Dairy Farmers Care for their Cows Like You Care for Your Pets

The following post was written by John Parker, an independent agricultural writer from Ashtabula County, Ohio. The pictures are from our dairy farm.

Most folks who have a pet, with few exceptions, give that pet the best of care because they enjoy that dog or cat or whatever animal they have.

For those of you who live in town, keep in mind that dairy and other livestock farmers give their animals that same best of care, again with very few exceptions. They do this because they know it is the right and humane way to treat their animals – and they wouldn’t make any money if they mistreated them.

Practices followed by dairy farmers to provide excellent care are interesting and involve the health and comfort of their cows. Some of these practices include;

Comfortable cows relax in our freestall barn
Housing animals in freestall barns allow them to move around freely giving them a comfortable place to lie down when they want to and access to feed and fresh water anytime. Farmers use sawdust, sand, straw or mattresses for bedding. These barns are kept free from drafts and warm enough to keep water pipes from freezing during the winter. Large fans, water misters and roll up sides provide ventilation to keep cows cool in the summer.

Cows are fed a balanced ration prepared by our nutritionist
Dairy farmers want their cows to eat a healthful, balanced diet that provides the necessary nutrients to produce milk and maintain their body weight. Many farmers hire nutritionist to test the feed that goes into the cows and recommend the additional protein, vitamins and minerals the animals need. Farmers go to a lot of time and expense to give their animals the right feed.

To keep legs and feet healthy regular hoof trimming and use of disinfectant foot baths are regular practices on dairy farms.

The milking machine is on each cow 4 to 5 minutes
Milking the cows is another operation where excellent care is given. Udders are washed and sanitized before milking and teats dipped with a disinfectant after the machine comes off to prevent organisms getting into them in the barn.

Milk is cooled immediately to 38 to 40 degrees to keep it healthy. Milk is also one of the most tested food products for bacteria and antibiotics that you will find anywhere.

We could go on and on talking about the practices dairy farmers large and small follow to keep their animals healthy and produce a safe, healthy food for us. They spend a lot of time and money to feed us and to protect the food supply while keeping their animals healthy and comfortable.

John Parker writes a regular column titled Farming Footnotes which is featured in the Geauga Maple Leaf Newspaper in Northeast Ohio. Thank you John for providing interesting information on agriculture topics!