post #7 of 69
Quote:
Originally posted by kimberlylibby

I treated my nipples with lansinoh and made sure they got fresh air and made sure I was treating my mastitis ASAP.... so it didn't abcess.....

I'm pretty sure those poor cows are not getting the same loving care.
I'm going to do my song and dance again, so here goes:

I used to work on a small dairy farm that was part of the Cabot collective.

Cows on huge factory dairy farms are probably not getting the same TLC that you (and I) give our boobs when we have plugged ducts or mastitis.

However, keep in mind that cows (just like us) will lose their milk, at least in the affected quarter, if the infection is allowed to continue. No one wants that, least of all the owner, as it means less milk and hence less money.

On our farm (with about 40 head actively milking at any given time), we jumped right on the first signs of mastitis. We stripped the heck out of the affected teat(s), applied ointment and, where indicated, gave antibiotics. We also never, EVER milked a cow with suspected or confirmed mastitis into the tank. Holy moly, we'd be goners if we did. The boss would've had our hides.

FYI, I have NO clue what PETA and other organizations of its ilk could possibly have in mind when they talk about blood in the milk. Huh? Like, maybe if there's some raging infection and someone milks into the tank, some blood platelets get in, but please refer to the above if you have any question about how much pus-infected milk gets into the milk supply.

Oh, BTW, cows with mastitis can have the most disgusting, huge clots of pus I've ever seen. Nothing like what I experienced, myself, when I had plugged ducts. But even one little clot meant no tank for that cow's milk, and set the whole mastitis treatment machine in motion.

And as one more BTW, if you're concerned about this issue, then buy only organic or small collective dairy products.
post #8 of 69
For it/against it.... Puss/no puss... blood/no blood.... It all comes down to this one FACT : it's breast milk from a cow. Most people wouldn't drink breast milk from a cat, dog, horse,rat, hippo, etc..... why is it looked upon so differently ?
post #9 of 69
Ha. So true.

In fact, I recall, when I was pumping for my daughter, a few NASTY remarks about how GROSS it was that I was joking about putting MY milk in our lasagna.

WHY? It's HUMAN milk? Why is HUMAN milk creepy? WHY is the milk of a cow's udder somehow "okay" and "normal" but another human's milk is "creepy"?

I don't get it. It is SO SO SO SO SO disgusting for me to think about nursing off of a cow (yes, just for a second, appease me, close your eyes and imagine how nice it would be to wrap your lips around the udder of a cow and slurp away).

I'm betting $10 you thought THAT was gross! OF COURSE IT IS!! It's a COW!!! We weren't MADE to drink off of a cow's udder or we would have been born as baby calves!!!

Gotta go, I think I see a goat coming down the street... maybe I can get it to stop so I can get a quick drink (that's a joke!).

Kimberly
post #10 of 69
Yeah, it seems so unnatural to me too! Imagine a cat nursing off of a dog, or a rat nursing off of a pig.....the word weird comes to mind! That's how I feel about humans drinking the milk from a cow. Humans are the only species that not only consume the milk of another animal, but drinks it beyond the nursing phase. Besides, cows have three stomachs to digest their milk-we obviously only have one stomach, and also, the milk of a cow is meant to make the calf grow hundreds of pounds in a very short time- it seems completely unsuitable for humans to me. I think the only milk we where meant to drink is that of our mother's breast, not from another animal with completely different anatomy and needs!
post #11 of 69
Quote:
Originally posted by kimberlylibby


WHY? It's HUMAN milk? Why is HUMAN milk creepy? WHY is the milk of a cow's udder somehow "okay" and "normal" but another human's milk is "creepy"?
I love this comment! What a good point! Now, if someone could give me some recipes for mamma's milk yogurt and cheese, I'll be all set.
post #12 of 69
Quote:
I don't get it. It is SO SO SO SO SO disgusting for me to think about nursing off of a cow (yes, just for a second, appease me, close your eyes and imagine how nice it would be to wrap your lips around the udder of a cow and slurp away).
Nah. Most of us at the source used a thumb and two fingers and shot a jet of warm, fresh milk into our mouth. Yum!

I wouldn't put my mouth on a cow's udder, either, even after it's been disinfected (you spray iodine solution on it before milking and wipe the teats down till they're clean), just because of the "ew, this is gross and kinda weird" factor.

...the same "ew, this is gross and kinda weird" factor that many folks cite in opposition to breastfeeding and in opposition to using human milk in cooking.

Think about that.
post #13 of 69
Yeah, It's all a case of conditioning. Like sushi---ewww, raw fish!? Um, yeah, its yummy.

I have had raw warm milk at a farm in Wisconson when I was a little kid. Not from the teat, but in a cup.


I have seen pix of inter-species nursing too. Cats/ dogs /rabbits. It works when there is no better alternative.

Of course, we almost always have the better alternative, it is hanging off our chests. Functioning mammary glands. For those whose mammary glands do not function properly (whether from primary lactation failure, severely inverted nipples, adoption, or etc), and we have several on this board, use the alternative--either another human mom's donated milk, if you can get it, or ABM.
post #14 of 69
See, I buy your "conditioning" thing.... but I think we've just been societally conditioned to think of cow's milk as normal.

Very few people think about cow's milk as being a cow's milk, made for it's baby. In fact, when I tell my friends to think about it being a cow's breastmilk, they're like "ewwwwww, gross! just don't talk about it that way!!" What? Talk about it like it really is?

Sorry, I refuse to lie in ignorance and deny that the drinking the milk of a cow is abnormal for any species except our twisted "must dominate at all costs" human species.

Kimberly
post #15 of 69
here is a link of on going documentation ( NOT FROM PETA) that follows trends in pus. pus allowed in milk
Quote:
Stress in general is thought to cause elevated somatic cell counts. University of Florida scientists2 suggest heat stress and high humidity as reasons for somatic cell counts to increase during the summer months. First, heat stress may amplify the cow's susceptibility to infection by decreasing her resistance to mastitis-causing pathogens. Secondly, warm, humid weather favors the growth of mastitis-causing pathogens which increases the chances of pathogens entering the cow's udder.
yep, just like humans.
Just do a search on dairy mastitis management and you will see it is a HUGE business-
I have also read in my travels that amount of pus is a direct influence of dairy shelf life. The lesser amounts means a longer shelf life for the product.pictures and study
Marlena- I have heard you praise Cabot before, and have read about Cabot too. I am glad they are committed to a family-oriented style of dairy production. Now if they can share that committment with the rest of the factory farms
post #16 of 69
Thread Starter 
The poor, poor cows Thank you for all the info. on both sides of the issue. I, too, have had mastitis and was quite ill (104 temp, felt like I'd been hit by a truck), but I never could have imagined the scenario of the cows w/ huge pus clots and cracked, bleeding udders. Now it makes sense how the milk gets contaminated. I appreciate the info. about the sick cows that were treated kindly.

As far as our society's attitude toward human milk, yeah that's messed up. I grew up drinking tons of cow milk and so did almost everyone I know, so most people just accept it as normal. Only as an adult did I start to think about the source and get a little grossed out. I only buy organic, but recently have been thinking of issues beyond hormones/antibiotics/cruelty. I don't drink milk, but I use it in stuff and I sometimes eat yogurt and cheese. I've often thought about giving it all up, so I want to learn as much as I can whether pro or con. As far as I can see, the only pro is that ice-cream and cheese taste so yummy!

Any way, thanks everyone!
post #17 of 69
Mmmm, ice cream and cheese ARE yummy.

I love sorbet though! And a can of frozen peaches, thrown in the blender.... YUM!

For cheese, I make a gorgeous nutritional yeast sauce that is great for dipping tortilla chips in YUM YUM

Kimberly
post #18 of 69
Non-dairy ice cream and cheese taste good too. I thought I would miss cheese and ice cream when I went vegan, but there are great subs now.

Soy Delicious purely decadent is a great ice cream line.

And Vegan Gourmet Cheese alternative is a great non-dairy cheese.

Go here to see a list of other great products to use instead.
post #19 of 69
Quote:
Originally posted by kimberlylibby
For cheese, I make a gorgeous nutritional yeast sauce that is great for dipping tortilla chips in
That sounds great! Would you be willing to share the recipe?
post #20 of 69

nomadmom

Erin is right- the non dairy stuff also tasts great. When my husband went vegan for health reasons, he thought he would miss cheese and ice cream, but was pleasantly surprised by the great non dairy ice creams (soy delicious is our favorite- I served it at my dd's b-day party, and all of the dairy eaters said it was better than cow milk ice cream, and were scrambling for pens to write down where they could get it!) and the non dairy cheeses. I use them on pizzas (I even bring a bag of grated non dairy cheese to the pizza place, and they put it on for me instead of their stuff) and I make lasagna, casseroles, scalloped potatoes....all the same things, just non dairy.
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