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  • At first glance, cows might seem to be simple animals, but they’re not! Cows are fascinating animals. For instance did you know that cows can smell something up to 6 miles away, or that cows can produce 125 lbs. of saliva in one day. Here’s a list of interesting facts:

    1. Cows are social animals, and they naturally form large herds. And like people, they will make friends and bond to some herd members, while avoiding others
    2. Cows are red-green colorblind. In a bullfight, its the waving of the cape that attracts the bull not the red color
    3. A cow’s heart beats between 60 and 70 beats per minute
    4. Cows can hear lower and higher frequencies better than humans.
    5. An average dairy cow weighs about 1,200 pounds.
    6. A cows normal body temperature is 101.5°F.
    7. The average cow chews at least 50 times per minute.
    8. The typical cow stands up and sits down about 14 times a day.
    9. An average cow has more than 40,000 jaw movements in a day.
    10. Cows actually do not bite grass; instead they curl their tongue around it.
    11. Cows have almost total 360-degree panoramic vision.
    12. Cows have a single stomach, but four different digestive compartments.
    13. Cows are pregnant for 9 months just like people
    14. A dairy cow can produce 125 lbs. of saliva a day
    15. Cows spend 8 hours per day eating, 8 hours chewing her cud (regurgitated, partially digested food), and 8 hours sleeping
    16. You can lead a cow upstairs, but not downstairs. Cows knees can’t bend properly to walk downstairs.
    17. Cows can’t vomit
    18. The average cow drinks 30 to 50 gallons of water each day
    19. The average cow produces 70 lbs. of milk. That’s 8 gallons per day!
    20. Cows only have teeth on the bottom
    21. Cows have a great sense of smell. They can smell something up to 6 miles away
    22. Dairy cows are economic job creating machines! 1 dairy cow creates 4 full time jobs in the local community
    23. A Holstein’s spots are like a fingerprint. No two cows have exactly the same pattern of black and white spots. They are all different
    24. The average cow will eat about 100 lbs. of feed per day
  • Cows mature at a different pace than humans do. It’s like they’re living on a different timeline- you know, the whole dog years concept. An easy way to extrapolate the cows’ age in human years would be to look at when a cow reaches puberty. It takes people about 12 years to reach puberty, while it only takes a cow 1 year to reach puberty. This timeline puts things into better context:

    Living on different timelines – Cow years are different from people years

    When a cow reaches seven or eight she definitely begins showing signs of aging. Old age is a cruel friend affecting all species.

    How many Years does the average Cow live?

    The average Dairy cow will live 5 to 7 years. This number depends on different factors:

    Some factors that affect a cows age:

    • Genetics – Some cows have great genes and longevity runs in their family
    • Health – Did the cow have a major health problem when growing up, this will affect her in her later years.
    • Nutrition – Similar to people, food plays a large role in determining health and quality of life. Quality nutrition is a must
    • Environment – All external factors for a cow’s life generally play a role in determining longevity, stress, how she was handled, etc.
    • Weather – Extreme weather can be hard on cows, minimizing the severity of the elements is key to helping cows live longer.
    • Breed – The breed of cow plays a role in determining how long a cow will live. Some breeds are stronger and more predisposed to aging more gracefully.

    The Oldest Cow

    Interestingly, the oldest known cow was Big Bertha who lived to be 48 years old living from 1945-1993. She also held the record for most babies, having 39 calves.

    What was the secret to Big Bertha’s longevity? Her owner fed her whiskey to steady her nerves when she was around people- maybe it helped to reduce her stress levels.

    Her story is a fascinating example of bovine achievement. To say that most cows can accomplish living that long would be a mistake though, Big Bertha was an exception rather than the rule, an outlier.

    The average age of cows would be represented on a bell curve

    Cows can live 18-20 years or even 48 years, but it’s not normal or average. People can live to 120 but it’s not the norm.

    The average age of cows can be depicted in a bell curve format. Outliers do not predict the average but are represented on the extremities of the curve.

    Knowing the maximum age cows can live is fascinating, it represents possibilities.

    Breeding Healthier Cows

    Longevity in dairy cows has actually improved tremendously in the past 20 years. Instead of breeding for only milk production, dairy farmers are focused on breeding healthier, longer lasting cows by selecting males with better health and longevity traits. Genes really do make a difference in how long a cow will live.

    Genomics, (genetic testing) is helping to bring positive change to cows’ lives.

    With genomic testing, we know more about a cow’s DNA than any time in history. As more and more cows are tested, we can know which cows have the best genes for longevity- which cows will live longer. In knowing which cows have a predisposition for longevity, breeders can mate cows to bulls with good genes to help breed cows more cows can have these good traits. It is helping to speed genetic progress which helps all dairy cows as a whole.

    A lot of genetic progress has been made to help improve a cow’s longevity and quality of life.

    Before genetic testing, a cow’s traits used to be determined by visual appearance and data collection on mothers and daughters (which took years to get accurate data). Now a cow’s genetic traits can be determined by genomic testing which gives trait data including longevity and health. Accurate data in a short time.


    (Left) Compare the cow from 1935 to the modern-day cow (Right), you can see the amount of genetic progress.

    The modern cow, on the right, is stronger and more balanced which contributes to a longer life. The modern cow has a wider chest, is deeper in heart girth, stronger in her backbone, walks on a more correct set of feet and legs and is much stronger in her udder attachments. All these physical traits play a role in a cow’s longevity and quality of life

    The Natural Life of a Cow

    But what would the cow’s age be if she lived her life naturally in the wild? Compared to cows at the farm, a cow living in the wild would not necessarily be happier or live longer.

    A good example would be deer- it is hard to measure what a cows age would be in the wild but we can assume shorter. Deer, for example, living wild and free have shorter lives:

    “The life span of a whitetail deer can be from 6 to 14 years in captivity.In the wild, the majority of deer don’t make it to that age because of disease, hunting and automobile collisions. The average life span for wild whitetail deer is 4½ years (Lopez et al 2003).Males have an average life span of 2.9 years and females have an average life span of 6½ years (Lopez et al 2003).”

    Life in the wild is not easy. Elements- wind, rain, snow, dry weather- food availability, and predators are just some of the major things animals in the wild have to deal with.

    Cows wouldn’t have easier lives in the wild – most likely they would be more stressed- and their lifespan would not necessarily be longer than a cow’s life on a farm.

  • New research is showing that milk fat actually can have a positive effect on many of the prevalent health diseases Americans are dealing with today such as atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic diseases. Milk fat is also showing positive benefits in the areas of gut health, cognitive and mental development, immune system health, and even proving to reduce caner.

    Not all fat is created equal, and there is a lot of evidence that dairy fat can make you healthier.

    1-Fatty Acids in Milk can make your gut healthier – Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial, Antiviral, and Antifungal properties

    It shouldn’t be surprising because milk fat is one of nature’s most complex forms of fat. Milk fat has been found to have over 400 different kinds of fats and fatty acids. (Source) Many of the fatty acids in milk fat have been shown to possess antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, even anti-cancer properties which help to protect your gut from negative influences:

    • Butyric Acid– Been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, help your gut lining healthy and sealed, therapeutic for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohns disease
    • Caproic Acid– SCFA – like butryric acid, anti-inflammatory
    • Oleic acid– the same fat that is in olive oil with proven anti-cancer properties. Is associated with anti-cancer activities, reduction of plasmatic CHOL, improvement of the autoimmune system and reduction of the risk of inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases
    • Capric Acid – “Capric acid has strong antiviral and antimicrobial properties. Capric acid is converted into monocaprin in the body, where it can help combat viruses, bacteria and the yeast Candida albicans.”
    • Caprylic Acid – According to the Cadida Diet, “kills Candida cells, as well as restoring your stomach acidity to its normal levels.” (Source) Allows your body to become more alkaline.
    • Lauric Acid – Your body converts lauric acid to monolaurin, a compound that has antiviral, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal and antifungal properties disrupting the lipid membranes in organisms like fungus, bacteria and viruses, thus destroying them.
    • CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) –Has been shown to be anti-cancer and help with weight loss.
    • Linolenic Acid – regulates inflammation, a component of cell membranes, and is converted to the longer chain omega-3 fatty acids or DHA. The omega-3 fatty acids have numerous health benefits
    • Trans vaccenic acid (TVA) TVA is the main trans octadecenoic FA in milk fat – produced by the rumen microbes, anticarcinogenic
    • Phospholipids and sphingolipids from milk globule membrane are potential anticarcinogenic agents

    Fatty acids in Milk help you gut health

    Candida Albicans is a gut problem that many people suffer from. It is a chronic yeast overgrowth in your gut causing a number of health problems. It generally happens when people eat too much sugar. Interestingly, capric and caprylic acid in milkfat have been shown to have antifungal properties that would help keep the fungus in check. Dr. Axe sells Caprilic Acid pills but how many people know they just need to eat more butter.

    When you consider the incidence of gut health problems in America, you can see that we need more of these types of compounds in our diet than ever before. Short-chain fatty acids like butyric acid (the fatty acid that butter is named for) have been shown to improve your gut lining and be therapeutic for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

    2-Milk Fat Globule Membrane (MFGM) can make you smarter

    The research is showing that it’s not just the fatty acids; the very membrane that encases the milk fat is even more interesting and equally important for good health. The Milk Fat Globule Membrane, MFGM, is composed of unique bioactive components like phospholipids and glycoproteins and is a unique structure only found in milk.

    One recent research study compared infant formula with MFGM and without. Infant formula is usually made with vegetable oils and not dairy fat. Unsurprisingly, the children growing up on the formula with the MFGM were more neuro-developmentally advanced than the ones who grew up on regular infant formula. (Source)

    A separate study found that piglets fed formula with MFGM were also more developed cognitively than piglets fed traditional formula without MFGM. The piglets that had more MFGM in their diet were more neurodevelopmentally advanced than piglets without the MFGM in their diet with differences in gray and white matter concentrations in their brains. The piglets also had healthier guts leading the researchers pointing to a healthier gut being critical to cognitive development. MFGM is being found to play a big role in the health of our brain and gut. (Source)

    One thing is for sure, milk fat can help you gut and that can make your thinking power and cognitive abilities better.

    You can read more about this here http://milkgenomics.org/article/lactoferrin-and-milk-fat-globule-membrane-improve-gut-and-brain-development-in-piglets/

    The MFGM layer that surrounds the fat in milk is full of bioactive compounds that are being shown to have a positive effect on your body.

    3-Anti-pathogenic potential of Sphingolipids

    Interestingly enough, a component of the MFGM called Sphingolipids has been shown to be effective at protecting the gut from bacterial and pathogenic invasions. As an antibacterial agent, sphingolipids have been shown to increase resistance toward intestinal pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella enteritidis, Campylobacter jejuni, and Listeria monocytogenes. Children fed whole milk were 5x less likely to develop gastrointestinal illness than those fed skim milk. Rats were found to have more resistance to colonization of these negative pathogens in their guts when they were fed more milk fat in their diet. (Source)

    Sphingolipids have also been found to be important to cognitive development being a fundamental component of the central nervous system and neuron components. Spingolipids have been also shown to be beneficial in helping against heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol, have positive effects on metabolic syndrome, help with insulin resistance, be protective against UV radiation, and even possess anti-proliferative and preventive properties against cancer. (Source)

    Health Benefits associated with Spingolipids found in dairy (Source)

    Milk Fat is health fat

    Milk fat is part of a healthy diet and it really does make sense. The function of milk in life is to pass on nutrients in a highly absorbable form. We are still discovering the mechanisms, but the function proves the premise.

    With people are eating less dairy products, it is hard to blame milk fat for society’s health woes. In 1909, Americans consumed 14.3 pounds of butter per person per year; 2004 butter consumption was only at 3.7 pounds per person per year. If milk fat was bad for you, Americans should be healthier than ever before, but that has not been the case with skyrocketing incidence of heart disease, cancer, and obesity.

    It turns out the fatty acids in milk fat, milk fat globule membrane, sphingolipids, and array of other bioactive components in milk fat do have a positive effects on our health and may be just the very thing our bodies need. It is good news- Dairy fat can do a body good.

  • So does milk come from pregnant cows? I am a dairy farmer and have the data from our farm so decided to take a crack at this urban legend. On farms these days, we record all the cow’s health records on a computer database. I’m not always out wielding my pitchfork, but more often than not troubleshooting technology…

    I used our database to analyze the percentage of our herd’s status of pregnant/ not pregnant. I also broke down the data of the cows that were pregnant by trimesters.

    What most people unfamiliar with dairy farming don’t understand is that the further into a pregnancy a cow goes the less milk she will produce. A cow will give the highest volume of milk when she is open.

    The cows that could have the highest amount of hormones in their milk would be in their last trimester. The common practice on farms is to dry up the cow (since she is giving little milk by that time) and give her a vacation for the last two months of her pregnancy. So cows are only milked 7 months of their pregnancy- until day 217 of her pregnancy out of 280 days.

    A cow’s blood estrogen levels during pregnancy doesn’t significantly increase until the 3rd trimester when she is dry

    I broke the data down by trimester because a cow’s hormone level goes up slowly over the pregnancy. Her hormones are highest in the last trimester- but cows are usually dry at that time.

    The data showed that about 89% of the milk came from cows that were not pregnant or in their first trimester. Only 9% of the milk came from cows in their 2nd trimester and only 2% of the milk came from cows in their 3rd trimester because they are only milked for 1 more month in that trimester before they are dried and sent on vacation. The cows in the later periods of their pregnancy gave less milk and are the smallest portion of the total milking herd.

    About 90% of the milk comes from cows that are not pregnant or in an early pregnancy. The remaining amount does not contribute to a significant increase in hormones in milk. Milk has been tested to show the average amount of estrogen.

    Here is the picture- If you have 14,000 gallons of milk (2 truckloads), here is how it’s divided by Cows in each category. (the % is the % of the milk in the 14,000 gallons)

    The volume of milk produced by cows in the respective category on our farm. About 90% is from cows not pregnant or in early pregnancy.


    Maybe this is a better visual- It is easy to see why milk wouldn’t have a lot of estrogen in it.

    The other thing to consider is that just because a cows blood estrogen goes up during pregnancy, doesn’t mean that it necessarily correlates to the amount of estrogen in the milk.

    The amount of estrogen in milk

    People get more estrogen from vegetables like cabbage (at 2,000 ng) than they do from meat and dairy products.

    Most people on this topic want other people to drink less milk- it’s a gross-out argument.

    The hormones that you eat are broken down by your body. You don’t absorb them like a dangerous virus. And your body regulates hormone production, just like it regulates oxygen in your body. Your body isn’t brainless. (sorry a terrible joke).

    It does become imbalanced when you eat too much estrogen- like taking steroids. But steroid users know that taking steroids orally is the most ineffective way to take them.

    Why are people worried about milk’s 2ng/serving when there is 20,000-50,000ng in a birth control pill. Then you look at how much estrogen is in humans naturally – 130,000ng in Males/ 500,000ng is a Female. 2ng in a cup of milk will not influence your body in a significant way, especially when it has to go through digestion first.

    The logic of the milk/ hormone myth

    When you stop to think about it rationally and look at facts and the big picture, it’s really hard to believe that some people believe this myth. Yes, milk comes from female cows, but most things in nature have a sex. Fruits, for example, are plant OVERIES.

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