Caring for Animals

Treating animals with respect and compassion is part of every dairy farmer’s heritage. Farmers recognize that good animal welfare practices lead to the production of high quality, safe and wholesome milk, and they’re constantly seeking ways to improve the comfort of their animals. It is Because, without healthy cows, a dairy farmer couldn’t be progressive.
Dairy farmers seek advice from experts in nutrition on proper feeding for their cows. Dairy nutritionists recommend scientifically formulated and balanced diets that consist of hay, grains, protein sources and other vitamins and minerals. Farmers also recycle different ingredients such as citrus pulp, brewers’ mash and whole cottonseed that would otherwise end up in landfills. An important part of a cow’s diet is water. Cows get thirsty and can drink anywhere from 25 to 50 gallons of water a day. That’s why, farmers always make sure their cows have access to clean water.
Exercise is key to the well-being of cows. Many farmers have freestall barns, meaning the cows are “free” to move about to eat, drink or rest whenever and wherever they like. These barns also provide shade and protection from the elements. Inside these barns, farmers provide comfortable bedding for the cows in the form of sand, wood chips, recycled shredded rubber or mattresses. In regions of the country where it gets hot, farmers use a system of spray misters and large fans to keep the cows cool.
During milking dairy farmers and their employees are constantly checking and monitoring their animals. Nutritious diets, comfortable living conditions and solid medical care are all part of taking good care of their animals. This includes regular veterinarian check-ups across the entire farm, either monthly, bi-monthly or, on some farms, weekly, to keep an eye on the wellness of the herd. Vaccinations and prompt treatment of illnesses are among the many practices used by dairy farmers to ensure healthy herds.

Cows are no different than people in that they sometimes become ill and require medical care. Farmers work with large-animal veterinarians who can diagnose and treat an illness with the proper medication. Any cows who receive medicine to aid in a speedy recovery are removed from the healthy herd and won’t rejoin their herd mates until their milk tests free of antibiotics. Milk that tests positive for antibiotics is not permitted in the food supply and is immediately discarded.

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