Magazine

Online Extra: Table: Tale of Two Cows


Conventional Cow

Organic Cow

Name

An ID number

Daisy, Peaches, etc.

Average Life Span

4 to 5 years

10+ years

Average Daily Milk Output

54 pounds

43+ pounds*

Primary Diet

Silage, hay, and commercial feed that can include corn, barley, fishmeal, potato waste

Grass from pastureland and hay, with some organic feed

Additives/Medicines

Bioengineered growth hormones, antibiotics

Occasional vitamins and herbs

Living Quarters

Dairy "feed lots" or barns, sometimes in stalls where they are machine milked

Spacious barns or stalls, lots of outdoor time

Breeding

Artificial insemination

Mating with bulls

*Organic output can be 20% less, in part because farmers often don't push the animals as hard

Source: U.S. Agriculture Dept., BusinessWeek


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