I have read the anecdote in Russian that reads literally as "to get more milk from a cow and spend less food, you should feed your cow less and milk it more". Is that a common anecdote in Russia? Do you say that in everyday speech in Russia?

How would you react if someone said it without an explanation of what he/she meant by a cow and milk?

The context: I come to my colleagues at work and say, for example

Ruble is falling, and we are drowning in the crisis. I want to get more milk from a cow and spend less food.

  • One of the thankfully rare questions that approaches the Yahoo Answers level of casual Russophobia. Jul 11, 2015 at 18:43
  • Why do you call it an anecdote?
    – Quassnoi
    Jul 11, 2015 at 21:42
  • @Quassnoi I think the OP meant "a joke", but used the like-for-like for анекдот
    – Aleks G
    Jul 12, 2015 at 20:03
  • AleksG: I was curious why did he use that very word
    – Quassnoi
    Jul 12, 2015 at 21:41
  • 1
    Ну почему же, эту фразу я слышал и не один раз. Но вот чтобы ее постоянно и при любой возможности употребляли - этого конечно нет.
    – Artemix
    Jul 22, 2015 at 11:24

4 Answers 4


I read that joke, but I don't say or hear it in everyday speech.

How would I respond to it, depends entirely on the context.

UPDATED: In my opinion, the joke is about silly and trivial suggestions by stupid "experts", so it is not to be used in this context. If applied to Russia, the joke is about authorities, which, according to the joke author, in hard times increase the burden of taxation instead of trying to help people/small businesses. For your context, I don't even understand what is the meaning.


Я эту шутку слышал, причем несколько раз. Я не скажу, что она сильно ходовая, но вполне известная.

To understand it better insert this "чтобы корова меньше ела и давала больше молока" into google search and read how this joke is used in different contexts. That will allow you to feel it better.


This is a quite famous joke. Usually it is used as a sarcastic and/or ironic comment of someone's management style. It is obvious, that if you feed your cow less, you can't get more milk. But if someone doesn't understand, how things work, he can try to "feed cow less" and "milk it more" at the same time.
For example, your boss gathered you and all your colleagues and said, that from now all of you will work harder and get less salary. After that you can comment his words with this joke.
Your example is completely incorrect.


Во времена СССР анекдоты можно было услышать только от друзей и коллег, а сейчас много анекдотов публикуется в "жёлтой прессе" и в Интернете. Этот анекдот (о корове) - мало известен, в повседневной речи в России его не употребляют. Совершенно понятно, что анекдот о корове и молоке - иносказательный и речь в нём идёт на самом деле о экономическом кризисе. During Soviet times, the jokes could be heard only from friends and colleagues, and now a lot of anecdotes is published in the tabloids and on the Internet. This anecdote (of a cow) is little known, in everyday speech in Russia it is not consumed. It is clear that the story about the cow and the milk is allegorical and it is actually about the economic crisis.

  • I agree, I've never heard of it.
    – Avtokod
    Jul 11, 2015 at 18:16
  • 1
    Эта шутка была в КВН году примерно в 1989, и после этого какое-то время ее знали все. Сейчас, видимо, позабыли.
    – J-mster
    Jul 14, 2015 at 4:43

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