Why milk is bitter in a cow in winter, autumn: causes, methods of treatment

Many farmers are faced with the fact that a cow has a bitter milk in any season of the year. There can be many reasons for the appearance of bitterness in milk secretion. Most often, dairy cow owners attribute this fact to eating special plants with a specific flavor. However, there are more serious and dangerous reasons due to which such a problem appears.

List of Reasons Why Cow's Milk Is Bitter

Cow's milk can taste bitter for a variety of reasons. The list of factors that adversely affect the quality of milk can be conditionally divided into two groups.

The first includes the following:

  • the physical and physiological condition of the dairy cow;
  • pregnancy period;
  • the quality of feeding and the composition of the diet of the livestock of cattle;
  • livestock keeping conditions.

The second group includes the reasons associated with the violation of storage of already received products, which begin to taste bitter.


The change in the organoleptic characteristics of milk secretion during pregnancy occurs approximately 1-2 months before calving. The fetus formed in the body of the female requires a large amount of nutrients - the body of a pregnant cow is rebuilt, and most of the energy is spent on the growth and development of the calf. It is during this period that the cow is started (milking is gradually stopped, the diet is changed) and is prepared for calving.

If the mandatory start-up period for a pregnant cow is prolonged or absent, the milk received from the animal begins to taste bitter. The unpleasant taste is due to the increased content of hormones, leukocytes. In the secretion formed, there is an excess of sodium salts over calcium salts, as well as an increase in the content of fat and protein in the product.

Important! The product acquires bitterness when the animal is milked in the last months of pregnancy.

A cow's milk may taste bitter after calving. In the first 7-10 days, the secreted nutrient secretion (colostrum) may have a salty or bitter taste.

Improper nutrition

The quality of feeding and the composition of the animal's diet directly affect the properties of milk. Often, the product can taste bitter after being eaten by lactating animals:

  • rotten, moldy hay or straw (oat, barley);
  • rancid cake;
  • flaxseed meal;
  • feed with added yeast;
  • poisonous crops.

Warning! Poor quality feed leads to an increase in acidity in the stomach of the cow, which adversely affects her health and the quality of the products obtained.

An unpleasant aftertaste can also occur when eating raw potatoes, beets or green leaves.

Bitter herbs

One of the reasons milk starts to taste bitter is the eating of bitter herbs. Ruminants eagerly consume such plants.

Herbs that may cause off-flavor in milk when eaten:

  • sagebrush;
  • lupine;
  • wild onion;
  • yarrow;
  • dill;
  • garlic;
  • caraway;
  • tansy;
  • horsetail;
  • avran medicinal;
  • sweet clover;
  • chamomile;
  • field mustard.

Also, bitterness in milk secretion sometimes appears when lactating animals eat cabbage, turnips, radishes, rutabagas and other plants of the Cruciferous family.

Bitter herbs help stimulate appetite and have a beneficial effect on digestion

Breast injury

Any injury to the mammary gland, like mastitis, leads to a change in the quality of the secretion and a decrease in its quantity. Milk can acquire a bitter taste, change its consistency and color.

In case of breast injuries, you must immediately seek help from a veterinarian.

Lack of minerals

The reason for the appearance of bitterness in milk in a cow in winter may be an unbalanced diet, namely a lack or excess of vitamins, micro- and macroelements.

Unpleasant taste of milk secretion in the absence of other reasons is often associated with a deficiency in the diet of dairy animal cobalt. The cow has a perverse appetite, which manifests itself in the form of licking objects, walls, eating earth. It is also possible to reduce milk yield and milk fat content.


A very common reason that milk has become bitter is infestations. One of the most severe diseases is fascioliasis. Fascioles affect the body of the animal, causing acute or chronic inflammation of the liver and bile ducts, indigestion, acute intoxication.

Parasites destroy liver tissue, block the bile ducts, causing bile stasis

This type of invasion is typical for damp and swampy areas. Infection with fascioliasis occurs more often in the second half of June when cows are in the pasture.

Important! Milk from an infected animal takes on a strong bitter taste as it sours.

Hunting period

The composition and quality of the secretion is influenced by the period of sexual heat of the animal. Milk yield and fat content of milk are slightly reduced, and its organoleptic properties also change. The product may acquire a salty taste, bitterness and a different consistency.


The appearance of bitterness in the milk secretion of a dairy animal is very often associated with the presence of:

  • liver disease;
  • helminthiasis;
  • mastitis;
  • ketosis;
  • infectious diseases.

Important! Older cows' milk can also taste bitter.


When the mammary gland of a dairy animal is affected by mastitis, a change in the consistency and taste of the secret is observed. Watery, low-fat milk with flakes or curdled clots, a bitter or salty taste occurs with purulent catarrhal and purulent mastitis.

With these forms of inflammation of the mammary gland in cows, an increase in udder volume and local temperature is noted. The animal loses its appetite, is depressed. With a purulent-catarrhal form, soreness and hyperemia of the affected part of the udder is also noted.

Due to impurities of pus and blood, the milk secretion acquires a yellowish or reddish tint.

Warning! The yellow color is typical for colostrum - a nutritious milk secretion in the first 7-10 days of lactation after calving.


Another reason why milk begins to taste bitter may be a violation of protein-carbohydrate metabolism in the body of a dairy cow. Ketosis in cattle is characterized by an increase in the content of ketone bodies in the blood of the animal (acetone, beta-hydroxybutyric acid and acetoacetic acid).

This pathological condition most often occurs when there is an excess of protein in the diet of cows, for example, feeding a large amount of concentrated feed, as well as silage and pulp. Substances accumulate in various tissues and biological fluids of the body, including milk.

Warning! Dairy cows at the age of 5-7 years are more likely to develop ketosis.

Disruption of the liver or gallbladder

The fact that milk begins to taste bitter is often provoked by congenital and acquired diseases of the liver and gallbladder. Serious violations in the work of these organs immediately make themselves felt in the change in the properties of milk secretion. Deformation of the gallbladder, a decrease in the lumen of the ducts cause stagnation of bile in the body. The milk is bitter and yellowish.

In the presence of a congenital anomaly of the digestive system, the product will always have a bitter taste.

Infectious diseases

Infectious diseases also negatively affect the organoleptic properties of milk. Leptospirosis is one of the most common natural focal infections caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. At the beginning, the disease is asymptomatic, as the liver, kidneys, capillaries are damaged, fever appears. Sick individuals lose weight, productivity sharply decreases, and milk, due to stagnation of bilirubin, acquires a yellowish tint and a bitter taste.

A bitter-salty secret can also become with a very dangerous infectious disease - udder tuberculosis.

It is strictly forbidden to consume milk from a cow with udder tuberculosis.

Violation of sanitary standards

In autumn and winter, cow's milk can taste bitter for the following reasons:

  • violation of sanitary standards of maintenance;
  • lack of hygiene during the milking process;
  • using dirty containers for collecting milk;
  • the use of stale water and dirty napkins when washing and wiping the udder.

A large number of bacteria entering milk negatively affect its organoleptic properties. To eliminate the unfavorable factors contributing to the appearance of bitterness in milk secretion, it is necessary:

  • the room where the dairy cow is located must be cleaned and disinfected in a timely manner, as well as maintain a favorable microclimate in it;
  • to subject feeders and drinkers to regular sanitization;
  • change the old dirty bedding daily, as it often causes disease not only for farm animals, but also for contamination of finished products.

Before milking, thoroughly rinse with clean water and dry the udder of the cow. The container for collecting milk must be clean, without residues of the product that was milked last time. Detergents used to handle the container can also lead to bitterness in the milk.

Personal hygiene rules should be followed. The farmer's hands and clothing must be clean.

Important! When stalling (especially in winter), the cow must be provided with walks.

It is better to express the first streams of milk in a separate container or pour out

Violation of the rules for storing milk

If the rules for storing the obtained product are violated, milk may taste bitter if:

  • direct sunlight falls (oxidation of milk fat, proteins);
  • the product is kept in a metal container (iron or copper);
  • storage container is improperly handled;
  • do not comply with the temperature regime in the room;
  • mix different batches of the product (morning and evening).

Advice! It is better to store fresh milk in a glass or ceramic container in a cool place.

Shelf life of raw milk at different temperatures:

  • + 1 ... +2 ° С - two days;
  • + 3 ... +4 ° С - 36 hours;
  • + 6 ... +8 ° С - up to 18 hours;
  • + 8 ... +10 ° С - up to 12 hours.

Purchased milk may taste bitter due to improper transportation and storage.

What to do if a cow's milk is bitter

If the cow's milk is bitter, the problem can be corrected, however, first of all, it is necessary to identify the cause of this phenomenon.

First of all, it is important to review the nutrition and living conditions of a dairy cow. The diet should be balanced in the amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, macro- and microelements, and vitamins. You should exclude the use of a large amount of bitter herbs.

With increased acidity of the stomach, you can purchase lick salt with soda. Also, do not forget about an important component - water. The norm for an adult dairy cow is approximately 70-80 liters. This indicator depends on milk yield and ambient temperature.

Sometimes unprocessed thermally processed milk does not turn sour, but bitter. This phenomenon is due to the effect of antibiotics in the body of the animal after the treatment of diseases.

To remove an unpleasant bitter aftertaste from fresh milk, you can warm it up in a water bath to 40 ° C and cool it

How to treat a cow if milk is bitter

If the cow's milk begins to taste bitter, the first step is to take blood tests to detect diseases. You should also carefully analyze the diet and conditions of the animal.

Fascioliasis is treated with drugs with the active ingredient closantel:

Injections are administered once at the rate of 10 ml per 200 kg of animal weight.

For the treatment of fascioliasis, preparations are also used in the form of a powder, the active substance of which is fenbendazole, phenzol, etc. These are "Brovadazole" and "Albendazole".

Powder anthelmintics are given twice with an interval of 10-14 days during morning feeding.

In case of cobalt deficiency, cobalt chloride must be introduced into the diet of a milking individual. The course is two tablets per day for 30 days.

In the treatment of leptospirosis, polyvalent hyperimmune serum is used. The drug is administered in an amount of 0.4 ml per 1 kg of the body of an adult animal subcutaneously. Protective properties persist for 25 days after administration.

If you suspect liver disease, mastitis, infection, you should immediately seek the help of a veterinarian. Self-treatment or the use of folk remedies can lead to complications or death of the animal.

In the treatment of mastitis (purulent and purulent-catarrhal), a daily single use of drugs is recommended:

For washing the mammary gland, antiseptic solutions are used: furacilin, potassium permanganate, ichthyol and other agents. Any liquid is introduced into the udder of the cow very carefully, without creating a lot of pressure.

Is it okay to drink milk if it tastes bitter

Drinking milk that is bitter is not recommended, since it is not known for what reasons it acquired an unpleasant aftertaste. A bitter product bought from hands in private households may be contaminated or contain medicinal substances, including antibiotics.

Prevention measures

To prevent the appearance of diseases that negatively affect the organoleptic properties of milk, the following measures should be taken in a timely manner:

  • vaccination against infectious diseases;
  • carefully monitor the physical condition of the lactating animal;
  • observe hygienic standards of maintenance.

Important! If the cow's milk suddenly becomes bitter, the animal owner should immediately seek advice from a veterinarian.


If a cow's milk is bitter, this is a serious reason to think about the health of the animal. The sudden appearance of such an aftertaste often indicates serious liver disease, infectious and inflammatory processes. If all unfavorable factors are excluded, then the owner needs to seek the help of a specialist in order to identify the true cause.

Watch the video: Teat obstruction removal in a buffaloe (January 2022).

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