Suitability of low-dosage oxytocin treatment to induce milk ejection in dairy cows

Belo, C.J.; Bruckmaier, R.M. (2010). Suitability of low-dosage oxytocin treatment to induce milk ejection in dairy cows. Journal of dairy science, 93(1), pp. 63-9. Savoy, Ill.: American Dairy Science Association 10.3168/jds.2009-2084

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Chronic use of high oxytocin (OT) dosages can cause a reduced response to endogenous OT. In this study the OT dosages used in the milking practice of 82 dairy cow farms were recorded. The OT dosages per cow used were high, especially when injected i.m. (23+/-2 IU) compared with i.v. (7+/-1 IU). In addition, the minimum OT dosages needed to obtain normal milk removal in cows with disturbed milk ejection were investigated. Seventeen cows routinely treated with OT during milking (group T) and 17 cows without previous OT treatment were used (group C). After cessation of spontaneous milk flow, both T and C groups were injected i.v. with a low dosage of OT (0.2 or 0.5 IU/cow). The time from injection until cessation of the OT-induced milk flow was recorded (response phase). The response phase and the amounts of removed milk by effect of the OT injection increased with increasing OT dosage. Values for 0.2 and 0.5 IU/cow of OT injected i.v. were (response phase and amount of milk removed) 198+/-27 and 302+/-18s and 3.4+/-0.7 kg and 6.5+/-1.3 kg, respectively, for the C group, and 157+/-15 and 221+/-16s and 3.2+/-0.5 and 5.5+/-1.0 kg, respectively, for the T group. Within 20 min of the OT injection, plasma concentrations returned to basal levels. The threshold OT concentration at cessation of milk flow after injection of 0.2 or 0.5 IU/cow of OT was calculated based on the OT plasma half-life. The threshold increased with increasing dosages of OT and was higher in group T (8+/-1 and 14+/-1 pg/mL for 0.2 and 0.5 IU/cow, respectively) than in group C (7+/-1 and 11+/-1 pg/mL for 0.2 and 0.5 IU/cow, respectively). In conclusion, desensitization of the udder toward OT occurs when the udder is exposed to elevated OT plasma concentrations, both short-term during the actual milking and long-term due to chronic high-dosage OT treatment. However, low-dosage OT treatments to induce normal milk removal can minimize the observed side effects.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Physiology

UniBE Contributor:

Bruckmaier, Rupert




American Dairy Science Association




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:36

Last Modified:

21 Jan 2014 15:05

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 221270)

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