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The Types of Artificial Hormones in Cows

Updated on February 17, 2014

This article is not about organic grass fed cows that graze. The natural hormones that all animals produce are estrogen/estrdiol, progesterone and testosterone. This article is about that beef or milk that you get at major stores and restaurants. These are normally produced from hormone pumped up cows.

What are Hormones

Hormones are chemicals that are able to alter the functions of cells. Most hormones work as regulators for common body functions. It tells the cells when to speed up its function or when to slow down. They are naturally produced by the body, but can it be synthesized in a lab.

Scientists’ have found out how to significantly increase the size of animals with chemicals. Unfortunately, humans are the main consumers of such a daring experiment. There is no way to remove the types hormones in Cows before it is consumed. Heat, digestion and other processes do not totally eliminate the chemicals. It simply moves up the chain of foods.

Idaho milk farmers were recently sued by the FDA for bad hormonal practices on cows.
Idaho milk farmers were recently sued by the FDA for bad hormonal practices on cows. | Source

General Reference

Research that proves synthetic Hormones lead to cancer

How Hormones move from Cows to Humans

How are Hormones given to Cows?

How are hormones given to cows?

There are two main methods of administering hormones in cows. The most basic method is by injection. The other method is by implants. The implants are normally placed behind the ears of the cows. Both injections and implants are administered based on the maturation of the cows. Implants are more popular because it is less hands on. Implants steadily release hormones in the cow over a preset time while injections have to be given manually.


This is a form of estrogen that is given to cows. It is specifically associated with the muscle/fat ratio of the body. It is the main reason why the flesh of cows has so much fat. This hormone in cows send a signal to fat cells to absorb more nutrients and water. The fat cells therefore become larger and may divide into more cells. The body is then intelligent enough to create blood vessels to continue feeding and servicing fat cells. This is the main reason why cows and humans affected increase in fat content.

Fat Cells or Adipose Tissues

It is important to remember that fat cells also store and release estrogen and progesterone. Once the adipose tissues become larger due to the effects of synthetic hormones, they will in turn produce these same hormones naturally.

This hormone is only naturally produced in the female body, especially when she becomes pregnant. The function of estradiol is to ensure that the body stores enough fat as reserve energy during the development of the baby. It should not be given to cows on a daily basis. The continuous administration of this hormone to non-pregnant cows disrupts the natural cycle of the cow.




This hormone is produced naturally in the human body. It plays a vital role in the menstrual cycle. Increased levels of progesterone are observed during pregnancy. A drop in this hormone normally signals the onset of labour. It signals to the body how long to keep gaining weight and works closely with estrogen.


This type of hormone in the cow is responsible for muscle growth. The larger the animals muscles, the more fat that the animal can store. Testosterone is mainly administered to beef cows. Especially, when they intend to slaughter a young cow and would like the cow to develop lean meat at an early age.


Zeranol is actually synthetic estrogen. It is specifically designed to be a growth promoter in cows and pigs. It is only used in the USA and Canada on medium to large cattle farms. It enables the animals to reach puberty stage at a much earlier phase. This is so that the animals can grow larger and at a much faster pace.

A series of studies have also showed that zeranol increases the risk of cancer in cows and humans alike. (reference:

This hormone is actually secreted by a genetically modified fungus called Fusarium.

Trenbolone acetate

It is considered to be the most potent anabolic steroid in the world. Trenbolone acetate is similar to testosterone but far stronger. The most obvious side effect of the drug is constant aggressive behaviours. It is mostly used on beef cattles.

Melengestrol acetate

It is a synthetic form of progesterone. It is used to trigger an earlier onset of puberty along with estradiol. Melengestrol acetate is more potent than its natural counterpart. This hormone is effective in inducing accelerated weight gains when used in conjunction with testosterone and estrogen.


This hormone is mostly used on milking cows in order to increase milk production of each cow. It is also the most controversial of all the hormones. It is Developed and synthesized by the Monsanto Corporation. The chemical increases the output of milk from the mammary glands of the cows. It is also notoriously linked to the mad cow disease.



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    • WildRoseBeef profile image

      WildRoseBeef 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Not a problem. I always like to talk about stuff like this and have my say on it. Thanks for writing an article like this.


    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Wildrosebeef. I hope you have noticed that I have taken your comments into consideration and have made the necessary changes. I am very grateful for the points you have given me.

      This article is specifically designed to create awareness about hormone manipulation and the commercialization of cows. And how it affects human health.

      You are obviously an expert on the topic and I appreciate the scrutiny. There is almost no information like this on the internet without jargon and technical terms. Thanks again.

    • WildRoseBeef profile image

      WildRoseBeef 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Just a note: The title of the article does say "types of hormones in cows," and after reading the article I found that to be a little misleading because you didn't acknowledge the fact that there were natural hormones that exist in the animals regardless if they're raised naturally (as in "organic" grass-fed) or commercially (feedlot, grain-fed, hormone-implanted). That is why I thought I might mention such things in my comments above in order to let your other readers know that it shouldn't be put aside that hormones occur naturally in livestock, again, regardless if they're raised naturally or commercially.

      I hope you understand my position. :)

    • WildRoseBeef profile image

      WildRoseBeef 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Understood, but you still are going to get all animals producing their own natural hormones regardless if they're organic grass-fed or not. I thought it was something worth mentioning.

      I did in fact see the part about fat cells producing hormones. I think I tried to acknowledge that but must have failed in that attempt.

      "[In] order to get the cows larger and more commercially profitable, artificial hormones will have to be administered." I know about that too. I also attempted to acknowledge that but probably should've made it more obvious.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Wildrosebeef.

      I stated this in the side note about fat cells producing hormones. You may have missed it.

      However, in order to get the cows larger and more commercially profitable, artificial hormones will have to be administered.

      This article is not about organic grass fed cows.

    • WildRoseBeef profile image

      WildRoseBeef 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Much of the hormones that you mentioned are also found naturally in cattle, especially that of progesterone, estrogen/estradiol and testosterone. Why people would think that these hormones are not found in an animal's body naturally is beyond me.

      "[Estradiol] is only naturally produced in the female body, once she becomes pregnant." I don't believe this is true, at all. Estradiol, a form of estrogen, is naturally produced in the female body even before she is pregnant, and is really what determines her sex and aids in the normal growth and development of the female reproductive organs during the first trimester as a fetus. Should a heifer fetus share a placenta with a twin bull, the testosterone from the bull hinders her ability to grow normal sex organs, and thus may have abnormal sex organs or reproductive organs of both sexes. Such a heifer is called a freemartin.

      Testosterone is also found in bulls, and is what makes bulls bulls. Yes it is given to heifers or young cows to make the meat leaner, without a doubt, but it is one of those naturally occurring hormones in cattle. Steers do not have testosterone, but still retain the maleness ability to produce a little leaner beef than a heifer would. Estradiol benzoate or its counterparts are used on steers to make them gain more was mentioned above. :)

      MGA for heifers inhibits their ability to go into regular heat, more that than encouraging them to go into heat earlier, though that's also its function.

      Other than those few things and little errors I noticed, thumbs up and voted interesting on the article. :)


    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Lady E. the English are much more self concious and bans American beef and milk products. Soy is another story and is mainly produced from GMO soy crops.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Vinaya. I can bet your cows naturally graze and feed. Those cows are cool and pose no threat to humanity.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 5 years ago from London, UK

      Wow... this is an eye opener. No wonder many turn to Soya milk instead of dairy. I tend to use evaporated tinned milk. Hope they have no chemicals Rasta1.

      Thanks and Best Wishes. (Voted Interesting and Useful)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Even though I have raised cows in my farm I did not know about hormones in cows. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive article.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Backwater Sage. Unfortunately, what you say is true.

    • Backwater Sage profile image

      Backwater Sage 5 years ago from Old Elbow Creek

      Hey. Come to Florida and get some intesecticide, chemical fertilizer "produce" to make a salad to go with that steak.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 5 years ago from Jamaica

      @Billybuc. Scientist are working for businesses that want profit. They have no love for humanity.

      @ Simba73. It is very scary what is happening now, They have total control over the growth of cows.

    • Simba73 profile image

      Simba73 5 years ago from UK

      This scary stuff !!!

      Is there nothing we don't mess with ??? If they made a movie about this kind of thing in the twenties it would be Si-Fi unreal !!!

      great hub my friend


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, that was a very interesting, and sobering, article. Why is it that I have little faith in some scientists? Because they keep messing around with nature, that's why! Great article!