Were you under the mistaken impression that dairy cows ate grass?

The March 25, 2002 issue of Hoard’s Dairyman (the dairy farmers magazine) reveals a mixed menu of gourmet foods in a dairy cow’s diet, including chicken feathers, blood, pork, fish, and soybeans.

Does that grass-fed cow portrayed on a carton of milk reflect what really goes into moo-juice?

Better check what’s in Elsie’s medicine cabinet. Few cows ever see those grassy fields. The page 232 Hoard’s article reveals:

Nearly seventy-nine percent of cows are fed sodium bicarbonate. Greater than half of the cows in America receive selenium, yeast, and magnesium oxide. More than one third of America’s dairy cows take supplements including zinc methionine, niacin, anionic salts, and tallow (rendered fat) from their deceased brothers and sisters.

Forty-eight percent of dairy cows are fed roasted soybeans! Yummm. Thirty-nine percent receive dried blood from their own brutally murdered children, mothers, sisters, and aunts. Makes me sick to my stomach.

Fifteen percent receive ground-up fish. Ever see a cow working a trout stream? Four percent of cows eat feathers. Don’t let a cow near your down comforter. Two percent of cows are fed pork.

All of those feathers and blood must make for a thirsty bovine. How much water does a cow drink? Over two hundred pounds per day! Since the average cow in America yields just 50 pounds of milk each day, where does that other 150 pounds go? Multiply the 9,115,000 dairy cows in America by 150 pounds of urine each day, by 365 days in a year, and you’ll end up with enough pee to fill the Potomic.

You’ll end up with enough pee to fill every one of 50 million bathtubs in America for two months so that each day they overflow. (One-half trillion pounds!) Not to worry, though. The pee is actually filtered into our groundwater, and you can hardly taste it when brushing your teeth. (Perhaps you now understand why water is chlorinated, fluoridated, and disinfected before you turn on your tap.)

Robert Cohen author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (notmilkman@notmilk.com)
Dairy Education Board

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