Monday, May 16, 2011

Photos I was Afraid to Share

Our cows, resting on the bedded pack in our dairy barn.

An example of a photo I was afraid to share....
cows walking in "poop" (manure).
 As part of my goal with my blog, I believe that there is nothing to hide about what we do on our farms everyday!  Some have accused me of "sugar coating" the truth about dairy farming, but rest assured, everything that I post is the honest truth.  That being said, I had a startling realization the other day.

I was talking with our hoof trimmer Brian (the lovely man who comes to give our cows pedicures twice a year) about the health of our cows' feet and hooves as compared to other types of dairy farms.  He shared with me a very interesting point....but I'll start at the beginning first.  Our cows are housed in a pack barn (see above picture) where they are allowed to roam freely each day around this pen.  We bed it every few days with fresh wood saw dust.  The bedding helps to keep our cows dry as well as comfortable.  As you can see, they rest very comfortably.  Much like a traditional modern free stall barn, we have a feed alley where the cows can also freely walk to and eat.  In this feed alley, they walk in "poop" (manure).  In fact, on certain days, with certain cows, they actually accidentally sleep on "poop".  The "poop" is removed from the floor twice daily, but during parts of the day there is "poop" on the floor.  Pictures that I have taken in our barn of cows eating on the alley have been carefully edited, cropped or avoided all together because I wasn't sure how I could explain to a consumer the fact that our cows walk in "poop".  The funny thing is that I give tours to preschool kids and parents, where they see first hand the cows walking in "poop", and I was able to explain to them why this was ok, but I couldn't do it on my blog. 

So...back to the hoof trimmer.  Brian shared an interesting fact about cows that walk in "poop"...their hooves are actually in the best condition of all the feet he trims!  No way!  Walking in "poop" is actually good for cows...much like cows on pasture which will walk in mud, or create cow paths that may get moist!  The moisture from the mud or in the case of our farm, "poop" acts a a moisturizer for cow feet, thereby helping the cow maintain good hoof growth (hooves grow like human finger nails).  Brian also shared that cows that have feet that are always kept dry and clean, actually have a painful problem: their feet get hard, dry and brittle.  In some cases the hoof material actually stops growing!  So...I no longer need to feel ashamed to share a picture of our cows standing on a "poop" covered floor...because the truth is that our farm facility is natural to the cow and provides for her excellent hoof health!  So rest assured...I am willing to share everything!


  1. Natural is better! I think when it gets an unaturally heavy buildup is when it's bad for them, don't you? You know, like when there is a farm someone doesn't care about, or the feed lots out west where the cattle stand in the manure knee deep. That's different! :) That's wonderful friends. So beautiful to see that natural is healthy... even for cows! May Jesus bless!

  2. Carra: I do agree when build up gets knee deep that is probably not good for the cows. Occationally in the spring here in MN we do get knee deep mud in our heifer & dry cow pens, but its only in a couple spots, for w few short weeks, and most cows walk around them.

  3. :) Sometimes, like in MN, mud seems to be so unavoidable. I saw the mud in some of your pictures... the weather up that way... we are in South Carolina, so we don't have quite such hard winters. But the rain in the spring can be quite annoying at times. But I am thankful for all the Lord Jesus gives to us. I like your farm. You do so well at giving proper care to your cattle. It warms my heart.

  4. That's great! Seeing your care in showing those pictures has shown me better how you care for your cows. Thanks! And may Jesus bless you as you care for His creation.

  5. April: You never know how a non-ag person will take pictures like above. Assumptions could be made about the care we provide, that may be completely false. Thanks for reading!


I write this blog to share my passion for my cows and farming, please be respectful of that. I reserve the right to delete those comments which portray hate, call names, and are out right disrespectful. If you have an honest question, I will respond, to explain what we do on our farm, why we do it and how we do it. Please read with an open mind. My time to blog is short, as most of our days are spent caring for our beloved cows. Thank you!