June has been considered “Dairy Month” in the U.S. since 1937. So in honor of Dairy Month here are a few fun facts about dairy cattle that you may not know.
You’ve seen the picture of an old farmer sitting on a stool milking a cow into a
bucket. Did you know that there are roughly 350 “squirts” in a gallon of milk?
Some lactating cows can milk up to over 100 pounds of milk per day with the
national average being a little closer to 50-60 pounds. (or 120, 8 oz glasses of
milk) With a gallon weighing 8.3 pounds and with 350 squirts per gallon… you
can imagine how tired your hands might get milking a cow by hand.
Before automated milking systems were invented in 1894, farmers could only
milk about 6 cows per hour. Now with modern technology, on average it only
takes about 5 minutes to milk a cow, which allows for cows to be milked 2-3 times per day. 2-3 times a day may seem as if it would be harder on a cow to be milked more often but it is in fact much better for a cow. As a woman would nurse their child multiple times a day, a nursing cow should also be milked multiple times a day.
To maintain milking at this rate means that a cow will have to eat quite a large amount of feed to keep up with this kind of production. On average a high producing lactating cow can easily eat around 100 pounds of feed per day, and spend 6 hours per day doing so (using 32 teeth which are all located on the bottom jaw) You can imagine eating 100 pounds of feed may also make you a bit thirsty, so to wash it all down a cow can drink up to about 30 gallons (249 pounds) per day.
Get out and support your local dairy farmers this June, and the beautiful animals that have helped feed our families for centuries!