When cows take a bath, do you use mist or a stream of water?
It depends on where and why the cow is being bathed.
One reason for bathing cows is because they are going to a show. In this case, they are usually washed with a bucket and/or hose, shampooed and then brushed and groomed until they look their best.
Another reason for washing cows is to be sure that no dirt gets into the milk. In this case, usually only their udders need to be washed before milking, but sometimes the whole cow may be cleaned before she comes into the milking parlor (where the milking machines are kept) if the pastures or holding areas are very muddy. To wash udders, buckets of warm, soapy water are used, with the washing done with paper towels.
Cows may also be misted or sprinkled to keep them cool in the summer or hot climates. Here, the misters are designed to cool the air around the cows, while sprinklers are used to really cool hot cows, with enough water to thoroughly soak the cow so that evaporation (sometimes helped with fans) can cool her.
In some places, cows have access to ponds and they will stand in the water to get cool.
Hope you keep your interest in cows! They're wonderful animals.
DVM, MPH, PhD
University of Maryland
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Update: June 2012