June is National Dairy Month, a month to celebrate all things dairy, from dairy cows and dairy farmers to delicious dairy products. As you plan your visits to local dairy farms and special dairy events, take a moment to learn some cool cow facts you should know this June.
Cows have busy days, but they aren’t spent in the milking parlor!
Cows spend 30 minutes drinking, 3-5 hours eating and 12-14 hours resting each day. Meanwhile, cows visit the milking parlor two or three times a day for less than 10 minutes of milking.
Cows chew on average about 50 times a minute.
Between meals and chewing their cud, cows spend a good part of their day chewing. This is due to their four-chambered stomach. The four chambers are the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum. When cows eat, the food spends hours in a cycle of being chewed, digested, and chewed again as it moves between the chambers. The rumen, the largest part of the cow’s stomach, begins the digestion process, breaking down the food and cellulose, which humans can’t break down. Food then moves to the reticulum and the omasum to be further digested. The last chamber, the abomasum, completes the digestion process and releases essential nutrients. Between each step, cows are quietly chewing cud to break down the foods that other animals like humans cannot.
Dairy cows can produce 125 pounds of saliva a day.
Does everything relate to the rumen? Maybe! Yes, this high saliva production is also because of their unique stomach. Saliva helps the rumen begin breaking down their meals. With cows eating about 100 pounds of food per day, it makes sense that they need so much saliva!
A cow’s average body temperature is 101.5°F.
Because cows have thick skin and hair providing natural insulation, cows prefer temperatures between 40 and 65 degrees. Cows stay in insulated barns in colder weather, but cool spring days are the ideal temperature for time spent outdoors.
Cows regulate their body temperature through their breath.
While cows do sweat, it is not the most effective way for them to control their body temperature. Another method is to pant. Pushing out warm air and taking in cooler air helps regulate their temperature. But farmers don’t leave all the cooling efforts to the cows. To keep cows comfortable and cool in warmer weather, dairy farmers install systems like misters, fans, and coverings for shade. Farmers also make sure there is plenty of clean water available.