The Cabot Creamery farmers at Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont are very fond of their small herd of Jersey cows. Like all our member-farmers, they pay close attention to their cows’ behavior to keep them as happy and healthy as possible. Part of that is understanding what’s normal, so that anything out-of-the-ordinary can be caught early in case it indicates a problem.
Billings is also one of the co-op’s educational farm members. It continues a long tradition dating back to 1871, when Frederick Billings set out to build a farm and forestry operation that would serve future generations as a model of wise stewardship. Today, through interactive programs and events, exhibits, and most importantly, the working dairy farm, more than 55,000 annual visitors learn about farming past and present.
Matt Deome, Assistant Farm Manager for Billings, gave us some of the real cow facts that the team shares with their visitors.
Top Ten Facts About Dairy Cows
1. Cud-ilicious: The average cow chews at least 50 times per minute.
2. Tongue-tied: Cows do not bite grass, instead they curl their tongue around clumps of grass, which they pull and tear it into their mouths.
3. Only up from here: You could lead a cow up a set of stairs, but not down the stairs since their knees don’t bend properly in that direction.
4. In the air: A cow’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours. They can pick up scents from up to 6 miles away!
5. I hear you! Cows have a heightened sense of sound; they can hear lower and higher frequencies better than humans.
6. Best friends: Cows are social animals; they’ll form special bonds with some fellow herd members and also avoid others.
7. Bottoms up! The average milk cow drinks 30 to 50 gallons of water each day. That’s the equivalent of drinking one whole bathtub full of water.
8. Say cheese! If cows smiled for the camera, they’d show off their 32 teeth, the same number as human adults.
9. No spitting, please. A dairy cow can produce 125 pounds of saliva a day!
10. Peek-a-cow: Cows have almost total 360-degree vision, but have trouble seeing from head on. If you approach them from the front, they might cock their head a bit to see you better.
Want to learn more about dairy cows? Click here to learn how the milk from different breeds can affect the taste & color of cheese!