Questions you always wanted to ask a farmer about cows

I’d like to say that as a farmer’s wife I know lots about what goes on the farm.  I know some, but I can see N’s knowledge overtaking mine soon.

When I first met the OH, and then later when we got married I used to ask all the stupid questions that had probably been going round my mind since I was a little girl.  So if you’ve got some seemingly stupid cow questions (and yes, he did make me feel silly for asking them!), then you might find my OH’s answers here of help.

Ask a Farmer- Q&As about cows Bubbablue and me

Q1.  Do cows sitting down in a field really mean it’ll rain (I said they were stupid!)?

After he laughed and scorned a lot, I was told ‘No, they’re just all tired’.  I’m not sure that’s really a great answer. Why would all cows be tired at the same time during the day time.  It’s not like they do much other than chew the cud, walk up and down a field and sleep.

Q2.  What determines the colour of a calf?

Turns out it’s similar to the colour of eyes in humans.  Genetics and dominant colours of the cow and bull.  It seems logical now, but I’d not realised it myself.  So a grey calf when there’s a black bull and brown cow, is as simple as a genetic line and the dominant colour.

Q3. Why do cows always seem to face the same way when they’re standing in a field?

The OH laughed again at this and asked whether I was really asking that.  Ok, I admit some of my questions probably seem really stupid, but I’m getting him well versed in answering silly questions that I’m sure N will be asking when he’s older.

It seems other people have been thinking about this a lot too over on The Guardian.

Q4. Do cows produce more milk the more they’re suckled by calves (or milked), like women breastfeeding?

Ok, so I didn’t really expect the OH to answer that one, he’s a bit squeamish at anything involving bodily fluids.  So I had to turn to Google.

It seems that ‘in calf’ cows can produce up to 10 times more milk than normal, and yes that’s why dairy cows are bred from in relatively quick succession to keep up the milk yield.  I couldn’t find anything that explained whether having calf suckle made the cow’s production match the calf’s needs like a mother and baby would.  But it makes sense that it would.

Our cows are beef so the calves are out in the field with their mothers for much longer.

answering questions about cows - cow and calf

Hopefully you’re now straight on some of those questions that you might have been burning to ask.  If you’ve got any other farming questions, do let me know in the comments and I’ll do an ‘ask a farmer’ update.

 

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20 thoughts on “Questions you always wanted to ask a farmer about cows

  1. Ha ha, I’d have probably asked the exact same cow questions. It’s a little embarrassing how little I know about all sorts of animals really. I better brush up on my knowledge before our little one is here so that if and when they start to ask questions – I’ll know some answers. Thanks for starting me off on the right foot!

  2. I never expected to read a blog post on cows today but it’s so nice to get a little extra info about something you take for granted. I’m a vegetarian so probably read this is a completely different light than a meat eater but enjoyed it none the less. I do love the idea of bringing up my boys on the freedom of a farm.

  3. I though at first that I have no questions at all about cows – then realised, yes, I wondered if them lying down meant rain too?! I am a bit disappointed that it doesn’t, if i am honest 😉 Kaz x

  4. These are all perfectly reasonable questions and I would have asked them without a hint of embarrassment.

    Can I add my own question? Is it true that cows will explode if they aren’t milked?

  5. I used to work for the Ministry of Agriculture and I remember having to talk to a farmer who’d lost his prize bull in an accident…he was fighting back tears, so I guess farmers do get attached to certain animals. Plus I’m guessing a bull costs alot of money & is a huge financial loss to a farm. #ukawesomebloggers

    1. 1000s for a normal bull, more for a prize one. Certainly they’re expensive animals, especially when TB gets involved and animals get slaughtered for having inconclusive results, and then after found not to have it like many do.

  6. I’ve always wanted to know the answer to the cows sitting down and rain question. And I always always think ta going to rain when I see them like that
    Do farmers sometimes develop a soft spot for cows and end up keeping them as pets?
    You should definitely do more of these. I always find these kind of things really fascinating (I was just wondering when lambing will start at Coombe mill today too :))

    1. Glad it’s not just me that wondered. I still think the rain prediction thing isn’t far off!

      Our lambing starts next month, although friends of ours have started in February, and a farm on the way to work already has lambs in their fields.

    1. I never knew that. I thought I knew a bit about them, but there’s always those little strange questions and myths that you just wonder…or maybe that’s just me!

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