Curious About Cows: Q & A
Jul 31, 2023 (Westby, WI)
Have you ever seen a dairy cow fast asleep? You’ve probably just seen them relaxing in the pasture while they chew their cud– that’s because they only sleep for about four hours a day. Let’s chat with Westby Creamery farmer-owner and FARM Program Evaluator Gail Klinkner about some other fun facts you may not know about the dairy cow.
Q: What do cows eat?
A: Westby Creamery cows have a very specialized diet that consists of various forages, including: hay silage, high moisture fermented grasses, dry hay, corn silage (fermented chopped corn), ground corn and additional protein sources such as soybeans. They’re also provided with minerals needed to balance this diet. Additionally, they have access to fresh grass and the ability to graze pastures.
Q: How much does the average cow weigh?
A: A dairy cow’s weight varies by breed. A mature Holstein cow (the black and white ones) may weigh 1,500 to 1,800 pounds, while a Jersey cow (small brown ones) may weigh 1,100 to 1,400 pounds.
Q: What are some of the most common dairy breads?
A: The most common dairy breeds here at Westby are Holstein, Jersey and a cross of the two. We also have Guernsey’s, Ayrshires, Milking Shorthorns, Brown Swiss, Fleckvieh and Norwegian Reds. While each breed has its own production benefits, farmer preference is really the driving factor for the breed(s) that each individual dairy has.
Q: How much water does a cow drink a day?
A: On average, a cow will consume approximately 30 to 40 gallons of water per day, which equates to a bathtub of water every day!
Q: How much do cows eat a day?
A: Most cows will consume over 100 pounds of feed per day. The amount of feed consumed will vary greatly based on the moisture content of the feed provided or the grass that is grazed.
Q: How many hours a day do cows sleep?
A: While cows may lay down up to 12 hours per day, they only sleep about four hours per day! And most of that four hours is just a string of small naps.
Q: How long do cows live?
A: Dairy cows can live well into their teen years.