Greetings beautiful people. I hope your week has been filled with many things that light you up and give you a sense of purpose and love for living.
Following on from my last post, another thing I deeply wanted to do and was often thinking of ways and designs of how to make it work is leaving the calves on the cows. Yes crazy for the traditional dairy farmer and transformational for the modern world and it seems more and more true for the desires of the consumer. Animals rights is becoming a huge movement in todays society and at the end of the day the consumer is the one who dictates the market because if you have no one to consume your product then you have no need to be producing it.
I often would think when I was feeding the calves, 50 metres from the dairy, ‘why on earth are we spending so many hours milking the milk out of the cows to pump into a vat, then take the milk out of the vat/milk line to carry across to the calf shed to pour into feeders to feed back to the calf?’ SO much time and energy in the whole process not to mention the stress on the cow and calf often resulting in illness. From retained placentas, high temperatures in the cow and the calf, acidosis, scours, coccidiosis, cryptosporidiosis, salmonella etc.
For a side note, I believe that the ever increasing prevalence of disease/dis-ease are all products of stressed cows and calves and could be prevented by keeping the cow and calf together. All things that now have vaccines and antibiotics to treat them or prevent them. These treatments also put pressure on the immune system either by creating more things for their already weak systems to fight off (vaccines) or by killing any good bugs in the system (antibiotics). And creating more and more expense.
I digress – so I am seeing more farms popping up that are leaving the calves on the cows. All of them do it differently. Some take them off at night and put them together in the day, some do the opposite, some take them away for 8 hours, 12 hours and many variations in between. All of them market their milk and use social media to show the happy family unit together in the pastures or barns and the consumers are happy to pay a higher price for something they consider ethical with the animals rights at the core of the operation. Admittedly there is more effort in setting up or finding someone to process and market the milk but once the leg work is done there are more hours in the day to enjoy other parts of life.
I spent many hours thinking of drafting gate designs to separate the cow and calf either when coming into the yard or into the dairy/parlour itself. Or even having a space under the cows head where the calf can stand or in a herringbone maybe it could pop out of the shed under her head and they are reunited after she exits the dairy. There could be hay and grain for the calves in their waiting space too, so that all animals are well fed and content. Like I have mentioned earlier, I never got to try some of these things and am sure that where there is a Will there is a way. I bet there are already functioning designs at work as I type. It’s just a matter of researching. Just some food for thought and a shorter post tonight as I have a hot date tomorrow and need to get some sleep.
Sleep well caring people and keep up the wonderful work you do.