Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Too mad to go to bed!

ARG!  Looks like Mercy for Animals (MFA) found yet another example of abuse in the livestock industry.  I watched their video, which they will be releasing to the press tomorrow, but it did not sit well with me at all (I'm so MAD at these people, I couldn't go to bed without posting)!  It was really hard for me to watch such pain and disrespect for these calves.  Heart wrenching doesn't even begin to describe how I felt.  I wanted to reach through the screen at take a swing at the abusers!  Everyday, dairy farmers like myself work diligently, putting the care of our calves and cows first, most times before our own care.  It is a black eye on our industry when another situation like this is found.  Abuse of this nature is not commonplace in our industry, even though some activists would lead you to believe this. Orange Patch Dairy and other dairies across the nation strive everyday to improve the care we give our animals.  We do not treat our animals like waste and we do not withhold medication/medical care.  Our cows get our VERY BEST, EVERYDAY!

Thank you MFA for finding and reporting this abuse.  It is an example of completely INAPPROPRIATE animal care.

Please see the following links for other farms/dairies and videos...showing how much we truly put our cows needs first! 

Don't go Vegan to protest abuse....prosecute the abusers!

RayLin Dairy, California
Haley Farms, Ohio
Dairy Farming Today YouTube Channel
Dairy Farming Today WebSite

Monday, April 18, 2011

Baby Boom!

I have always stated that our major calving rush has been in the winter months, but after this past week I think I misspoke!  We have had 1-2 calves everyday for the past 6 days!  The first one visited us on Wednesday evening.  I was gone in the Twin Cities, speaking at an agricultural meeting, when I got a call from Jon on the trip home.  "You better hurry up and get home, Gloria had her calf, and it's snowing here!"  All I could think was, "SNOW! In April!!"  It was sunny and 50 where I was...yuck!  I drove home as swiftly as I could.  It was still snowing!  And there was my little heifer calf, running around in the heavy and wet snow.  She was very healthy, but very wet and cold.  So I scooped her up (named Glorified) and moved her inside the barn, into her dry, heated, and bedded stall.  After that, we moved her mother to the milking barn, so she could be indoors with access to all the feed and water she would want.  That was our first baby...

Thursday our second heifer calf was born.  Her mother was a 1st time mother (fresh heifer), calving almost 10 days before her due date, who had a little trouble calving, but we were there to assist her delivery of a healthy calf.  Friday was the 3rd heifer calf from another surprise calving...#75.  #75 has always had trouble with milk fever, as long as we have owned her (6 years).  With each delivery she has had problems maintaining her blood calcium balance at calving, which causes milk fever.  Symptoms include: muscle weakness, cold ears, poor pupil dilation, and inability to stand.  We needed to give #75 IV fluids that included calcium.  With a little time she was up and running.  Saturday was another big surprise...TWIN heifer calves!  My lovely cow Olivia calved overnight, successfully delivering twin heifers: Ochyeden and Ogilive.  They're so cute!  I am still amazed at how well Olivia cared for twins, it was no easy task for her!  And finally, this morning we came to the farm early, to get ready for church, when I discovered Delano trying to calve.  We worked as swiftly as we could, but we were unable to deliver a live calf.  Delano had been laboring for a few hours overnight and was unable to deliver her calf on her own.  We assisted her when we got to the farm, but pulled a dead bull calf.  I was so frustrated!  Times like this make living in town very complicated.  The 10 minute drive to the farm might have well been 10 hours, because we were too late.  So, we promise to work harder next time, and are thankful for at least a healthy Delano.  So as you can see, we've been busy with our latest Baby Boom!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Raise My Hand for Chocolate Milk! How about you?

I recently read that Chocolate Milk is under attack yet again by the media and health officials for being unhealthy for kids.  The very thought of banning Chocolate Milk from schools makes me cringe!  I remember my grade school years, and how often I would drink Chocolate Milk rather than "white milk".  It was a real treat to have Chocolate Milk, plus I was getting 9 essential nutrients (Calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin ) in that awesome package, important for my then, growing body.  Studies have shown that by removing Chocolate/flavored milk from the lunch room, there was a dramatic reduction in overall milk consumption among kids, thereby lowering their daily intake of calcium, protein & potassium.  That's putting these kids at risk.  That carton (it's bottles now) of Chocolate Milk is the perfect balance between good nutrition and good fun! 

This nutrient package is difficult to find in other foods that are as affordable or appealing to kids.  Studies have shown that children who drink flavored milk…drink more milk overall, have better quality diets, do not have higher intakes of added sugar or fat, and are just as likely to be at a healthy weight compared to kids who do not consume flavored milk.  In fact, flavored milk contributes only 3 percent of the added sugars in children’s diets. Only a fraction!  Studies have also shown that athletes who refuel with Chocolate Milk, replenish stressed muscles faster than if they consumed a sports drink.

So, even after knowing this, as a parent, you still want to reduce the amount of sugar your child consumes.  No problem!  The dairy industry is working on that!  Recognizing that many schools want to reduce the sugar content in all their menu offerings, the dairy industry has taken action to reduce fat, calories and added sugars in flavored milk. Today, the majority of milk in schools is low-fat or fat-free, and the majority of flavored milk is at or below 150 calories.  The newer formulas for Chocolate Milk have 2 to 3 teaspoons of added sugar compared to 3 to 4 teaspoons of added sugar in traditional formulas.

Even today I enjoy Chocolate Milk.  I usually drink 1% "white" milk and fat-free Chocolate the same time!  After a long morning of chores at the farm, I can be found at noon relaxing in our office with a turkey sandwich and a tall glass of Chocolate Milk.  I often find the chocolate flavoring of my milk to be a little over-powering, so I will mix my "white" and Chocolate Milk together in a 50/50 ratio.  Same delicious Chocolate Milk....with a little less there's a tip for those mom's out there.  If you can't find a Chocolate Milk that suits your lower sugar requirements, just add a little "white" to lower the grams while still encouraging your children to have healthy habits for a long life! 

For more information about Chocolate Milk, check out: Raise Your Hand for Milk or on YouTube at

Thursday, April 7, 2011

With high feed costs, we are Planning Ahead....

Well April is here! The weather has really improved in the past few days!  We are enjoying more moderate temperatures and sunshine!  Needless to say, we are working overtime on projects and getting a lot accomplished, but today was for planning ahead.  Often times on a dairy farm, we need to plan ahead, schedule tasks, and make sure that we are using our time and resources to their fullest potential for our cows.  Our dairy consultant/nutritionist Jeremy stopped in for his monthly visit and a planning meeting.

When Jeremy visits, he first walks through the groups of cows and makes observations.  He evaluates how fat or thin our cows are, he watches them eat, he watches them pass manure (and checks that too), he checks our feed, and collects data about the milk we produce.  All of this information helps him to make decisions about what to feed our cows and how much.  Good nutrition is so important to our cows, so we depend on Jeremy's expertise everyday.  Today's report was good: cows are chewing their cuds well, they are passing excellent manure and they are all in great condition (amount of weight they carry-we don't want them too fat or thin).  After talking about the good news we got down to business.

With the recent increases in the corn price, our feed costs are out of control.  The milk price is slowly keeping pace, but it will be hard to make a living milking cows in the next couple months.  Knowing this we needed to develop a plan for our 2011 growing season.  We will be planting our crops in the coming weeks, much of which will be harvested as alfalfa haylage or corn silage for our cows (forages).  After going through all of our options to keep our costs low, while making sure we keep our cows healthy and productive, we decided that we will need to chop more corn silage for 2011.  It is currently more economical to feed corn silage rather than dry corn to our cows, plus cows prefer forages anyways!  We will still feed dry corn (cows need some dry corn too!), but at least we can cut the amount.  We will need to continue to focus on making the best possible feed for our cows this summer, and pray for good growing conditions.  We have a plan, to keep costs low while producing a great product (milk) from healthy cows.  So as we start planting in the coming weeks, we will stick with the plan...stay tuned!