Dairy Cows: The Hardest Workers In the Industry
I have been called the foster mother of the human race. I never take a holiday. My ancestors arrived in America in 1611, and each year I produce 30,000 glasses of the most delicious beverage you will ever taste. Quick: what am I?
If you guessed a cow, give yourself a pat on the back.
Dairy farming has come a long way since the first cow was introduced to North America in a Jamestown colony in the early seventeenth century. Back then, nearly every family had its own cow. They had to. Without refrigeration or the ability to transport milk long distances, a cow was a lifeline for these early settlers.
We still depend on dairy cows for so much. Raw milk can be separated into whole milk, skim, 1%, 2%, and cream. Cream can be processed into whipping cream, table cream, butter, and cheese.
Mmmm cheese! Think of all the delicious varieties of cheeses available like good old cheddar and mozzarella (what would pizza taste like without mozzarella?). Then there’s Stilton, Edam, and Gorgonzola. Or how about Brie or Camembert? Fondue wouldn’t be fondue without cheese – the list goes on.
A Day in the Life
Every morning around 6:30 a dairy cow trudges over to the milking parlor to be milked. Then they repeat the process around 2:00 in the afternoon and finally around 10 at night. In between, she returns to the barn where she can chew the cud (which she enjoys doing for up to eight hours a day), moo around the water trough, and rest up on her bed of straw.
Producing eight gallons of milk a day takes a lot of resting – up to twelve hours a day. The more rested a cow is, the better the quality of milk she produces.
Milk for the Market
Dairy farmers take their cows seriously. They know that in order for the raw milk to be the best quality it can be before being sent to the market, their cows must be in good health, well-rested, and fed a nutritionally balanced diet. In one day, a single cow eats over 20 pounds of hay, over 30 pounds of forage foods and grain, and four pounds of protein supplements, minerals and salt. Then they wash that all down with 45 gallons of water!
Without dairy cows there would be no ice cream, no milk shakes, and no need for milk haulers. These animals are taken for granted far too often. One dairy cow creates approximately four fulltime jobs in the local community. So the next time you drive past a field filled with these cows, please take a second to pay homage for what these remarkable animals do for our economy.