Dairy cows: The Olympians of Oregon Milk
Dairy cows as Olympians? You’ve probably never thought of dairy cows as athletes, but there are many similarities.
Dairy cows eat like champions every day. Their bodies work hard to provide nutritious, high-quality milk. Like Olympians who train hard every day, cows they need to fuel themselves with healthy food choices.
Their personal chefs (aka Oregon dairy farmers) provide nutritious and delicious meals for them by working with animal nutritionists to create balanced meals that contain the right amount of protein, energy, fiber, vitamins and minerals for the cow to maintain optimum health.
A balanced meal for cows contains:
- Corn Silage: the entire corn plant that is chopped and fermented
- Haylage: grass that is chopped and fermented
- Hay: a dried grass or legume, often cut and baled
- Cotton Seed: a by-product of cotton production that is left after the soft cotton is harvested for clothing
- Distillers Grain: a by-product that is a dried mash produced after the sugar and starch are used in ethanol and fermented beverage production
- Soybean Meal: a by-product of soybean oil production, sometimes pelleted for animal feed use
Some of these foods would have been sent to the landfill if cows didn’t eat them.
In fact, 75% of a dairy cow’s diet contains items humans can’t eat.
Cows bodies expend a lot of calories creating milk, so they don’t need to go out for a run or long walk like we do. Cows do need rest though, so they lie down about 12-14 hours a day!
Farmers use a version of Fitbit to track how active cows are to ensure they stay healthy and fit. It usually goes on the cow’s ear (as in the photo above) or around their neck or ankle. Dairy farmers can also use a type of technology to measure the cows’ food intake. If the cow isn’t eating the proper nutrients, the farmer is flagged to take the cow’s temperature and do an overall checkup.
Just like elite athletes, cows only receive treatment for specific illnesses.
Specifically, antibiotics are only used if a cow has a diagnosed infection and other treatments have not worked. The milk produced while the cow is receiving antibiotics is discarded. And just like athletes, a cow’s milk is tested for presence of drugs and other substances that should not be present! The milk is prevented from going into the milk supply and cannot be bottled for consumption.
Holstein (left) and Jersey (right) cows are the most common dairy cows in Oregon and produce a lot of milk. And they do this without being treated with hormones. Oregon dairy farmers care for their animals every day of the year. They are so good at taking care of their mooing athletes that the cows naturally produce our favorite 13 essential nutrients in a powerhouse drink: MILK!
Cow’s milk is safe and nutritious no matter what fat content level you prefer to enjoy as an athlete or to serve your family.
So, the next time you go to the grocery store, visit the dairy cooler! And remember the elite athletic team across the state of Oregon that provide nutritious dairy foods for you naturally each day!