- The first cows arrived in Australia in 1788 on the First Fleet. There were two bulls and seven cows on board and by the year 1800, these animals had multiplied to a population of 1034
- Cows are vegetarians and eat a variety of grasses and clovers
- They usually munch their way through 70 kilos of grass and drink 70 litres or more of water a day
- Over the summer season when grass is in short supply, they can be fed one or more types of supplements including grain, turnips, millet or hay
- Cows have four stomachs to digest all the grass they eat
- On average, cows produce 5,250 litres of milk per year
- More than half of Australia's milk comes from Victoria
- Dairying is Australia's third largest rural industry behind the beef and wheat industries
- Approximately 40,000 people are directly employed on dairy farms and in manufacturing plants nationally
Cows have four stomachs to store and digest the grass they eat, using the nutrients obtained to make milk. As illustrated below.
Stomach 1: The Rumen
The first stomach stores the freshly half-chewed grass and mixes it with fluid to soften it before it passes to the second stomach.
Stomach 2: The Reticulum
The second stomach is where the softened grass is turned into 'cuds' (balls of grass). From here it is regurgitated and chewed again for around 30 to 40 times a minute before passing to the third stomach.
Stomach 3: The Omasum
In the third stomach, the 'cuds' are squashed and passed to the fourth stomach.
Stomach 4: The Obamasum
In the fourth stomach the grass is finally digested and passed to the intestines where essential nutrients are absorbed into the body. The remainder is sent to the cow's udder where it is made into milk.