All About Dairy

Cow facts


Cows are fascinating, intelligent and social animals!

Cows in Aotearoa play a very important role in the dairy sector because we are the animals that make the milk you drink!

355 DNZ Facttile 880X495 Cows

Did moo know…

  • There are 4.9 million milking cows in Moo Zealand!

  • Cows live in groups called herds - the average herd size for a Moo Zealand farm is 444.

  • The average dairy farm size is 155ha (1ha is about the same size as an international rugby field).

  • The North Island has most of the New Zealand dairy herds, 71% of them.

  • The South Island has 29% of New Zealand's dairy herds.

  • The Waikato Region has the most herds in the Moo Zealand with 22% of dairy cows living there.

  • There are 50,000 people employed in the dairy sector to help look after these cows and to help create the milk and dairy products we love!

Fun cow facts to wow your friends and family

Urbanruralthumb 01 3Breeds

How now, brown cow!
Did you know cows come in different types, called breeds? In New Zealand the most common are the black-and-white Holstein-Friesians, caramel-coloured Jerseys and a mix of the two – a Holstein-Friesian/Jersey cross!

How are spots like fingerprints?
Holstein-Friesian cows have their own special set of spots – no two are the same. Humans have their own special fingerprints. No two humans are the same!

Chew, chew, chew!
Cows spend most of their time eating – their jaws can move more than 40,000 times in one day. If chewing was a competition, cows would beat humans’ hands down - they chew at least 50 times per minute! Cows don't bite grass, instead they curl their tongue around it and pull it from the ground.

Urbanruralthumb 04 Buckets

Saliva helps cows digest
A cow produces more than 50 litres of saliva each day – that’s five big buckets of spit. Erghh! The saliva helps cows digest pasture by balancing out the acid in a cow’s rumen and reducing the risk of bloat.

I'm so full!
Cows drink around 70 litres of water a day and can eat about 100kg of wet grass a day too. On average a cow will spend 8 hours eating, 8 hours chewing her cud and 8 hours sleeping every day.

Upstairs, downstairs
You can lead a cow upstairs, but not downstairs. That’s because cows’ knees don’t bend the same way yours do. (Luckily, cows live mostly on flat paddocks and not two-storey houses like many humans.)

Urbanruralthumb 07 Child

Who smells better?
Do you have a good sense of smell? Maybe – but probably not as good as a cow. A cow can smell something that’s nearly 10 kilometres away!

Nice warm jersey?
A cow’s normal body temperature is 38.6°C. A human’s is 36.5–37.5 °C. If your temperature rose to the same as a cow’s, you’d have a fever–and might need to see your doctor!

Nate Whatsnext Pic4