The Udder Truth


How many cows can a farmer milk each hour?

Before milking machines were invented in 1894, farmers could only milk about 6 cows per hour. Now, it takes less than 5 minutes to milk a cow using milking machines. The more milking machines, the more cows can be milked each hour. For example, a 40-stall rotary milking system can milk 480 cows per hour.



How many tonnes of yoghurt was sold in Australia in 2013/14?

137,000 tonnes of yoghurt was sold in Australia in 2013/14 which is equivalent of two fully loaded Titanic's (52,000 tonnes each) and a Spirit of Tasmania (30,000 tonnes) 


How much custard did Australians consume in 2013-14?

Australians consumed 23,361 tonnes of custard in 2013/14, that’s more than twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower which weighs approximately 10,000 tonnes.


Is it true that the gestation period of a cow is similar to that of a human?

Yes, on average a cow or heifer's gestation or length of pregnancy is 285 days ling or approximately nine months. This is similar to the pregnancy period of a woman, which is between 260 -280 days. The actual gestation period of a cow can range from 270 days to 295 days, depending primarily on its breed, age, body condition, nutritional health and genetics.

Is sugar added to milk to make it taste sweet?

All milk contains natural sugar. Each milk company provides the list of ingredients on their labels and what is listed on the label is the 100% natural sugar found in milk as it comes from the cow - no sugar is added. This sugar is called lactose. 

Do we need to eat a lot of protein to build muscle?

According to the ABC, you need a certain amount of protein and milk is a rich source. A sedentary person needs to eat about 0.8g of protein per kg of body mass each day. Athletes and people who want to build muscle, need about double this (1.2 - 1.7g of protein/kg of body mass).

In the ABC article, Sarah Dacres-Mannings suggests among other protein rich foods two glasses of low-fat milk and a smoothies of low-fat milk, yoghurt and a banana snack after a workout.

For every litre of milk a cow produces, how much blood does she filter through her udder?

A cow filters 473 litres of blood for each litre of milk she produces. Many people consider milk to be white blood.


Out of every 10 people, how many eat and drink dairy products each day?

According to the ABS 2011-12, more than 8 out of 10 people consumed from the milk products and dishes group on the day prior to the survey, with foods in this group providing an average 11% of the population's energy intake.


Which of these is not a type of room for a cow?

  • Stanchion
  • Herringbone free stall
  • Box stall
  • Pipe stall
  • Tie stall



What's the most popular flavour of ice cream in Australia?



Who started the cheese industry in Australia?

Tasmania gave Australia its first cheese industry. In the 1820s, the Van Diemen's Land Company established Australia's first commercial cheese factory. Farmers from the NSW district of Illawarra began to send their cheese and butter to Sydney markets by sea, and as more ports opened, dairying extended all the way down to Bega. 


What is a typical Australian dairy herd?

Dairy cattle are specially bred to produce large amounts of milk. A dairy herd is made up of four different groups of cattle:

Cows - the largest group in the herd is cows - females, who give birth to calves and produce milk
Bulls - the fathers of the dairy herd with only a few needed on a dairy farm
Heifers - the second largest group in herd are young female cattle, the 'teenagers' of the herd who have not yet had a calf
Calves - the baby cattle with female calves growing into heifers and then milking cows and the male calves growing into bulls or being sold


Are cows native to Australia?

Dairy cows are not native to Australia. The first cows arrived in NSW in 1788 with Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet after several months at sea. They were sent to provide milk and meat to the new colony.

On arrival, the 2 bulls and 7 cows escaped into the bush and disappeared for 7 years. Despite the poor conditions and difficulties of those early years, when they were found by the Nepean River in 1795, the herd had grown to over 40. By the turn of the century, Australia had a population of 322 bulls and 712 cows.

From these small beginnings has grown a large and important industry - the dairy industry!


What dairy food snacks can parents include in their children's lunch box that is nutritionally sound?

Choice provided food ratings on a number of snack products using a health star rating system. Three received top ratings and two of three contain dairy.


How much saliva do dairy cows produce?

Dairy cows produce between 40L and 150L of saliva in a single day.

Saliva production is important to high producing dairy cows because it provides a means to buffer the rumen. Lactating dairy cows secrete 50L/day of saliva (or more); the amount produced depends almost entirely on the chewing (eating and ruminating) of fibre in the diet.


Is the daily serve of dairy the same for adults and children?

The serve size is the same for adults and children. A serve of dairy is defined as:

  • 250ml of milk (1 cup)
  • 200ml of yoghurt (3/4 cup) or 2 slices (40g) of cheese.

Toddlers need at least 1.5 serves a day and this increases to 3.5 serves for teens. For men and women over 17 years old, its 2.5 to 4 serves a day.


For more information: Dairy Australia's maintain your bones 


I heard dairy helps with creaking knees. Is that true?

According to a new US study, a glass of milk a day could help women's knees. Women who frequently drink fat-free or low-fat milk appear to have less osteoarthritis in the knees, according to the scientists from Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston.

However, eating cheese increased the problem in women, drinking milk made little difference in men and eating yoghurt did not affect progression in men or women, according to the study reported in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.


Before milking machines were invented, how long did it take farmers to milk a cow?

Before 1894 when milking machines were invented, farmers could only milk about 6 cows per hour  Using a milking machine, it takes less than 5 minutes to milk a cow.


How did cows first come to Australia?

The first cows arrived in Australia in 1788 with Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet, to provide milk and meat. On board were 2 bulls and 7 cows that escaped into the bush on arrival. Australia is now home to around 1.65 million cows.


If butter comes from milk and milk is white, why is butter yellow in colour?

The natural yellow colour of butter comes mainly from the beta-carotene found in the grass cows eat.


Can cows walk up or down steps?

Cows can walk up steps but not down because a cow's knees are unable to bend the way that is needed to walk down steps.


How much water does the average cow drink each day?

The average cow drinks 110-190 litres of water each day - about a bathtub's worth. 


How many teeth do cows have?

Cows have 32 permanent teeth:

  • 8 incisors
  • 24 molars (6 top right, 6 top left, 6 bottom right, 6 bottom left)

Cows, along with all other 192 species of ruminants (animals that chew their cud), do not have top front teeth. Instead they have a 'dental pad'. This allows them to wrap their tongue around grass and pull it into their mouth. Then they use their big molars to chew.

Did you know that bovine teeth can also be used as substitutes for human teeth in dental studies.

Check out this Youtube video


Which process comes first in the production of milk - homogenisation or pasteurisation?



The nose can distinguish among hundreds of substances, even in minute quantities. As cows have a fairly large nose, do they have a good sense of smell?

Cows have an acute sense of smell and can smell something up to 10km away


Since milk is white, where does the yellow colour in butter come from?

The natural yellow colour of butter comes mainly from the beta-carotene found in the grass cows eat.


What does a cow 'chewing their cud' mean?

Cud is a portion of food that returns from a ruminant stomach to the mouth to be chewed for a second time.

The cow chews feed almost without sorting, which makes them different from other animals. After a short period of mastication, when saliva is added, the feed is swallowed in the shape of a bolus. When the cow ruminates, feed returns back to the mouth and is masticated again. Most of the reduction of feed particles occurs during the rumination process. The process of grinding enlarges the surface area of the feedstuff. This greater surface area helps the ruminal microorganisms and digestive juices to break down the feed.


Do all states and territories in Australia have dairy farms?

According to Dairy Australia's latest In Focus production, dairy farms are located as follows:

  • VIC - 4284
  • NSW - 731
  • QLD - 518
  • TAS - 437
  • SA - 268
  • WA - 160

There are no farms listed in the ACT and NT in our latest statistics.


What is the gold standard for dairy cow bedding in barns?

SAND. Some farms use sawdust, straw, ground up paper, corn stalks, sand, water beds, rubber and foam beds and even gel mat cow mattresses.

To use sand, make a deep bed, approximately 25cm to 30cm under each cow, with the bed higher in the front as cows like to lie up-hill. Remove wet or soiled sand each time the cows go to the milking parlour and groom or rake it every day. The main thing you want is that your cows have a dry soft bed. In the USW, when switching from a mattress to sand, a 1.8kg per cow milk increase was observed.