We only have Holstein cows on our farm at this time. When we were a smaller farm and were starting out, we had Brown Swiss but switched to Holsteins in 1974.
All breeds of dairy cows usually weigh over half a ton. Our Holsteins on average weigh around 1500 lbs.
A calf on our farm weighs around 100 lbs. at birth.
Males are called bulls. Females before having a calf are called heifers. Females after having their first calf are called 1st calf heifers. After their second calf they are called cows.
On average our cows live between 8 - 10 years.
They sleep between 12 - 14 hours per day.
Our milk producing cows eat roughly 170 lbs. of food a day. Their food is made up of a combination of alfalfa, corn silage, sorghum, brewers' grain and other nutrients and minerals. This helps keep the cows healthy and able to produce milk. We adjust our feed ration to produce high butterfat and protein in our milk.
We hire a nutritionist that takes samples of all the feed we produce on the farm. They then analyze the results and create a meal plan using what we grow along with other feed sources we use to create the perfect meal or TMR. TMR stand for Total Mixed Ration so every bite gets all the same ingredients. That helps their bodies be as efficient as possible at producing milk, new calves, and overall health.
Cows have 4 stomachs to help them digest their food and get all the nutrients out of it. Each of their stomachs has a name: rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. Their unique digestive system allows cows to convert plants humans are unable to eat into nutritious foods like milk.
Dairy cows when producing milk drink anywhere from 30 - 50 gallons of water each day. It's important to have good clean water accessible to them.
This depends on the weight, diet and breed of dairy cow. To give you an idea, for every cow that weighs 1000 lbs, they produce 82 lbs. of manure a day on average. That's a lot of poop!
We keep and raise all the heifer (female) calves. They grow up to become our dairy cows we milk. The bull (male) calves are sold at the auction after we raise them for a couple weeks.