10 Fun Facts About Dairy Cows

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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 (10)

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.

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