A Visit to the Dairy Farm
Posted August 1, 2016 by Prairie Wife - 4 comments
We all know that milk comes from cows, and being born in the dairy state means that I have a certain affinity for the milk cow.
When the Western Dairy Association (WDA) offered to let Mary Poppins, the Cowkids and I tour a local dairy we jumped at the chance. The Cowkids are big animal lovers and I was interested in learning more about what it truly meant to be a dairy farmer. Within moments of talking with Kristie Docheff of Longomont, CO’s Blue Sky Dairy I realized that owning a Dairy farm isn’t just a job, it’s a passion, a way of life, and a family legacy.
With over 800 cows to take care of it would be easy for the Doucheff family to look at cows as dollar signs. But, I can assure you that’s not how it works. These animals are carefully monitored as they are fed, milked, and checked weekly by a vet. They are rotated to various areas based on their health (pregnant, high or low milk, sick, just given birth, or resting) and they even get a little shower each time they are milked!
As we first approached the pens with the cows I was struck first by how incredibly sweet they were. They followed us with their eyes and after only a few moments their curiosity got the best of them and they were soon licking and nuzzling the Cowkids.
The eyelashes on the Jersey Cows were miles long, and I just loved the tufts on hair on top of their heads. We couldn’t stop giggling at this Jersey cow who kept on sticking out her 15lb tongue and wiggling it around.
When we visited the milking barn I was impressed at how clean everything is! They wipe the cows’ udders down with iodine before and after each milking (they milk three times a day). And clean the hoses after each group of cows goes through.
These cows produce up to 300lb of milk a day. A gallon of milk is around 8lb so that means that some of these cows are producing around 30 gallons of milk a day…that’s a lot of milk!
As we walked through the dairy farm and listened to Kristie discuss their daily chores I was struck by how much it takes to go from a sweet calf to a milk producing cow.
These Dairy Farmers go through and feed their cows 12 times a day…and I thought the Cowkids ate a lot! They also make custom mixtures depending on the cows’ nutritional needs. A cow that has just given birth eats a different mix than a cow that is taking a break from milking. Another fun fact, most of the food that the cows eat is recycled or byproducts from things we use and eat. For example, they eat the cotton seeds that come from the cotton picked to make our clothes.
As the Cowkids spent their final moments patting the calves and letting them suck on their fingers I chatted with Krisite. It was obvious to me she loved educating us and sharing her way of life with the Cowkids. I thanked her several times for not only taking time our of her very busy day to give us a tour but, for her commitment to a way of life that is not always given the respect it deserves!
A big thanks to the WDA for this opportunity. Readers, as you sip your coffee with cream or low fat milk, make sure you take a minute to think of the dairy farmer that was up before the sun to ensure that you had just what you needed to start your day off right!
Categories: This and That
Tags: , blue sky dairy, cows, dairy farmers, diary, milk, milking cows, WDA, western dairy association
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4 thoughts on "A Visit to the Dairy Farm"
It is amazing how quickly things change. We switched from hand milking to machines when I was about CowboyW’s age. Look at it now. I was surprised to see so many Jerseys. Holsteins seem to dominate the market in Wisconsin.
The yields are amazing too. Better breeding and better nutrition, of course, made the improvement. I couldn’t help but think of a woman I met in Uganda last year – she was bragging about her cow providing about five gallons a day!
I think it amazing and I had to double check my STATS just to make sure I was right!
I love cow’s faces. I don’t eat meat but I do still love milk and cheese, I’m not a fill-fledged vegetarian. It looks like you had a fun day. I would have been right with you there petting and cuddling the cows.
Are you with me in agreeing that perhaps we need a cow on the prairie someday 😉