Cows are herbivorous mammals with cloven hoofs and two horns. They are social animals that live in herds based on a developed social hierarchy, with one dominant cow. They use postures, sounds, touch and gestures to communicate with each other as well as with humans.
In Switzerland, cattle are bred mainly on small farms, in herds of 15 to 40 cows, rather than on intensive industrial farms. They are fed on grass (between 70 and 100 kg per day), hay, salt, a lot of water (up to 180 litres a day), and concentrated supplements (2 kg per day). In these conditions, dairy cows produce an average of 28 litres of milk a day.
Grass and hay contain cellulose, which makes them difficult to digest and thus explains why cows have four stomachs. Digestion includes a particular stage, called rumination, where once food has been chewed and swallowed, it is then brought back up into the mouth to be chewed again before being swallowed again and then digested. Cows ruminate for around 8 to 12 hours a day.