Today is “Ask a Stupid Question Day”. This day was originally designed to encourage school children to ask more questions and NOT be afraid of asking a “stupid” question.
Since there is no such thing as a stupid question, here are a few questions we get about dairy:
1. Do brown cows make chocolate milk?
You laugh, but this is a thing. No, all cows make white milk. I’ve even heard of someone being asked, in all seriousness, which of his cows gave soda pop. Regardless of the color of the cow, she will give white milk. The chocolate (or any other flavoring) is added at the bottling facility. Milk that will be flavored is the exact same milk that will be sold as white milk. And–the super good news–is that since flavored milk has all the same nutrients as regular milk, it’s a tasty drink we can all feel good about.
2. Do the boy cows give milk?
Only female cattle (or any female mammal, for the matter) give milk. The males don’t. A “cow” actually means a female–males are called bulls or steers. A cow only gives milk once she has given birth to a baby calf.
3. Why is the cow so skinny?
Here’s a big one–dairy cows do tend to look “skinny” to a casual observer. A healthy dairy cow will have visible hip bones–that’s just the way dairy cows are built. You can see a person’s knees or elbows (and often hipbones as well!) but being able to see those bones doesn’t automatically mean the person is emaciated. Dairy cows are putting all the excess food energy into making milk–not into making fat on their bodies. Beef cattle put their excess food energy into making muscle and fat, so they will definitely look more, well, beefy.
4. The ones with horns are boys, right?
Nope. Many breeds of cattle, male and female, are born with horns. Horns are very dangerous to other cows in the herd (cows can injury each other very badly with their horns) and also extremely dangerous to the humans who are caring for those cows. Dairy farmers usually remove horn buds before the horns even develop on a young calf to minimize the stress on the animal and to make life a little bit safer for other cows and people.
Do you have a question about dairy farming? Always ask a farmer–they’re the experts! If you have a burning question, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.