It was announced the 2012 Indiana State Fair theme would be "Year of Dairy Cows."
By partnering with the American Dairy Association of Indiana, the Indiana State Fair will prominently feature special exhibits, events and activities centered around the impact dairy cows have on everyone's life.
For those of us who don't raise dairy cows, it would probably be useful to brush up on our facts about dairy cattle.
For instance, did you know that a typical dairy cow will eat about 100 pounds of food a day? The 100 pounds of food is composed of hay, grain and silage.
In addition to the feed that they eat, they also consume up to 50 gallons of water a day.
All of that food and water is then broken down by the cows four-chambered stomach.
By having four chambers within their stomach, dairy cattle are considered to be a ruminant animal.
Because cattle have four different chambers within their stomach, many people say that a cow has four stomachs.
Ultimately, the food is broken down within the stomach and utilized to produce energy that goes to the livelihood of the animal and producing six to seven gallons of milk per day on average.
There are six main breeds of dairy cattle found in Indiana. They include: Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey and Milking Shorthorn.
Ayrshires originated in the County of Ayr in Scotland prior to 1800. This red and white breed of cattle was then imported into the U.S. around 1822. At maturity, the cows will weigh more than 1,200 pounds.
Brown Swiss originated in Switzerland. They were then introduced into the U.S. in 1869 in Massachusetts. They are known for their chestnut to dark black hide with a grayish stripe running down their back.
Guernsey cattle originated in the Isle of Guernsey. This breed was then brought to the U.S. in September in 1840. They are known for the high butterfat content found in their milk. This tan and white colored breed is now considered genetically much different than those originally found on the Isle of Guernsey because of the artificial insemination.
Holstein cattle are known to be very large and have either a black and white or red and white hide. They originated in Europe and were introduced into the U.S. in the 1850s. At maturity, a Holstein cow can weigh 1,500 pounds.
The Jersey breed is one of the oldest breeds of dairy cattle known. They originated on the Island of Jersey. Cattle of this breed often are more nervous than other breeds. They are known to be very light gray to very dark fawn in color with a dark tongue and dark switch (tip of the tail).
Milking Shorthorns originated in the Valley of the Tees River in England. They were introduced in the U.S. in 1783. Milking Shorthorns are known for their burnt red and white hide that is thoroughly mixed throughout the body of the animal. This hide color is referred to as roan.
There are not many dairy cattle found locally in Clay and Owen counties. However, Indiana had approximately 167 thousand head of dairy cattle in 2009. Those cows in turn produced approximately 3,383 million pounds of milk, making this an important agricultural commodity in Indiana.
As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County or reach me directly at email@example.com.
Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
* Saturday -- Nature Day, Clay County Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Presentations on snakes (11 a.m.), and raptors (noon),
* Sept. 13 -- Ag Outlook Meeting, 8:30-9:30 a.m., Owen County Extension Office. RSVP to 812-829-5020 by Sept. 12,
* Sept. 13 -- Owen County Ag. Advisory Board meeting, 6 p.m., Owen County Extension Office,
* Sept. 15 -- Owen County Conservationist Class, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Owen County Library,
* Sept. 15 -- Clay County Ag Advisory Board meeting, 6 p.m., Clay County Extension Office,
* Sept. 20 -- Tentative Owen County Extension Board meeting,
* Sept. 23 -- Tentative date for the Nature Bowl,
* Sept. 27 -- Clay County Extension Board meeting, and
* Sept. 30 -- Entry deadline for Indiana Beef Evaluation Program. For more information, log on to www.ansc.purdue.edu/ibep/.