No side-effect of oxytocin on animal health, milk: Study

Parveen Arora
Tribune News Service
Karnal, September 6
A study by National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) has brought out that oxytocin has no side effects on the health of animals and milk. “Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone in livestock. It falls under the category of peptides, therapeutic agents that treat several physiological disorders. Insulin and vasopressin are other examples of hormones under the peptides category,” said AK Srivastava, NDRI Director. Livestock farmers administer an oxytocin injection to cattle at the time of milking. “Oxytocin is released at the time of milking. It causes contraction of muscle cells surrounding milk alveoli in mammary glands,” the Director said. “Since oxytocin has a life span of 2 to 2.5 minutes, it cannot produce any side effect on the health of animals.” “There is a perception that the use of oxytocin injections at the time of milking in pregnant animals may cause abortion. It is an unscientific perception since oxytocin receptors remain absent throughout pregnancy and appear only towards the end of gestation period,” said Anjali Aggarwal, Principal Scientist, Dairy Cattle Physiology, NDRI. A disadvantage of oxytocin injection was that its continuous usage could lead to addiction and lack of response to normal milk ejection stimuli, Srivastava said. He further said, “If the animals are milked under stress-free environment and given proper milk ejection stimulus, there is no need to give oxytocin. It should be given only in problematic animals under strict veterinary advice.”