This will be the last in my June Dairy Month Bovine Basics series. The idea for these posts came when talking to my kids about cows. They’ve got this series of little books about animals, and really, the info is pretty decent for toddlers: cows say moo, eat grass and live in barns, and their babies are called calves. These facts alone are all true, which is a start! But as with most things made for toddlers, there’s more to the story, and since our kids can see cows and heifers out of most of our windows (and love spending time outside where they can see even more cows and heifers), they want more. I will note this also makes their cow-loving parents very happy!
Previous editions of Bovine Basics cover proper cattle terminology and breeds of cows (specifically those at our farm). Another thing we talk with our kids about a lot is what the cows eat, but I’ve covered that in previous posts. The last thing the boys are already learning is cow anatomy. We pay a lot of attention to our cows’ form. How their body is put together actually has a pretty big influence on their health, including their milk production. There’s a lot more to a cow than her udder, so without further ado, I created a graphic using one of the photos I took in the pasture a few weeks ago pointing out some of the main body parts of a cow.
At age 3, Dominic can correctly identify the obvious traits we share with cows (head, ears, eyes, etc.) as well as the tail, hooves, dew claws, poll and udder, and he knows that veins on the udder are a good thing and help milk production. He also knows that our cows are either polled (naturally hornless) or have their horns removed at an early age for their safety and ours. Our boys are fascinated by the cows, and we are really enjoying teaching them about the animals we raise and love.
The last thing I want to say is that there are truly no stupid questions here. I only learned the term poll about 5 years ago, and it took me longer than I care to admit to remember which bone was the hook and which was the pin. If you ever have any questions about cows or farming, please ask. Hopefully I know the answers, but if I don’t – I know who to ask!