MADISON, Wis. — Serotonin is best known for eliciting feelings of happiness in the human brain, but scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found the hormone plays a role in milk production in dairy cows — and may have health implications for breastfeeding women.
Cows develop a disease called milk fever when the amount of calcium circulating in their blood decreases. Serious cases are easy to spot: Cows get cold and develop noticeable tremors. But as many as half of all dairy cows develop a milder case of milk fever that can still cause health problems for the cows and inadequate calcium for milk production.
“The more prevalent form is not easy to identify because you don’t see the animal shaking,” said Laura Hernandez, a UW-Madison professor of dairy science. “But because of the low calcium, the cows become susceptible to other diseases.”