Cows and Kids

Cows are a major food source for millions of people around the world, providing us with both meat and dairy products.  My girls recognized the cow on our milk jugs at an early age and enjoyed making various versions of the famous “Mooooo”.  However, there is a lot more to learn about both beef and dairy cattle.  

Top five cattle questions from kids (some from my own kids – I’m not telling which ones!):

1.       What do cows eat?

Cows eat plants.  Cows can eat grass, like the lawn, or special mixes of grass that are sometimes called hay.  Farmers cut grass in the summer and turn it into hay bales to save for winter time when no grass is growing.  Cows enjoy grains, like oats, for a treat. Cows also need minerals and vitamins in their diet, just like people.

2.       Do cows really have lots of stomachs?

Cows have one stomach, but it has four different compartments. Each compartment focuses on a different job.  The second stomach compartment is where cows make cud (food + saliva) and then they burp that cud up to chew it some more.  The fourth stomach compartment is most like a human stomach

3.       Do beef cows make milk?

Yes, all cows make milk for their calves.  However, dairy cows are designed to continue producing lots of milk for longer periods of time, while beef cows are not.  Beef cows still make lots of great milk to feed their own calf.

4.       Why do cows wear earrings?

Cows wear ear tags (or sometimes brisket tags – on their neck) to help their farmers keep track of them, because each cow is unique.  Farmers keep records of everything special or different about each cow, so each one gets its own number, letter or name on a tag.  For instance, farmers keep track of year of birth, farm of birth, health records, notes about their calves or anything else that happens in the life of each animal.

5.       What is the difference between our milk (2%) and your milk (skim)?

After the cows give us the milk it goes through a process to ensure that it is safe to drink.  Part of this process involves separating the cream (the richer part) from the milk.  Different people like different tastes of milk, or their bodies need different amounts of milk fat.

BONUS: How come in that pasture there are so many cows and only one bull?  Ask your auntie! 😊