Do Dairy Cattle have Names?

Zweber Brinks Isabella

We often get asked if our cows have names. On our farm all our cows have names. Some have names like Tulip, Cotton, Isabella, Mary and Molly. We also have cows that have names like Fourtwentyone and Threesixty. While these last names may not seem like “real” names to some folks, they are real names for our cows. Many of our cows know their number names when we call them (especially those that like to get out).

Shakespeare once wrote in his play Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose; By any other would smell as sweet.” By giving number names to our cattle doesn’t mean that we love or care for them any less. The reality is that we have over 100 calves born each year. It is really tough to come up with that many names year after year.

So why do we give “real” names to some cattle? The cattle that get “real” names are our registered cattle. We have registered Holstein and Brown Swiss on our farm. Registering cattle is like getting your dog AKC. There is a formula that we use to name our registered cattle. The official name always starts with our farm name “Zweber”, then it is followed by the calves sire’s (dad) name, lastly followed by its individual name. On our farm families share the same first letter in their individual names. For example: the Brown Swiss heifer that was born two days ago, her official registered name is Zweber Zeus Cassidy. Cassidy’s grandmother was Callie.

Zweber Zeus Cassidy

On our farm we only register those cattle that have potential to be shown in fairs where registration papers are important. Some non-registered cattle do get unofficial names, but this is due to their personality. We use to have an all white faced cow that was a stinker when it came to getting her in the parlor. Here name was “Whitey” and she knew it.

There was a study done at Newcastle University in England that showed cows that were named gave more milk. The bottom line of the study is that cows that have personal attention will be more comfortable in the milking situation and give more milk. On our farm it doesn’t matter if your name is Tulip or Fourtwentyeight, it is still a name and we know each of them personally.

Emily

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, http://www.zweberfarms.com

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