Dairy farming is an incredibly lucrative business because there is huge worldwide demand for cow’s milk. Dairy cows are unique animals that have a special relationship with humans, and their milk provides a plethora of products that people use every day.
But just how much do you know about dairy cows?
Table of Contents
Physical Facts About Dairy Cows
These 20 facts about milking dairy cows just may surprise you!
1. Dairy cows have four compartments in their stomach
They have a unique digestive system that allows for the processing of plant matter into large quantities of milk.
2. Cows prefer cool weather
The best temperature range for dairy cattle is between 40˚ and 65˚F. In consideration of animal welfare, it is recommended to have fans and misters in barns during summer to keep cows cool.
3. Every cow has a unique spot pattern
Just as every human has a unique fingerprint, no two cows have the same spot pattern. Farmers often use the markings on a cow’s hide to tell them apart in the field.
4. Cows are surprisingly athletic
Cows can run between 17mph and 25mph and can jump up to 5 feet!
5. Cows have an amazing sense of smell
Remarkably, they can pick up scent from over 6 miles away! They developed this sense as a warning system for predators, and it also enables them to smell water and fresh grass.
6. Dairy cows produce a whole lot of saliva – up to 55 litres a day!
They need to produce saliva in order to help process all the grass they are consuming in their diets.
Facts About Dairy Cow Temperament
7. Cows are dangerous
Did you know they are responsible for more human deaths than wolves, dogs, and sharks? Cows kill 22 people a year on average in the United States alone and dairy cows are responsible for roughly 5 of those deaths.
The majority of these attacks were deliberate (75%) and most people were trampled or kicked to death.
8. Cows are not fans of stairs
While they can easily climb up a few stairs, they have a difficult time walking down because they can’t see their feet, and their knees don’t bend in the right direction. You may be able to coax cows down a flight of stairs, but they won’t thank you for it.
9. Cows can kick… hard!
Dairy cows have the ability to kick behind them and to the side, which can catch people off-guard. Dairy cows may kick when they have mastitis and don’t want anyone handling their udders, or when they are annoyed. Never turn your back to an agitated cow.
10. If you want to calm down a cow, play some music!
Dairy cows enjoy classical music such as Mozart and Beethoven and may even ramp up milk production as a result. Many dairy farmers install sound systems in milking parlors to keep their cows in a good mood.
Facts About Dairy Products
11. Got Milk? The average dairy cow will make 7 to 9 gallons of milk each day
This equates to 90 glasses of milk but these values can vary based on the breed of dairy cow.
Milk is prized for its nutritional value including calcium and Vitamin A. Different breeds can offer differing milk yields, but most milk cows will produce at least 7 gallons a day.
12. Twelve pounds of whole-fat milk are required to make 1 gallon of ice cream.
Now you know why a pint of Haagen Daaz costs so much!
13. It takes 10 pounds of whole milk to make a single pound of cheese!
Depending on the type of cow, a single dairy cow can make as much as 1500 pounds of cheese a year depending on what she is fed, and the quantity of milk she produces.
14. Dairy cows make milk but milk has a lot of useful by-products
This includes butterfat which can be made into butter, and whey which can be turned into protein powder for athletes!
The curds from milk can be used to make cottage cheese, and the cream extracted from milk makes delicious ice cream.
New York produces more cottage cheese than any other state in the United States while California makes more ice cream than any other state!
Facts About Famous Dairy Cows
15. Big Bertha was a dairy cow who held two Guinness World Records
She was the oldest cow and with the most calves birthed in a lifetime. She lived to be 49 years old and had 39 calves during her incredible life!
16. Marília FIV Teatro de Naylo produced the most milk in a day
As a dairy cow from Brazil, she too won a world record by producing 127.57kg in a single day over three milking periods.
Statistical Facts About Dairy Cows
17. A cow that is actively lactating will eat 100 pounds of food a day
That’s a lot of grass!
18. Milking cows will need to drink between 30 and 50 gallons of water a day
This equals 420 pounds of water per day or enough water to fill the size of a standard bathtub.
19. There are 6 main dairy cow breeds that support the dairy industry
These include Brown Swiss cows from Switzerland, Guernsey cows, Red and White Holstein cows, Jersey cows, Ayrshire cows, and Milking Shorthorn cows which are the most popular dairy cows in Australia and New Zealand.
20. India is the country with the largest population of dairy cows
India has roughly 60 million cows spread across the country, but the US Dairy industry produces more milk than any other country in the world producing 87 million tonnes each year.