Okay, so we’ve discussed a whole lot about the serious stuff.
Pasture measurement, pasture fertilisation, calf weaning, livestock fencing, cow diseases – you name it.
But as you know, cows are incredibly cute. And Christmas is around the corner.
So, it’s time to lighten up a little and appreciate our cows for the adorable animals that they are! We’re going to take you through a bunch of facts about dairy cows and dairy that will make you smile, go ‘aww’ or maybe even shock you a little!
Let’s get started with 16 fun facts!
- Did you know that the average dairy cow chews at least 50 times per minute? That sure is a lot of patience!
- Cows don’t bite grass. Instead, what they do is curl their tongues around clumps of grass and then pull it and tear it into their mouths!
- If for some reason, you’re taking a cow up a flight of stairs, you may need an elevator to get them down because they can’t walk downstairs. Why? Because their knees don’t bend that way!
- A cow’s sense of smell is much stronger than a human’s sense of smell. Cows can pick up scents from up to 6 miles away.
- It’s not just about smells. Cows can heat both lower and higher frequencies much better than humans can.
- Cows are such friendly little fellows. They’re social animals that usually form special bonds with other herd members. And as friendly as they are, they will also go to great lengths to avoid cows they don’t like!
- The average dairy cow drinks almost one whole bathtub of water in a day. That amounts to about 120 – 190 litres in a day!
- It’s a good thing they drink as much water as they do, to make up for all that’s lost via saliva. The average dairy cow produces approximately 55 litres of saliva in a day! Holy cow!
- Cows have the same number of teeth as us humans! That’s 32 pearly whites. They do not have top front teeth instead they have a pad.
- Cows have almost 360-degree vision but they do have some trouble looking head-on. That’s why you’ll notice that if you approach them from the front, they will probably tilt their heads slightly to look at you!
- Cows like music. And not just any type of music. Good music! Some studies have shown that certain types of music like Mozart or Beethoven can encourage cows to produce more milk! Some farmers have even installed music systems to keep their cows nice and relaxed.
- Cows love routine. They even know when it’s not their turn to be milked. They can’t be fooled!
- Cows cannot see the color red. They are red-green color blind.
- They say ‘sweat like a pig’ and not ‘sweat like a cow’ for a reason. Because cows don’t sweat! They lose heat through their breath.
- What’s a cow’s daily schedule look like? They spend 30 minutes drinking, 3-5 hours eating and 12-14 hours resting every day.
- The highest amount of milk ever produced by a cow in a year was approximately 27,000 litres by a Holstein named Robthom Sue Paddy!
Ok, so now that we’ve covered all the super-fun facts, let’s move on to the more scientific ones that make us appreciate these animals even more than we already do!
Four stomachs? What does a cow need all those stomachs for anyway?
Technically speaking, cows have only one stomach. But that one stomach is divided into four separate compartments, which they need to digest grass.
As the grass goes through each of the 4 compartments, it slowly gets transformed from raw plant to useable energy. Like we said before, cows are master chewers. They chew and chew and chew for about 8 hours per day, on average.
The swallowed grass first enters the rumen and the reticulum, which are the first two stomachs. The partially chewed food is stored here. Once the cow finishes grazing, it regurgitates grass from the rumen and then starts chewing all over again. This is what is popularly known as ‘chewing cud’.
While the rumen stores the food, it also ferments it. Bacteria break down the grass and the cow is left with fat produced by the bacteria, which is where a cow gets most of its energy from. The reticulum meanwhile helps sort out which food still needs to be chewed and broken down.
After fermentation, the food then goes to the omasum which is stomach number 3. This is a sponge-like area that sucks out water, salt and minerals and then returns them right back to the rumen.
The final stop is at the abomasum or the fourth compartment in the stomach. This works like a human stomach, dousing the food with acid – smashing it and pureeing it!
The finished product – which is energy in the form of protein, sugar and fat is now for the cows to live off. Ruminants are actually among the very few in the animal kingdom to be able to transform plain ol’ grass into a rich form of energy that ultimately, we all use.
A dairy cow that is milking typically eats about 45 kilograms of feed per day which, if roughly translates to 300 peanut butter sandwiches! Cows produce roughly around 25 – 35 litres of milk per day. That sums up to about 128 glasses of delicious and nutritious milk for our consumption!
Keepin’ it cool:
Cows like to stay cool. They already have thick skin, hair and natural insulation so they prefer to live in cooler climes of 4 degrees Celsius to 18 degrees Celsius.
There are six main breeds of dairy cows – Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey and Milking Shorthorn. Most dairy cows originally came from Europe. Also, another crazy fact – a Holstein’s spots are like fingertips. Or snowflakes. No two cows have the same pattern of black and white spots!
Cows are pregnant for 9 months just like people. The average cow is 2 years old when she has her first calf.
Okay, now that we’ve covered our favorite animals, let’s move on to discuss some fun facts about dairy!
Fun facts about the dairy industry:
- Did you know that about 73% of the calcium available in food is provided by milk and milk products?
- To get the same amount of calcium provided by one glass of 250 ml of milk, you’d have to eat 4.5 servings of broccoli or 16 servings of spinach, or 5.8 slices of whole wheat bread!
- If you’ve eaten something spicy that’s set your mouth on fire – milk is your go-to-glass! Milk is even better than water at calming your system because it has protein casein that will cleanse your taste buds.
- The concept of the ‘milkman’ and getting milk delivered to our doorstep has changed our lives for the better. It was actually started in 1942 as a war conservation measure!
- More than 1000 new dairy products are introduced each year, each one getting more and more unique by the day! Dondurma or Turkish ice cream doesn’t melt fast and is so stretchy that you could use it as a skipping rope and skip with it!
- And finally, the world has six billion consumers of milk and milk products!
We hope you enjoyed this article. Check out more articles on our blog.
- The Dedicated Team of Pasture.io, 02 November 2020