10 Fun Facts About Dairy Cows

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!

Comments (27)

Donna | November 19, 2019 | 4:51pm

Very cool! Love the noses!

Becky Pinette | November 19, 2019 | 6:55pm

Very interesting !

Wendy Keeney | November 19, 2019 | 9:41pm

These are very interesting facts. I really like learning more things about the farms and how the cows are treated. I also love the fact that they get grass instead of corn which they do not digest.

Norman Diebold | November 21, 2019 | 4:33pm

This is a love story about a cow and I. In 2007 my family visited the Billings Farm, and I met Radish, a gorgeous Jersey lady in the pasture when she ambled up to the fence opposite me. I told her how beautiful she was, and she stayed with me at the fence for awhile. Several years later, we revisited the Farm, I searched for Radish, and found her in the milking barn. When I called her name and to my delight she turned around, and greeted me!

    Rose Gomez | November 22, 2019 | 7:58am

    Wow! That is such a sweet story. Thank you for sharing and so happy you got to see Radish again! ~Rose

      Donna G | November 23, 2019 | 6:32am

      How awesome! It’s amazing how animals relate to humans, even after not seeing them for a period of time!

Rhonda | November 21, 2019 | 8:52pm

These cows are beautiful. Thanks for the interesting facts.

Elana Beth | December 30, 2019 | 11:15am

I’m wondering what happens to the cows when they no longer produce milk? Sorry, I’ve heard too many horror stories…also wondering do the calves stay with the mother after birth and are any of them taken away for meat? I’d really love to know.

    Rose Gomez | January 02, 2020 | 2:41pm

    Hi Elana,
    Cows are milked for anywhere between 5 to 8 years. Cows are often 8 to 10 years old before they drop in milk production enough the farmer cannot continue to feed them without getting enough milk to cover costs, and it is at that time that many are sold for beef. Calves are kept with their mothers for 12 to 48 hours. All farms in our cooperative have a slightly different routine, but generally cows are grouped by age, so the youngest calves are in a different area of the barn than the full-grown milking herd. Some farms have outdoor pasture areas where younger and older cows may graze together in the summer, but very young calves are separated from the larger cows to keep them safe until they are older. Cabot and our parent, Agri-Mark, go to great lengths to ensure the safety, health, and happiness of our cattle. All Cabot farms are enrolled in a program called FARM, Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (http://www.nationaldairyfarm.com/), whose goal is to demonstrate and verify that milk producers are committed to the highest standards in animal care.

Marilyn Kartje | January 27, 2020 | 1:54pm

I enjoyed this site as it brought back memories of my summers with my Gramma on her Dairy Farm in Walled Lake MIchigan.

Lucky Minscer | February 16, 2021 | 5:15pm

Love the last pic

rani2014 | April 02, 2021 | 3:21pm

I particularly like the one give the hug.

Glen Pertz | April 02, 2021 | 3:27pm

HAVE you heard of cow peace. If cow is annoyed by someone rather than get aggressive the cow will move away. We as humans could learn something about not escalating issues that do not matter.

Wendy Douglass | April 02, 2021 | 3:30pm

I heard today about adding small amount of seaweed to a cows diet dramatically decreases methane production. Would that effect milk taste or production? Would it reduce the chance of a twisted stomach… something I remember from my childhood my uncle’s blamed on gas in the cows stomach.

Susan Smith | April 02, 2021 | 3:39pm

Ah. So de-liciously sweet.
Years ago, when my first born daughter was only about 4 or 5, we frequented a small working farm in our rural north fork where we purchased milk from their cows on a regular basis. They also had chickens,, a couple of pigs, and various cats & dogs. On one such visit as we were leaving, my husband asked her if she would like to get a dog. “No thank you. Tell you the truth, I’d really rather a cow.”

Judith Burton-Carr | April 02, 2021 | 4:25pm

I was wondering….Why do the cows have ear tags with numbers????

    Cabot Creamery | April 05, 2021 | 2:19pm

    Farmers put tags in both ears so that the cow is easily identifiable from all directions. Often there is a chip on each cow’s ear tag which farmers can use to track important information about each cow, such as their diet, milk production, age, and other information related to their health. Having this information allows them to better provide each cow with more individualized care.

Fran M | April 02, 2021 | 8:06pm

Interesting! Didn’t know all of this!

LINDA M DELUCA | April 03, 2021 | 9:14am

Enjoyed your light hearted facts about cows, but there are some questions I have that perhaps others want to know but are afraid to ask.
Are milking cows purposely made PREGNANT to produce milk? Is it true that veal is baby MALE COWS? What happens to aging cows when they no longer can become pregnant (?) or product milk? Do they become ‘burgers’ at the auction block?
It would be nice to know what IS the true life span of a typical miling cow on the farm.

    Cabot Creamery | April 09, 2021 | 2:03pm

    Thanks for asking, Linda. Similar to humans, cows need to be pregnant and give birth for milk production and release to occur. Male cows are not typically raised as dairy animals as they do not provide milk. They are often sold to other farmers or remain on farm to be raised for beef. Cows are often 8 to 10 years old before they drop in milk production enough the farmer cannot continue to feed them without getting enough milk to cover costs, and it is at that time that many are sold for beef. Our farms are enrolled in a program called F.A.R.M., Farmers Assuring Responsible Management http://www.nationaldairyfarm.com/ whose goal is to demonstrate and verify that our farmers are committed to animal care. The F.A.R.M. Program covers a multitude of animal care practices. ~Rose

victor magazian | April 03, 2021 | 10:00am

Awesome pictures. Made my day. Happy Easter.

michele | April 03, 2021 | 1:24pm

Do cows ever get cold??

    Cabot Creamery | April 05, 2021 | 2:01pm

    Cows have a completely different physiology than we do. A cow’s normal body temperature can range between 100° to 102° they are ruminants so they ferment their feed to digest it which also creates a certain amount of heat. A cow feels most comfortable around 50° f where we would feel comfortable around 75° f. They are also amazing adapters as the temperature gets cooler they grow a thick mat of hair which also helps to control their body temperature at 30° f or colder they are still very comfortable. In order to be equipped like a cow you’d have to go out in a full set of long underwear ski pants and a jacket and boots gloves and a hat. As long as a cow has plenty of feed fresh water and a place to get out of the wind and rain they are very comfortable.

Carolyn | April 04, 2021 | 1:37pm

We took our 10 yr old grandson to a working farm last week on his spring break. He said he loved it more than the zoo, about which we’ve always had our share of mixed feelings. He was fascinated with their size, personalities and interaction. He read about each animal; their names, DOB, characteristics, and kept commenting on how playful they were. Read about the variety of standard, corrective and performance horseshoes featured on a board. He pointed to a nest with eggs in the chicken coop with that look of delight, discovery and innocence. I’m glad he has an appreciation for all animals. Farm animals might become his favorite. Especially cows. Pigs. Goats. Horses. Sheep. Ducks. Chickens…
I truly enjoy reading your articles and recipes. We love Cabot products and often request our stores to carry additional items. Thanks for all you do.

Scott Jordan | April 05, 2021 | 10:06pm

Thanks for the great lovable cow pictures and the great info about them. How could you not love cows?

www.youranimalinfo.com | July 30, 2021 | 12:05am

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craftythinking | August 09, 2021 | 8:39am

This blog is definitely helpful and informative. Great blog by the way and thanks for sharing these!
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