Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It Just Comes Naturally

This past weekend when I was home we did one of my favorite things; Preg checking cows! Saying that out loud doesn’t seem nearly as cool as I think it does I’m sure. But it’s so exciting waiting for the vet to confirm pregnancies, all us kids stand around and bet on which cows are bred, hoping that our personal cows are on that list! As I was standing around I thought about something I once read on Ellen DeGeneres’ website. Now I absolutely love Ellen (so does my 16 year old brother, his favorite afterschool TV show) and I loved watching her do crazy fun things with her audience and the people that were on her show. But I recently found this on part of her website. It was a page dedicated to going Vegan, which if that’s what you want to do great but don’t do it for the wrong or untrue reasons! There is one paragraph that says “Dairy cows are considered the most cruelly treated animals in factory farms. They are kept constantly pregnant, and their calves, considered byproducts, are put to death almost instantly.”

Ohh those two lines just burn me up! So I’m just going to give you  a few thoughts that I have about that!

Our cows will have their first calf a little after they are 2 years old (after a 9 month gestation period), it’s then that we can first start milking them. After about 3 to 4 months we will breed them back. If a cow isn’t fully healthy then she won’t breed back, simple as that, if there is even the slightest problem or she hasn’t fully bounced back from calving then we won’t even try to breed her until she is healthy! A unhealthy cow is going to give you unhealthy calves which is not good for anyone! Every year after that we want to make sure that our cows get bred back and have a calf in about 1 year and every year after that. To me that’s not cruel, it's natural, because if these cows were out in the ‘wild’ they would have calves every year, just like lots of other animals that live in the wild. Another great thing about cows having calves every year is that about 2 months before they calve they get dried up (stopped milked) and go on a vacation of sorts. They spend their days lying around and eating, pretty tough life.

There is a couple other reasons we want our cows to have calves every year: one reason is that if they don’t have a calf every year then their milk production will drop drastically! A cow will be milking about 70-90 lbs during her peak lactation (60 -90 days after calving) and after about 10 months will drop to about 20 lbs a day. Having a calf is a way to rest then jump start her lactation cycle! Secondly it allows the farmer to way to get replacement heifers or build his herd.

A brand new mom with her twins, trying to beat the summer heat 

As for putting  calves to death right away why would any farmer do that? That farmer spent a lot of money, time, and feed (9 months worth of feed for two, semen straws run $5 - $50 per straw, etc). And these calves are the future of their operation, the heifers will be replacement cows and the bulls will either be kept for breeding or sold for beef. So to say that a calf is an unwanted byproduct is untrue, they are the most important part of dairy farming. These calves will receive the best care to ensure that they are healthy successful cows and mothers.
Alex LOVES helping me take care of the babies

So needless to say I'm not a big fan of Ellen anymore, and I have shown her webpage to numerous friends,  farmers or not, and they are not impressed. I just tell them that it's time to tell their story!

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