Why Dairy Cows Drink A Bathtub of Water Every Day

September 11, 2017

When milk’s involved, magic happens. We’re partnering with Milk Life to learn all about the essential role the farm-fresh beverage plays in elevating everyday recipes—and sharing recipes, tools, and tips for incorporating milk’s rich and smooth texture into wholesome at-home cooking. Read up here.

Dairy cows themselves are remarkable: They drink a bathtub’s worth—about 35 gallons—of water every day, producing 6 gallons of milk per day. They can live into their mid-twenties! (Maybe it’s how well-hydrated they are.) They can see almost 360 degrees at any given moment (that’s called “panoramic vision”), but can’t see the colors red or green. They have a four-compartment stomach that allows them to eat and digest “roughage” like coarse grasses and weeds that we never could. And that’s before we’re even talking about milk: A cow produces, on average, 6 gallons of milk a day—that’s 876,000 glasses of milk in a lifetime!

Photo by Maja Säfström

And Americans consume about 155 pounds of milk—that’s about 20 gallons—per person, per year! We love cow’s milk, not only for how well it washes down a slice of chocolate cake but for how well it does other things: carries flavors, ferments, braises, poaches, bakes, sours, tenderizes, flavors, softens, thickens, thins, leans savory, leans sweet. It’s good to drink, yes, but is also an essential kitchen companion:

To braise!

To poach!

To ferment and to sour (and thus, to tenderize!)!

To carry flavor!

To bake!

To thicken!

And don’t forget about its ability, crucially, to steam.

Make magic with milk this fall. We're partnering with Milk Life to learn all about milk and the incredible things cows can do—and arming you with recipes, tools, and tips for making use of milk’s superpowers while we’re at it. Have a look at just how essential its seat at the table is here.

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Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.