Archives for posts with tag: Dairy

This is just a shoutout to my friends at Progressive Dairyman Magazine and http://proudtodairy.ning.com/. Thank you so much for featuring me in your “Dairy Blogs We Love” section! I feel so blessed to be recognized.

When I hear the term “factory farming” I cringe, and when I hear it referring the dairy industry I become irate. The public is being brainwashed to believe that large dairies (1000+ cows) are bad. They’re made to believe that they are corporately owned and operated, that the employees and managers care nothing about the livestock, and that they are pushed around, shoved around, and routinely mistreated and sickly. The fact that most Americans think of dairy farming this way makes me feel like we are failing as an industry. The typical person today is 5 or 6 generations apart from the farm. Most have no real idea about agriculture, and it’s fallen upon the industry to educate people. That’s MY mission. Educate those who only know/believe what the radical activist groups slam through the media.

According to Farm Sanctuary:

Since 1991, the number of total U.S. dairies has dropped 55%, while the number of dairies with a herd of 100 or more cows has increased 94%. Every year, more dairy cattle in the U.S. are raised on large corporate operations, or “mega-dairies,” that employ factory-farming techniques.

It’s true. The number of small dairies HAS declined drastically since 1991, and smaller herds are becoming more scarce. However, most dairies aren’t “corporate operations”. Contrary to popular belief, most dairies today are still family owned and operated. Yep. I said it. They are family businesses. It’s still mom and dad and the kiddos that go out there every day and bust their you-know-whats to make a living… plus some extra hired hands because lets face it–there’s a lot of work to be done on a dairy!

And in response to the “factory-farming techniques” bit–it BAFFLES me that people think that animal agriculturalists mistreat their animals. Completely confuses me. A smart person would realize that these animals are the LIVELIHOOD of the industry. Without them, we’re literally nothing. How on Earth would it benefit us to mistreat them in any way?? The happier the cows, the better we do. End of question.

On the dairy, cows are babied. They are given everything they could ever want and more. They’re fed multiple times a day, they are given a soft place to rest, shade, and wind breaks. At any given time, you can walk out to a pen of cows and 75% of them are laying down, chewing their cud (a sign that they are truly relaxed and happy), 20% are eating at the bunks, and 5% are drinking from the troughs. Folks, these are happy cows.

These videos really sum it all up:


When I hear the term “factory farming” I cringe, and when I hear it referring the dairy industry I become irate. The public is being brainwashed to believe that large dairies (1000+ cows) are bad. They’re made to believe that they are corporately owned and operated, that the employees and managers care nothing about the livestock, and that they are pushed around, shoved around, and routinely mistreated and sickly. The fact that most Americans think of dairy farming this way makes me feel like we are failing as an industry. The typical person today is 5 or 6 generations apart from the farm. Most have no real idea about agriculture, and it’s fallen upon the industry to educate people. That’s MY mission. Educate those who only know/believe what the radical activist groups slam through the media.

According to Farm Sanctuary:

Since 1991, the number of total U.S. dairies has dropped 55%, while the number of dairies with a herd of 100 or more cows has increased 94%. Every year, more dairy cattle in the U.S. are raised on large corporate operations, or “mega-dairies,” that employ factory-farming techniques.

It’s true. The number of small dairies HAS declined drastically since 1991, and smaller herds are becoming more scarce. However, most dairies aren’t “corporate operations”. Contrary to popular belief, most dairies today are still family owned and operated. Yep. I said it. They are family businesses. It’s still mom and dad and the kiddos that go out there every day and bust their you-know-whats to make a living… plus some extra hired hands because lets face it–there’s a lot of work to be done on a dairy!

And in response to the “factory-farming techniques” bit–it BAFFLES me that people think that animal agriculturalists mistreat their animals. Completely confuses me. A smart person would realize that these animals are the LIVELIHOOD of the industry. Without them, we’re literally nothing. How on Earth would it benefit us to mistreat them in any way?? The happier the cows, the better we do. End of question.

On the dairy, cows are babied. They are given everything they could ever want and more. They’re fed multiple times a day, they are given a soft place to rest, shade, and wind breaks. At any given time, you can walk out to a pen of cows and 75% of them are laying down, chewing their cud (a sign that they are truly relaxed and happy), 20% are eating at the bunks, and 5% are drinking from the troughs. Folks, these are happy cows.

These videos really sum it all up:


Ethanol. A clean-burning fuel that burns cooler than gasoline and can degrade quickly in water. Some say this is our answer to dependence on oil and a cleaner healthier nation. I say this will be our demise.

Many of you may know the true economic and agricultural effects of this ugly alternative to fuel… and if you do, feel free to stop reading here, but I’m here to inform those who don’t.

Eleven years ago (2000), milk cost $1.88/gallon in the grocery store. Walk into your local grocery store today. You’re looking at approximately $3.50-3.99/gallon today. That’s about twice as much as it was eleven years ago… and let me assure you, that raise in cost for the consumer isn’t income for the farmers. The rise in milk prices is heavily due to the rise in feed costs.

Prices received by Minnesota farmers for corn for June averaged $6.00 per bushel, an increase of $0.60 from the May price.

Litchfield Independent Review

Ethanol and other alternative fuels by way of food crops are driving food prices. It’s easy for the public to jump on the bandwagon and see all the “benefits” of alternative fuel. “Ethanol is eco-friendly”–produce more with less harm! Fooey! Did you know that it takes TWENTY-TWO pounds of corn to produce ONE GALLON of Ethanol? And if that’s not enough to make your head spin, how about this: corn ( the crop harvested for ethanol) requires 29% MORE fossil fuel energy than the biofuel it produces. Hmm. Eco-friendly? More reason to say, “Drill baby, drill?” I think so.

Folks, educate yourselves. There are so many ulterior motives in politics and agriculture today. Things may look sweet on the outside, but take a big bite and you might end up with a mouth full of manure.

Resources:

Alternative Fuels
Litchfield Independent Review

It’s OVER. I survived 6 weeks in Clovis, NM at the Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium-Teaching (SGPDC-T)! It’s been a ride, and I’m happy to say that it was more than what I expected. I learned a lot and cannot wait for next year!

Here are some things I’ve noticed while in New Mexico…

  1. New Mexico has the most beautiful sunsets — sorry Texas.
  2. You can buy liquor in convenient stores.
  3. Prairie Dogs DO exist!
  4. …And so do tumble weeds.
  5. New Mexican rodeos kinda suck — sorry New Mexico.
  6. The lanes in the roads frequently change without warning.
  7. You can’t even get into a bar until your 21–So Lame.
  8. People say the (not)word “alls” in place of “all”. Weird.
  9. There is a certain time of day that no matter where you are in the Clovis area, you’re going to smell dairy cows. Mmm.
  10. The dry heat will make my hair look fabulous and my skin even more fabulous.
And there are a few things I’ll really miss about Clovis…
  1. The weather! I love the dry heat!!
  2. The close-knit farming community. This is a grade A example of agriculture in the United States.
  3. The people. I’ve gotten to know so many great people while staying in Clovis. I’m sad to leave, but anxious to get home.
I love New Mexico!! It definitely has it’s pros and cons, but overall–It’s so great here. Very friendly, nice weather, and overall a fun place to be. I’m sure New Mexico hasn’t seen the last of this native Texan. 🙂
Being in Clovis during these 6 weeks has been such a blessing and wonderful experience. It’s been a period of true self growth for me, and I am excited to see how these changes will affect me back home. My mind is blown thinking about what the future holds for me, and I cannot wait to get out there and make a life for myself doing things I truly love and am passionate about. Who would have thought DAIRY would be my pathway in life? Trust me, if someone had told me coming into college that I would graduate and take a job working in the dairy industry, I would have called BS. Now, I can’t imagine a career better suited for me. This lifestyle is so wonderful. The people who are in the “dairy community” truly know what hard work looks like, and aren’t afraid to put in an honest days work. As an industry, I am pleased to say that the dairy industry works so hard for the best interest of the public. Whether it be environmentally, from an animal welfare perspective, economically, agriculturally—these people want to do what’s right. So I toast my milk to the dairymen, and people of Clovis. Thanks for everything, y’all! See ya next year!

This week, we’re studying mastitis. Yep. A whole week devoted to nothing but teats. It’s been a pretty busy week. So far we’ve tested milk (the SNAP, blood auger, and some other test I can’t think of the name of) for antibiotics and other inhibitors. We got to go out to the dairy (Clover Knolls) and milk some of their hospital pen for samples. My cow was awful. A first lactation cow, I’m sure, because she kept trying to kick me when I milked her–and she tested negative for mastitis, so her teats weren’t sore.
Examples of a couple of tests we ran:
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Yesterday, first session went straight out to the fair grounds to dissect udders. It was just my luck, I got a gangrene, nasty smelling whale of an udder. It was fine when it was faced teats up, but when we flipped it over to look at the glands, it smelled something awful. We did the bare minimum with our udder. Dissected teats, mammary tissue, lymph nodes–and then we went upwind where we couldn’t smell the rotting milk-filled udder. Sick. Some of the udders still… umm… worked? There were a few milk squirting wars going on there. Ours didn’t milk, but it gurgled when we pulled on the teats–I’m guessing because the milk that was left in the tissue was curdled.
Last night, the whole group (all 52 of us) went to a dinner sponsored by Alltech. I still really love this company! For those of you that don’t know, Alltech is an Animal Health company. They are ranked #7 in Animal Health, and out of the top 10, they are the ONLY ones that do not sell hormones or drugs. All of their products are naturally derived. They also sponsored the World Equestrian Games in 2010 in Kentucky–and they make their own Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, and other products (not related to Animal Health, as you might guess).

Today, we went BACK out to Clover Knolls to look at their parlor and milking equipment. Our lecturer made us stick our fingers in the teat cups while the pulsator was on. Some of the expressions were priceless! So funny–and you could only guess what jokes were milling around.

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They let us out early (3:30ish) which was so nice because we got to relax for the rest of the afternoon. Free time around here is scarce, but when we do have free time, it’s always a blast. Today, Shay and I ran a few errands, came back to the room and “sunbathed” on the balcony.
I’m pretty darn proud that I’ve gone 5 weeks in the New Mexico sun and avoided the dreaded “farmer’s tan”, but my legs however are a different story. My arms and legs are totally different colors now, and lets face it, that’s just not an option. So Shay and I decided we’d start to sit out on the balcony and tan our legs for the remainder of the trip. Maybe it’ll work?

After we had sufficiently sat in the sun for a while, we had to get ready for supper. Dr. T and the lecturer from Washington (Mastitis Guy) took all the A&M and WSU students to eat at the Rib Crib. It was a good time–and free–so I can’t complain. 🙂

Tomorrow we’re taking our test early (10) and then going to a sponsored lunch with Pfizer. I’m learning more about animal health companies and I am so looking forward to learning more about this company. I think I just might have found what industry I would like to go into. Now just for a job…

XOXO Y’all! One week left!

Yesterday, the whole group got up early to go to Tuls Calf Ranch. This ranch had 36K calves ON SITE. Seriously. The calves ranged from 1 day old to 5 months(ish) old. The ranch took heifers and bulls(steers) and raised them for dairymen in the area. The ranch would buy veal calves as well, and sell them pretty much as soon as they arrived. Contrary to popular belief, these calves were very well cared for. They weren’t dirty, overmedicated, sick, or anything else. Overall, we just saw a bunch of happy calves. Calves start out in hutches. For those of you that don’t know what a hutch looks like, these are similar to the ones on the calf ranch we toured: There are literally THOUSANDS of calves in these hutches. In the summer, they are lifted off the ground so the calves get plenty of air flow and stay cool, and in the winter, they are put on the ground and turned to face opposite direction of the wind so they don’t get too cold. These calves are so very well cared for. The ranch makes calf treatment a priority. Also contrary to popular belief–all cows here are treated the same way — heifer, bull, or steer! They are all given colostrum upon arrival, vaccinated, and treated with the utmost care. The calves stay in the hutches for a number of weeks until they are big and strong enough to be put in the calf pens. Once in the calf pens, they are sorted by dairy. The heifers stay there to finish growing out until they are old enough to go back to the dairy once again, and the steers are sold for consumption. Neat fact–Did you know that many steak restaurants get their steak and beef from Holstein steers? Some of the most popular are Logan’s Steakhouse and Texas Roadhouse. How ’bout them apples? One might think that a good portion of these calves don’t make it through the “program”, but this particular calf ranches dead loss was under 5%. That’s a pretty good number considering they take calves a day old who may or may not have been fed colostrum at the dairy (like they’re supposed to be). Overall, I was impressed with this operation. It made me feel better about the dairy industry knowing that these calf ranches are truly taking care of business. As some of you have heard (or read in my previous blog post: The Dust Bowl of 2011), Mercy for Animals sent an undercover investigator to pose as a new worker at the ranch. The radicalist coaxed other employees to use a pick ax to euthanize the calves and filmed it (only after partaking himself, mind you). It was a catastrophic event for this business and who knows if it will ever be the same. People should know that sort of behavior is NOT the norm on these kinds of operations. Animals are respected and treated kindly. At the vast majority of calf ranches, maltreatment of the animals is not tolerated and in the case of the calf ranch we toured, any harsh behavior towards the calves results in IMMEDIATE termination. Once again, I’m going to get on my soap box and declare to the world — “Animal agriculture is humane, and we treat our animals nicely because it benefits us to do so!” Not to say that there aren’t some very unfortunate exceptions, but those are few and far between. It does us (as an industry) no good to treat our animals badly. They are our livelihood–our bread and butter. We would be nowhere without them and because of this, they are treated with respect, and given everything they need in order to flourish. Until next time!! XOXO to my Texas folks!