Everyone knows that cows make milk (at least I hope you do!), but there is more to this animal than meets the eye. Here are a few fun facts you might not know about the dairy cow!
1. There are SIX main breeds of dairy cattle. I have listed them from my favorite to least favorite, just so you know what I’m about. The Holstein, Brown Swiss, Jersey, Ayrshire, Guernsey and Milking Shorthorn. There is a seventh breed, the Red & White Holstein, which is a variation of the Holstein.
2. A female is called a cow and a male is called a bull. Females are the “milk-makers” and just like humans, a cow cannot produce milk until she has given birth. A baby is called a calf and babies are referred to as calves. When talking about males and females together we say cattle.
3. A newborn calf can walk on its own within one hour after it is born!
4. Most dairy cows are milked two to three times a day and will produce seven to eight gallons of milk each day! The cow that produces the most milk is called the Dairy Queen. I’m just kidding, that’s a joke, folks.
5. Dairy cattle have a ruminant digestive tract. This type of digestive system includes four stomach compartments that allow cattle to digest forages. It is a complex system and I don’t want to get into the boring details, but here is the cool part….ruminants regurgitate their food, chew and digest it again! This regurgitated food is called “cud”. On average, a cow will spend 8 hours a day chewing cud. Cud chewing is a good indicator of a happy cow. Check out a happy cow here:
6. The average weight of a dairy cow is 1,500 lbs. The average weight of a newborn calf is 90 lbs. Ouch.
7. Cows only have teeth on the bottom of their jaw!
8. The dairy cow has the highest daily drinking requirement of all land-based mammals. The modern dairy cow drinks 30-50 gallons of water each day.
9. A milking cow eats approximately 100 lbs of feed a day. Ufda.
10. Cows are social animals, and they naturally form large herds. Like people, they will make friends and bond with some herd members, while avoiding others. Dairy Carrie, a fellow blogger, recently posted this picture of her Red & White Holsteins. They like to stick together!
Wow, who knew the cow was such a complex creature?! Now that you know all these fun facts you can go and impress your friends!