Posted on 10 January 2010 by joost
We have lots of flat land in .nl and most of it is unoccupied. So what is it good for? Well, plants and cows! We have so many cows here that we’ve become of the largest dairy exporters in the world.
The quitessential cow – the one in the photo below – is named after Friesland, one of Netherland’s most northern provinces. This breed was born here, then developed in the USA by Dutch farmers, and after a century or so returned to Netherlands. Friesland cows are the most productive cows in the world. They can produce up to 25 liters per day, which is about 6.5 gallons.
A big discussion in Netherlands right now is milk from cows that are outside, as opposed to cows who stay indoor all the time. Milk from “buitenkoeien” (ouside cows) is deemed more nutricious by some. As such, we now have a special brand of milk from outside cows. I am not so sure this milk is more nutricious, but who am I. In line with the outside-cow-movement is the organic movement. Like in many Western cultures, organic food is very modern. Our organic milk is certicified by an independent organisation, but overall organic milk is still a tiny part of all milk sold.
A name like Bettie 23 is a typical cow’s name. They are named after their mother: Bettie 1 will have been the first female cow the farmer has bought, their first daughter will have been Bettie 2, and so on. Even their grand children will all be named Bettie. This way, the farmer can keep track of the best-performing breeds. As you would expect, the male cows are sold when they are still young, because they do not produce milk.
After a milk cow has lived her useful life, she is sold to the butcher and turned into minced beef. As far as the environment goes, Dutch minced beef (from old milk cows) is a very sane choice. More so since our cows are not fed pulverized meat.
Fun cows facts
Do cows sleep standing up?
No, they don’t. They sleep lying down. But when a cow is lying down she might be digesting her food. Cows only really sleep deeply for half an hour per day. At other times she is just dozing and producing milk.
Do cows bite?
They only chew grass, so they don’t “bite” in the way you and I do. In fact they have no front teeth in their upper jaw. They only have big molars for grinding the grass, and do not use their teeth to fend off predators.
Do the yellow ear marks hurt?
No, not at all. Even setting them does not hurt, it’s just like an earring.
What does a cow weigh?
A regular milk-giving cow weighs about 650 kilograms. An adult bull can weig up to 1000 kg (a metric ton).