Dairy cows are incredible animals. They can turn grass and grains into milk! Heifers are female dairy cattle. After two years, they give birth to their own calves. Once a heifer gives birth, it is called a cow. All female dairy cows must have a calf to produce milk. The gestation (pregnancy) period for cows is nine months. Newborn calves weigh about 80-100 pounds. Male dairy cattle are called bulls and do not produce milk.
Because dairy cattle have multiple compartments in their stomach, they are classified as ruminant animals. Ruminant animals first chew their food to soften it, swallow it and then return it to their mouth for continued chewing. This is called chewing the cud. After chewing the cud, it is swallowed a second time, broken down further and digested. Cows will spend up to eight hours a day chewing their cud.
Milk provides your body with calcium, which is needed for healthy bones and teeth. Calcium also helps our muscles and nerves work properly and helps blood to clot. Milk products provide us with carbohydrates, protein and Vitamin D. You should have three servings of nonfat or low fat milk and milk products each day. One serving of dairy is equal to 1 cup of milk, yogurt or ice cream and 1-2 ounces of cheese.
Ayrshires typically have red and white markings, although the red can range from a shade of orange to a dark brown.
Brown Swiss is a breed of dairy cattle that produces the second largest quantity of milk per annum, over 9,000 kg (20,000 lb).
Guernsey is orange/red and white in color. They are particularly renowned for the rich flavor of their milk, as well as their hardiness and docile disposition.
Holstein is a breed of cattle known today as the world's highest-production dairy animals. They’re the black and white cows you normally associate with dairy production.
Jersey cattle are a small breed of dairy cattle. Originally bred in the Channel Island of Jersey, the breed is popular for the high butterfat content of its milk.
Milking Shorthorn a breed of dairy cattle that originated in Great Britain. It developed from the Shorthorn, which itself came from County Durham, Northumberland and Yorkshire in northeastern England.
To learn more about each breed and to see a complete list of all the different breeds of dairy cattle visit: www.thedairysite.com/breeds/dairy.