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All About Dairy Cows

All About Dairy Cows

Cows are the most important part of the dairy farm and dairy farmers take great pride in caring for them.

"The friendly cow all red and white, I love with all my heart", Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson wrote - and he is not the first to be charmed by this friendly animal.  

Caring for dairy cows

Cows have been domesticated for thousands of years and play a vital part in providing food for people all over the world. For dairy farmers, cows are the most important part of the dairy farm. Well cared for cows benefit the farmer both emotionally and financially, as a happy cow is easier and more enjoyable to manage as well as being more productive.

Caring for cows means making sure they have access to nutritious feed, excellent healthcare and spacious pastures and barns. Dairy cows are social animals that live and graze in herds and they need exercise as well as rest.

 

The life cycle

Dairy cows usually have their first calf when they are two years old and just like us, their pregnancy lasts for nine months. After giving birth they spend three months resting before the cycle starts again. Want to find out more? Check out our 'moovie' about calving.

 

Dairy cow breeds

Nine out of 10 dairy cows in Britain have the black and white markings of the Holstein-Friesian breed, although you might also see other breeds such as brown Guernsey or Jersey cows. Breeding expert Marco Winters explains: "In Britain we really see a variety of breeds. This is because we have a lot of different systems in this country and we need breeds to suit those systems. In Scotland we would see a different animal to when we go to Cornwall, for example." Watch our video about breeding to hear more from Marco. Find out where cows sleep, what they eat and how they are milked.