Modern day cow vs older style cow

What to write about today? Well my hot date turned out to be hot, hotter than I could imagine. He ticks my boxes and was well worth the wait.

Now to touch on the modern day cow compared to the older style cow. My belief is that we have bred and are breeding cows or animals that are high maintenance.

The older style cows were smaller therefore less feed required for maintenance and less impact on the ground and less impact on their legs and feet. They did give less milk but maybe that’s not such a bad thing when the cost to care for them didn’t outweigh the money coming in.

They had lower narrower rear udders which are now high wide rears udders to fit more milk in and possibly change the tilt of the udder so the milking machines can attach better. This has created higher pins to pull up and make room for the rear udder. Now the high pins really urke me. Farmers believe nowadays that they need a cow with wide pins so the calf can fit out between the pins. The truth is that the calf comes out over the pins or at least it used too. Look at the rump set up of any land mammal – beef, dogs, sheep, camels, giraffe, lions etc. All of them have low pins compared to their topline, so the baby can come out over the pins and the uterus can drain naturally rather than retaining the placenta and the fluids that naturally occur in the body throughout the cows life. Hence the increase in maintenance required to keep cows fertile. The dairy industry has a huge fertility problem and I believe one of the big causes is because of the changing of the pelvic tilt. It is now level in our modern day cow rather than being tilted for natural drain and ease of calving.

In our herd and in my life, I was taught to admire the cow with a wide muzzle for intake of more air, wide chest for more heart room, huge spring of rib for more food consumption, wide rear udder for more milk and straight topline because I don’t really know why (Ha funny that I don’t know what the supposed benefits of a straight topline are, after all those years. I just ran with the saying or appearance that that was good).

Also one cow I admired most in our herd was an average width cow right throughout and a seemingly narrow gutted thing with not much depth of rib or spring of rib. The reason I admired her is because she never got sick, never had sore feet, always got in calf and produced up to 53 litres/day (Her name was Hadley, thanks for making me think and open my mind Hadley. To question my beliefs.) So my question was, a cow with a big spring of rib and depth of body actually eats more but that doesn’t mean she is an efficient feed converter. I started to wonder if we were breeding the wrong way for the wrong reasons. Or maybe they are good reasons but the reality was the opposite. 

I still admire those wide cows with depth and spring of rib, and all cows for that matter. The modern cows do produce huge quantities of milk. At the same time they also have a high rate of infertility and mastitis. We have created more problems and now need a semi permanent hoof trimmer, vet, nutritionist etc. Not to mention the endless use of drugs to keep the cow milking and producing off spring. Have you ever asked yourself what chemicals you are consuming in your own milk and what effect that has on your own health? I did, and it scared the shit out of me. Glysophate is in almost everything these days, something like 90% of people have it in their urine. I realise this is not a drug used on cows but I use it as an example of how much foreign synthetic chemicals are in our food. People talk about clean and green food production in Australia but I think we don’t actually have very clean or green food. It is all laden with chemicals unless it is Organic and even then the organic laws are sketchy.  

So my questions for you to think about today are:

 Do we need to breed an efficient feed converter?

What does that efficient feed converter look like?

 I think the focus needs to be on a cow with a rump structure like a donkey (yes a donkey) and an efficient feed converter, who is medium framed. If there is a change in the way we farm ie. leaving calves on cows, then maybe the shape and tilt of the udder needs to go back the way it was so the calf can easily suckle and the machine needs to be the thing to change. We have bred the teats smaller, thinner, under and pointing in which also baffles me.  Not only do the teats that are small, thin and point in pose a problem for the calf they also suck air when you put the cups on. What on earth have we been thinking???? Maybe the semen companies are ruled by the pharmaceutical companies…….if they tell us what to breed and why and make a convincing argument for it then we end up with the endless high maintenance cow we have today who keeps the pharmaceutical companies in business.

I have a friend who was a large animal vet, mostly dairy cows. He turned to dairy farming to breed a cow that doesn’t require a pharmaceutical company or a nutritionist to keep her alive. He is actually doing a marvellous job and is not far off achieving his goal. His favourite cow is a small to medium framed cow who he has never treated for anything. He barely notices her and she has a calf every year and produces above average in his herd.

Well my girls are awake and calling for me.

Have a beaut day.    

More and more farmers are doing it!

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.   

For some people, this seems crazy

I want you to imagine for a moment what it would be like only having to show up for milking once per day…………….

Imagine the benefits of less power bills, milk at a time of day that suits, you will be free to go to the footy, sleep in, stay at the wedding, less traffic up your laneways therefore less maintenance on the laneways, less feet problems, less work load, less maintenance on dairy equipment and the list probably goes on. Just sit with this for a moment and feel how it makes you feel. What is coming up for you? Is there fear of what people would think? Is there anxiety because this is what we’ve always done? Is there a feeling of guilt for being lazy? Is there the thought that my cows will suffer? Is there the feeling of what would I do with my day? Will there be an increase in mastitis?  

Is there also a deep feeling of joy, relief, like you could actually have a life that you want. Where you can attend the children’s sports day, pick the kids up off the bus, not be so wrung out and stressed all the time. Less pain in your body, more vibrancy for life. You know you deserve to live the life you dream of, it does not have to wait until retirement; if you make it to retirement. We have been programmed to work hard, have limited involvement with our families, not to have days off or sleep ins, or even feel guilty about having a nap in the day time. It’s high time we started looking after ourselves and our families and enjoying most moments of everyday, not some moments, some days.     

Is there the fear of less money coming in from less milk! Now for some of you with high producing cows, pedigree/show animals this may seem ludicrous. It also might light you up at the thought of an easier life for yourself, your family, your animals and the land. IF it does light you up, then you need to seriously consider changing things. I have a person in my life that owns his own plane. He also owns a dairy farm and a truck company. He watches people fly his plane over his farm as he rents the plane out and is only 10 hours off being able to fly it himself. I asked him if he could click his fingers and be/do anything in the world, what would it be? Straight up, he said be a commercial pilot. When I asked what was stopping him, he said time and money. Well, he would have all the time in the world and plenty of money if he sold both businesses. It’s crazy that he may never achieve his dream. I think there is more stopping him, like anxiety and depression. I also think that depression comes on when people aren’t following their dreams or true calling and anxiety is putting ourselves into situations we don’t want to be in but continue to put ourselves in because we are also programmed to feel guilty about putting ourselves first. So we continue to go to parties that we don’t really want to be at or social events that don’t resonate with us. If only we could dig deep, think of the things that bring us joy and set our lives up to be joyous.

I propose for you to write a list of things that really make you joyous……… It can be anything like dancing, laughing around a campfire, watching a movie, having a warm bath, riding the motorbike around the cows, walking thru the cows; if this is one, I want you to feel deeper inside yourself for what is it about the cows that brings joy. Maybe it’s their energy and calmness. Then feel into the things about the activities that actually bring you joy and fill your energy tank up. Is it the connection with people, the energy of the fire, the energy of nature, the gorgeousness of the being that is a cow. Cows energy is a very healing and huge energy. I have heard that it takes 7 years of being out of a cows energy to adjust to not having them around! That alone is scary if there is a consideration for getting out of dairying.

There are always ways around everything. You always have a choice. If it was to get out of dairying and you love the energy of the cows, then set up your life so that you have at least one cow around you. After doing the joy list, think of ways to do those things in your everyday life and set it up. You are your own master. If it’s sitting around a campfire, then start having fires in your yard or make Sundays a day to light a fire by a river or what ever it is, just start doing it more and see how your health and clarity changes.

So back to milking once per day. There will be certain times of the year where it will pay to send more milk away, therefore pay staff and the extra costs. But there will be certain times of the year where it will not pay to have staff and send extra milk away. Maybe there could be a consideration and experiment for once per day milking thru Summer (in Australia) when the water prices are huge therefore you won’t have as much pastures or water use. In Australia there is a winter incentive milk price. So people could think about majority Autumn calving and once per day milking towards the Summer months and maybe, just maybe a dry period over Christmas Yay Yay Yay!!

My children are up now and my attention keeps being interrupted so I will sign off for today. Have fun with discovering your joys and finding ways to bring them into your everyday life as a way of living, not something that is saved for weekends, special occasions or retirement.

Thanks for taking the time to read.            

Stressed people = stressed animals

And stress on animals = stress on people.

In my time on the farm I observed that whenever the people were at their most stressed; everything was stressed. And I observed that at these times the machinery would break down, pumps would stop, things would get broken, animals would be sick, mastitis/BMCC was at it’s worst and the people (whether workers or employers) would be at their most stressed. It is kind of like your peace is the rest of the farms peace. So I would often look at what was going on for me when the Cell Count would rise and try to resolve my issues before tackling anything else. Or maybe a worker would be having a particularly hard time with something in life, or a worker was thinking of moving on. Your energy vibration is like a ripple effect that ripples over the whole farm and if you are not in a peaceful state then nothing is, which then has a snowball effect. Also a farmers body will tell them when they are not doing something in alignment with their true values or calling. We all blame a sore back on the concrete, the strenuous work we do. In my experience, when I was totally loving my work and treating it like play and caring for my animals, the Earth, the people around me and myself, I never had any sore back, sore neck, sickness and so on.

I see a lot of farmers complaining about their sore back, having hip and back operations, heart attacks, skin cancers etc. and those same farmers are ones that haven’t been enjoying what they do for so many years I struggle to remember a time when they did enjoy it. It’s a huge thing to admit that you actually want to do something else or completely change the way you do things. People might think you are crazy and talk about you. It’s what you’re good at, It’s what my family have always done, I would be a failure, what else would I do and so on. I have been there so many times. It’s high time farmers and people in general listen to their body and instead of going to the doctor for a bandaid treatment, look within at what would make you happy. And if you truly find what brings you joy and start doing those things, I bet 100% that any health issues and sore body parts will disappear.  

We also blame the milk prices or the water prices. This essentially is giving our power away to the factories and the people who control the water. I agree the milk prices in all countries is way off the mark for what it costs the farmer to produce it. The water prices in this country are incredibly high compared to the return the farmer gets on the end product too. Farmers have a mindset that they have no control over anything other than what happens on their farm. They are also too busy to add any extra work load. But, it is not empowering the farmer to sit back and complain about the milk prices and water prices and keep producing the product and sending it to the factory who pays a pittance for the product and clearly does not appreciate the product, the people who have worked hard to produce the product or the animals and land that produces the product. It does not empower anyone to give their power over to someone else by blaming others for their hardship.

There are so many things that can be done to make your product a niche product. For farmers to come together and be creative and find new ways to produce and market their product. Admittedly some of my ideas are extreme and some people around the world are doing different things and having success with much less work load. Consumers are the ones who control the market and the farmer has to supply what the consumer wants. More and more consumers are wanting ethical products and that is not just with animal products. 

I will go deeper on these ideas in my next post. For now I will touch on them as my children are wanting me and I want to get organised for the day. Like I said some of these ideas seem crazy especially for me who comes from large framed, high producing Holsteins stud cows. This is part of why I was never able to do the extreme experiments on my family farm. Also consider that if you are in a state of joy then you will be loving yourself, your animals and the land. And if the work load is less and the incoming money is more than the out going money, then does it really matter how you do it or what you do?

Consider once per day milking, leaving the calves with the cows for a 12 hour period. Either overnight or thru the day. Pasteurising your own milk, having a co op with your neighbours and between you all, you pay people to do the marketing, processing etc.

My apologies for not elaborating in this moment. I have a need to be with my children and get sorted for the morning.

Thanks again for reading.            

Feeding pregnant animals

I didn’t have this in mind to write about but it just came up and it is something that is overlooked.

We fed our animals well and I would have said that we did all the time but there was a time, (I still see people do it) when we used the heifers and often pregnant heifers to graze the paddocks down so we could sow them with minimal trash/dry grass to clog the seeder. After being pregnant myself, I realised how terribly cruel that was. Man oh man I was hungry most of the time from the moment I got pregnant, both times. And if  I was somewhere not close to food when I started to get hungry, I quickly got hangry (pregnant term for hungry and angry).  People use the dry cows for the same thing, to clean up the paddocks. I feel so much for these pregnant animals now and hope that farmers can realise that that time in an animals life is when they possibly need the most nurturing. Load them up with a variety of fodder, both dry and fresh. Mineral licks, weedy paddocks, the lot. I bet you will notice a difference in the transition from pregnant to the dairy. And possibly less infection, retained placentas and ease of calving. As long as their environment at calving time is stress free. By stress free I mean trying to keep it as natural as possible.  If they are in the paddock, make sure they have enough shelter and predators are kept away. I considered buying a Mareema dog or an Alpaca to keep the foxes away. I never did because of the care needed for the dog (feeding) and the shearing of the Alpaca. If they are calving indoors try to have it nice and dry, plenty of space, clean water and minimal distractions and noise. They need to be in their comfort zone.

Once they get to the dairy you obviously don’t want the cows standing around for hours ( like we did at our old dairy). This creates so many feet problems. And for a fresh cow the last thing she needs is to be standing around uncomfortable. I really wanted to plant herbs around the edges of the yard for them to pick at while they waited. Any herb you can think of. I was going to plant lavender (is great for almost all things such as relaxing, antiseptic), tansy (keeps flies and mosquitos away), roses ( good for the heart and the rosehip oil is great for the anti inflammatory and immune system) , rosemary (high in vitamins and minerals), marjoram (vitamins A & K), lemongrass (insect repellent) and basil (anti inflammatory, Vitamins A & K) just to name a few . Pretty much any herb you have in your kitchen.  Also be sure to have fresh water up both sides of the cow yard for incoming and outgoing cows and plenty of shade and shelter and plenty of air circulation.

I try to keep these posts short to enable you to read them quickly and apologise if it seems as if I jump off quickly. There is so much to cover on each topic and I don’t want to go too deep and lose your interest. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. And I truly appreciate the time you have taken to read my post.

Have a happy day. 


Happy pastures

Wow what a day. My youngest is 3 today and we have had constant visitors. I have found a quick gap to write this blog before tea time.

Continuing on from yesterday, I once read a book about a top horse breeder in the UK that said a pasture is only good if it has 80 species in it. I don’t know about 80 but I definitely believe that there needs to be at least 20. Our Agronomists always wanted to spray spray spray so that there only ended up having the one rye grass species that we originally sowed. And maybe some clover. Often we would see our cows down on their knees reaching under the fence to graze the areas that weren’t sprayed and were abundant in grass species and “weeds”. The cows would also reach over or under the fence on their way to the dairy eating along channel banks that were a bit wild and woolly for the same reason. 

We considered ourselves excellent grass growers because we always had more grass than the others in the district. Our closest neighbour had unruly pastures and not much of them. He spent a pittance on his pastures, got minimal milk from his small framed, cross bred cows and for me the question was, not look how terrible his cows and farm are but if he puts in little and gets more than he puts in than he is doing something right in my world. After all isn’t that what we all want, more in comings than out goings?

The man who used to spray our pastures one day told me to do an experiment and not spray every paddock out as there is plenty of seed in the ground. Well, that worked a treat. No one could tell the difference after the first graze. Our nutritionist was flabbergasted at the amount of “weeds” in the pasture and wanted us to spray the pastures. I dug my heals in and took a risk and the paddock ended up superb. Lots of healthy grass, bugs and happy cows. My mum was too scared to allow me to do this to larger areas so I was always limited as to how far I could push my experiment regardless of the initial results. When you look at a clover plant or rye plant there are hundreds of seeds on each plant and if you allow a section or paddock to go to seed each year then imagine the amount of seed deposited for next season. Also the amount of organic matter that creates.

Another experiment I started but was over ruled on was to let the paddock go to seed, then spread seed with a fertiliser spreader then mulch the long grass over the top. The idea was to create organic matter on top of a seed bed. Also in the paddock beside it I was going to only mulch. And the other paddocks beside them were going to be worked up and seeded as was usual practice on that farm. I wanted to see the performance, side by side. This was on a different farm where there was an unknown history and heavy clay soils. I never got to see the results as the father came in and ploughed the paddocks up and sowed into the worked up ground.  

If you are wondering what is my fascination with diversity, I believe that different plants bring different minerals and vitamins, therefore creating a healthier cow and soils. Which transfers to a healthier product at the end re: milk and meat.

Ok I had better sign off for tonight and make something healthy for us to eat.

Again thanks for reading.         

Healthy Pastures and crops

Today it is raining where I live and I am pleased to not have to go outside and work, however my girls are feeling a bit house bound and so far today I have knitted a tiny scarf, made pancakes (Peppa Pig style) and now I have snuck off to write this while they watch some garbage on my phone.

Leading on from my last post where I touched on companies making huge profit out of farmers. I want to talk about pastures, my observations, ideas and experiments (some successful, some not).  Where we farmed we laser levelled and flood irrigated. We farmed on the same farm for 36 years and I remember when we first moved to that farm we had Paspalum pastures which are pretty thirsty but very hardy and don’t take much to keep it growing. We didn’t oversow our pastures, only our summer pastures of subterranean clover and some years we just tickled (scarified) it up, maybe spread a bit of super here and there, add water and Bob’s your Uncle.

In the last 10 years of farming we oversowed everything, worked up all ground, put massive amounts of fertiliser on, massive amounts of water, heaps of sprays to kill out “weeds” and  I noticed the sowing rates for all crops steadily increase. Some crops started at around 20kg/hectare and by the time I finished they were 80kg/hectare. That was for winter crops. My thoughts on that are, if a plant is sown so thick it doesn’t have space to express itself fully. Wheat used to have 5 heads on it which thru genetic engineering and high sowing rates it now only has one head. What a great way to sell more seed. Imagine if all plants expressed themselves fully and in wheats case, had 5 heads how much less seed you would need to buy! Not to mention the fear the companies put in to the farmer of weeds overtaking the planet, therefore spray the hell out of everything. On a side note, I have a suspicion that gluten intolerance is actually a reaction to the Round up Ready wheat. Poor old wheat gets a bad wrap. Possibly if gluten intolerant people ate Organic Wheat they would have no reaction.

Also the winter crops grow much shorter in height now, which in one way is good in case of wild winds bending the crop over but that happens in a good heavy crop anyway. Again if the old varieties were still used they would make a lot more fodder because of the extra stalk. This leads me onto my next point which is biodiversity.

Small weeds are so beneficial in all crops. If the crops were still tall, the small plants would not contaminate the harvest when the crop is being harvested for seed, as the head of the crop would be much higher than the weeds. Therefore you wouldn’t need to use sprays to kill bugs or weeds as the biodiversity creates a healthy environment for the crop. Also the fertiliser would be minimal and non existent over time with the nurturing of biodiversity. Less fertiliser because the mining weeds are allowed to grow and pull up the minerals from way down deep. Organic matter is also allowed to form on the surface because of little or no till and no chemicals or synthetic fertilisers to kill of the bugs.  Nature balances herself out. If you look at a roadside or where the crop meets the roadside, that is where the most abundant, lively and healthy part of the crop is because of the plants and animals allowed to grow there.

If we use more natural techniques and plant varieties, that means less hours in the tractor, less machinery needed, less diesel required, less staff or a more available money to employ staff, no chemical transfer into the cows body and the farmers body, happier soils, happy cows, happy farmers.

This is a huge topic, much larger than I thought before I started to type. I haven’t even touched on pastures and maize yet. Not to mention my children sound like they are hurting each other a lot and need my attention, now! 

What I propose is for farmers to do small experiments with old varieties. If anyone is interested in experimenting, I would love to help source the seeds.

Tomorrow I will cover pastures and why they create healthy cows.  

Have a beautiful happy day, and thanks for taking the time to read.        


Well here we go!

Hello all,

I want to introduce myself, my name is Kellie Malcolm. I am currently a mother of 2 young girls who are keeping me busy at home. I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Northern Victoria, Australia. Our farm has a 75 year history of showing pedigree Holstein cows. I worked on the farm all of my life as well as working as a dairy stock agent in Australia and Canada. I travelled the world from the age of 21 to 25 working on dairy farms in England, Scotland, Italy, Belguim, Switzerland, Canada and America.

For the last 15 years of my dairy farming life I constantly questioned what we were doing and was always trying to think of more harmonious ways of doing things.

I was putting so much time, money and effort into trying to keep animals healthy and for me that was a constant. Among the illnesses I dealt with I took the hoof care on myself as I couldn’t stand to see them hobbling off down the lane. This took it’s toll on my body, probably the most of all the work. I found myself working massive hours and not feeling like I was combatting the problems. I was also thinking back to how we did it when I was young and never remembered putting so much time into illness of stock and land. Back when we were smaller and less stressed. 

So my intention for this blog is not to be coming from a what’s right and what’s wrong. I am coming from a love of people and animals and I see the constant struggle of farmers trying their best to keep their animals happy and healthy often to their own detriment. I am hoping to offer new ideas and maybe plants some seeds for new ways of doing things. Some of the ways are the old ways too that we have been pushed away from by the big corporations wanting to make more money from the seed, chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs and so on. They have been very successful if you ask me. I hope you enjoy reading this and I thank you for taking time out of your very busy day to read my blog.

Much love to you all and your beautiful cows.