• parathyroid hormone ;
  • periparturient cow;
  • crosslinked telopeptide of type 1-collagen;
  • magnesium


This experiment studied the effect of pre-partal milk removal on calcium metabolism at start of milking and at calving. Nine cows of the Swedish Red breed were milked for 1–7 days pre-partum. The average milk yield at the first milking was 4.8 l, and the average yield the last day prior to calving was 13.4 l. Five cows were used as control cows and were only milked post-partum. Samples of plasma and urine were taken to determine the effect of pre-partum milking and calving on levels of calcium, magnesium, parathyroid hormone and plasma C-terminal crosslinked telopeptide of type 1-collagen (CTx), used as a marker of bone resorption. Pre-partum milking resulted in a decrease in plasma calcium that was evident 2 days after the first milking. Parathyroid hormone increased at the same time, and CTx started to increase from 24 h after the first milking. There were no effects on plasma magnesium or urinary output of calcium or magnesium. The first week after calving, there were no differences between pre-partum milked cows and control cows in plasma or urine variables, or in milk yield. In conclusion, pre-partum milking activated the calcium-restoring mechanisms but did not improve calcium status at calving.