How Much Milk Can a Cow Produce?

Over the course of an average life span, a single cow can produce 12,500 gallons (47,300 liters) of milk. That amounts to about 200,000 glasses of milk. An average dairy cow in the United States can produce as much as 22.5 quarts (21.3 liters) each day. Factors such as weather conditions and the lactation cycle of the cow will influence the actual rate of production per day. Producing all that milk does require sustenance; the average cow will drink enough water to fill an average bathtub every day and will consume about 20 pounds (9 kg) of hay each day, along with other foodstuffs.

More facts about dairy cows:

  • The number of dairy cows in the U.S. has decreased significantly since 1960. At that time, the U.S. dairy cow population was about 39 million. By 2010, that figure had dropped to about 10 million.

  • There are five main breeds of dairy cow: Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss and Guernsey. The Holstein is usually considered the most populous of all dairy cows in the U.S. Holsteins also generally are the largest in terms of weight and girth. The Brown Swiss is often cited as the second-largest breed of dairy cow.

  • The average dairy cow weighs about 1,400 pounds (635 kg).

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