Did You Know? Fun Facts About Dairy

Last week we posted in celebration of June National Dairy Month. This week, we thought it would be fun to share some facts about dairy you might not know. Bonus:  use these facts and quiz your family at the dinner table tonight.  HISTORICALLY SPEAKING…

  • The modern cow is descended from a now-extinct, large-horned, long-haired animal called the aurochs.
  • Human beings have been consuming cows’ milk since they domesticated the aurochs about 10,000 years ago.


  • A typical adult Holstein cow weighs about 1,500 pounds. Bulls can weigh more than 2,000 pounds. 
  • In 2008, the average Washington cow produced 14.5% more milk than the average U.S. cow.
  • Most Washington dairies milk their cows twice per day, usually about 12 hours apart.
  • Cows have no upper teeth. They curl their tongues around grasses and pull them off, swallowing them unchewed. Digestion takes place in their four stomachs.
  • The pattern of a Holstein’s black spots are unique — no two animals are the same.


  • Dairies can be found in 27 Washington counties. 68% are in western Washington, 32% in eastern Washington.
  • Yakima County is the 11th largest dairy-producing county in the U.S.
  • In 2009, Washington ranked 2nd in milk production per cow among the 50 United States.
  • Whatcom County is home to the largest number of dairy farms in Washington (131 in 2008).


  • Dairy processing plants first began to use glass bottles to package milk in 1884.
  • Dairy processing plants first began to use paper cartons to package milk in 1906.
  • Dairy processing plants first began to use aseptic containers to package milk in 1981.
  • U.S. dairy farms produce roughly 21 billion gallons of milk annually.
  • Dairy processing plants first began to use plastic jugs to package milk in 1964.


  • The U.S. produced 1.55 billion gallons of ice cream in 2007. 
  • Vanilla is the most popular flavor of ice cream (30%), followed by chocolate (8%), butter-pecan (4%), strawberry (3.7%) and chocolate chip mint (3.2%)
  • The average American consumes 21 pounds of ice cream per year.
  • The ice cream cone was invented at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.


  • The average American consumed almost 33 pounds of cheese in 2007. In 1910, the average was just 5 pounds.


  • High blood pressure (hypertension) can be reduced by consuming low-fat dairy products.
  • There is no scientific evidence that chocolate milk makes kids hyperactive.
  • Milk is the most closely monitored and most heavily regulated food in the grocery store.